From the Forum – Rush Hour Lanes

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Rush Hour Lanes

“PoPville: Why does DC have rush hour lanes in the morning and evening? I live on one of these streets in Columbia Heights and it seems to cause more traffic issues than anything else. (Columbia, Harvard, Irving and Park streets between Georgia Ave and 16th Street NW) My street doesn’t even have lane markers so most people don’t know they are supposed to use two lanes anyway, yet residents lose 50% of their parking twice a day with hefty tickets if we forget. Then add in street sweeping regulations… Why do we have these lanes, when were they put in and how do we get rid of them?”

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27 Comment

  • justinbc

    If you’re a resident you really don’t have much of an “if we forget” excuse. It’s not like that’s the only place possible you could park.

  • Scrillin

    Either someone’s trolling you, or we need like an assimilation course for newcomers. This is ridiculous.

  • Rush hour lanes exist because you are not the center of the universe. For those who commute into the Downtown area, it creates a free-flowing major artery into the city in the morning, and out of the city in the afternoons, instead of being grid-locked for the entire day.

    • “Rush hour lanes exist because you are not the center of the universe.”
      Hmmmm, if there were only a place about the size of a car and one could pay to permanently leave his car in that spot. Has anyone heard of something like this? I think it would be very popular!

  • As much as you may dislike this fact, not all people who work in this city live here. Rush hour lanes are designed to decrease traffic congestion. Sorry your parking is decreased. I hear Bethesda is a lovely place to live, and moving there you could enjoy using the commuter lanes too!

  • I don’t see what’s trolly about the question. Those rush hour lanes suck. They encourage commuter traffic to drive way too fast through neighborhoods. All of those roads are classified as Minor Arterials, which the DOT says:
    “Such facilities may carry local bus routes and provide intra-community continuity, but ideally should not penetrate identifiable neighborhoods.”
    “The spacing of minor arterial streets may vary from 1/8 – 1/2 mile in the central business district to 2 – 3 miles in the suburban fringes, but should normally be not more than 1 mile in fully developed areas.”
    The reason there are so many of them in one small neighborhood is that DDOT historically cares more about moving commuters than they do about neighborhoods. I think we residents would be better served by making the roads two way traffic full time. We’d lose some night-time parking, but the area would be much safer.

    • It seems trolly to car commuters because you see they, not OP, are the center of the universe.

    • I agree with you that “DDOT historically cares more about moving commuters than they do about neighborhoods,” and I’m ambivalent about the merits of the rush hour lanes in Columbia Heights and Park View.
      But the OP’s question is way less cogent than your comment — it sounds as though he/she is questioning the philosophy behind rush hour lanes in general.
      FWIW… my experience when I used to reverse-commute on Harvard and Columbia every day was that so often there would be a single car parked in the rush-hour lane — effectively preventing its use as a travel lane — that it seemed to defeat the purpose of having rush-hour lanes in the first place.

    • justinbc

      “DDOT historically cares more about moving commuters than they do about neighborhoods”
      Given that Transportation is literally in the name of the agency, shouldn’t they?

      • It’s a District agency that seems to put the interests of non-District commuters ahead of those of District residents.

        • It’s the District Department of Transportation, not the District Department of Car Storage.

        • The OP is specifically mentions Harvard, Columbia, Irving, and Park Rds, all of which run east/west in an area that has east/west traffic even in the middle of the day. I do not think this is for commuters like Connecticut, Wisconsin, Georgia, and 16th are, commuters will have moved laterally to an above mentioned artery before they hit CH because CH is terrible for going east/west.
          They should add proper markers though, its pretty annoying when someone is oblivious to how it is supposed to work and straddles two lanes.

  • Clearly I’m in the minority, but don’t forget some of your neighbors in that area commute to work outside the city. Imagine that! I like being able to get home in a decent amount of time, instead of sitting in insane traffic on a one lane road because both sides of the road must be lined with parked cars. Sorry you bought/rented a townhome/condo/apt that decided parking wasn’t important enough to give you a private spot?

  • What I find strange is that you can even park on 16th Street south of Arkansas Ave NW. If they made it no parking at any point the city wouldn’t have to tow cars that weren’t properly moved by rush hour. I don’t know how how many current parking spaces would be impacted, but if it forced people to park at the giant, mostly unused DC USA garage instead of on 16th Street that wouldn’t be the end of the world.

  • Funny, I was just thinking about what would be the most effective to lobby DDOT to expand the rush hour lane times on 16th St in the evenings. It’s currently 4:30-6:30 and I would love to see it go until 7:30 or 8, as the traffic clogs up significantly on 16th around 6:45. Rush hour lanes do a heck of a lot to help traffic flow. Rent / buy a parking spot if you don’t like them.

    • “Rent/buy a parking spot if you don’t like them.”
      or you could take public transit or, if it’s not convenient enough for you, move somewhere so that it is. not that i would normally suggest this, but since you’re in the habit of telling people what to do so your life is easier, i thought you wouldn’t mind.

    • I recently did lobby DDOT about adding an evening rush hour lane from I St to Washington Circle on 23rd St. and they responded and are looking into it. I can only hope it goes through – that intersection is a huge clusterf@#% every evening. Send them an email – that’s all I did.

  • Love when they work, hate when they don’t. I wish they would go back to towing on Constitution right at 4. It always some out of state car parked in the rush hour lane, backing up traffic as that people have to merge back into another lane for one car.

  • As a resident on Irving street. I find this persons opinions completely ridiculous. I understand that not everyone else also lives on Irving street. Ad frankly would rather have ambulances easily pass through to get to Washington hospital center as opposed to be stuck in front of my window blaring their sirens as a result of my selfish neighbors

  • What this city needs is not the removal of rush hour lanes, but rather turning most of them into 24/7 car lanes, bus lanes, bike lanes, or wider sidewalks (as the individual cases merit). There is not enough space in this city to waste so much of it on free car storage. The 16th street example that others have cited is one of the most egregious, but there are plenty other roads around town that would be improved by adding more space for travel, and less for subsidized parking.

  • CT Avenue = Maryland’s High-speed Freeway.

    • The fact that 16th Street is ever *not* four lanes is idiotic. As someone who lives in the city and rarely drives, I still occasionally like to get out of town. You will have times when there is a single car every 1/4 mile parked on the side of the road. Each one of those cars nearly eliminates the entire purpose of having a four lane road.

      Getting out of DC to the south is a piece of cake. Trying to get north is a nightmare.

  • I don’t know if the OP can be right (or wrong), because it seems to me that he or she was simply asking questions while offering up some personal observations that may be relevant to those questions. And however you feel about the transportation status quo, I think the OP is raising an important issue, one that deserves to be examined every now and then–whether the region’s current transportation policies are fostering the type of communities we want to live in. This would involve a serious conversation about parking spots, driving lanes, crosswalks, speed limits, bike lanes, etc.–and whether we currently have the right kind of mix. And yes, reconsidering these policies might involve upsetting some people’s expectations and reducing the things some people like. But that’s life, or more specifically, democracy, where government policies favor some and disfavor others, but are hopefully adopted by leaders who are sensitive to their constituents’ concerns and are implemented in a good faith attempt to actually make our community a better place to live.

    Maybe that’s a long-winded way of saying that our cities (including driving lanes and parking spots) were designed to look the way they look, and just because they were designed that way sometime in the past doesn’t mean that they should necessarily still look that way today.

  • I lived on Irving Street between 13th and 14th for years, and the statement, “My street doesn’t even have lane markers so most people don’t know they are supposed to use two lanes anyway,” is one of the silliest things I’ve ever read. OP is suggesting that people driving in the morning and afternoon rush hour confine themselves to the center lane, even though there’s an empty lane next to them, because it isn’t marked? Come on, that’s ridiculous. Troll.

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