Growing up in the Midwest, I couldn’t have even imagined not having a car. Most kids get a car when they turn 16, even if it’s a cheap old junker. Mine, not quite a junker, was a baby blue 1989 Honda Civic stick shift, and didn’t have power steering! Most of you probably don’t even know what that means. Try taking your driver’s test and parallel parking while driving a stick shift and turning a wheel that is very hard to turn. That was me at 16.
Having a car was really the only way to get around. Unless you lived very close to your work, there weren’t a ton of walkable neighborhoods near restaurants and offices and I certainly didn’t live in one growing up. In most most cities and towns (except places like NYC, SF, DC) most people drive everywhere. Every day. Where I’m from, people didn’t even consider other options. There was no Metro/Subway, biking on the highway is just dangerous, unless you want to walk for 2+ hours walking isn’t an option, and the bus system was near nonexistent.
I always dreamed of working at a magazine and living the walkable life in New York City. I ended up with my own blog and living in DC, which is pretty close to my dream, even better in my opinion.
One thing DC has to offer is a TON of transportation options. And I have taken advantage of all of them over the seven years I’ve lived here.
When my husband and I lived in Kansas City there was a time where we owned three cars. For the two of us. When we moved to
DC we only brought one car with us and sold the others. My baby blue Honda was long gone by that point, but a small car was definitely favorable in DC for gas and parking reasons. We’ve even gone a few months between cars without having one and relied solely on walking, biking, public transportation, cabs, and Uber.
It’s no secret that the traffic in DC and other large cities around the US and the world is insane. DC rivals LA for the worst traffic in the US. One of DC’s main problems is that geographically, DC proper is small. A lot of people from the surrounding metro area (over 6 million people in the greater DC area in Virginia and Maryland to be exact) are all commuting into one tiny space, whereas in other cities the traffic is more spread out. Making getting around the actual downtown DC metro area an absolute nightmare during rush hour, or honestly at any point in the day there is almost always traffic. A presidential motorcade doesn’t help either.
Luckily for all of us Washingtonians, there are lots of transportation options because driving is typically not the most relaxing activity around here, and I avoid it (especially during rush hour) when at all possible! I’m convinced driving frequently is giving me wrinkles.
But we can all avoid driving on one special day — this Friday, September 22! Have you ever heard of Car Free Day? It’s an international event celebrated every September where people are encouraged to not use their cars! To get around on Car Free Day people can pledge to use different options like ride a train, subway, or the bus, dust of that trusty bike, or just simply walk. If none of those are realistic options and a car must be used, carpooling is an option that counts. Anyone who has the ability to work from home — that also counts.
Car Free Day is open to all people in the Washington metropolitan area. Learn more and take the pledge here!
Let’s chat about a few of these transportation options in Washington DC:
WORK FROM HOME
Nowadays a lot of companies are a lot more comfortable with the idea of employees working from home. DC is no exception. With the amount of traffic and the snowy winters we have here, telework (as it’s commonly referred to) for government agencies is widely accepted under weather-related or other circumstances.
I have worked from home full-time or part-time since moving to DC. As much as I like the ability to get out of the house to work, having the option of working from home is so convenient (maybe too convenient as I never stop working!).
If you’ve never approached your boss about working from home, Car Free Day might be a great time to break the ice and test it out! Maybe you initiate an office-wide test of working from home!
WALK TO WORK
Walking to work is the dream, isn’t it!? Walking is said to have so many health benefits that having a little forced walk to and from work is probably beneficial to your health in many ways. If you’ve never tried it, but admittedly live within walking distance of your office, Car Free Day is a great time to try it! Maybe you’ll find you really enjoy it!
I used to walk home from my office in Georgetown frequently. It would take 45 minutes, but I would purposely pick nice days, put my earbuds in, listen to a podcast or a book, and just enjoy getting the fresh air and moving my body. Sometimes I’d even call a friend and catch up, and before I knew it I was home.
Now walking to my office (besides the 10 steps from my bed to my home office) just isn’t possible — it would take me almost between 2-3 hours (I checked). But walking it is definitely my preferred method of transportation in almost all situations whenever possible!
I know people in DC who will walk up to 45 minutes each way to and from work because they simply enjoy it and like the exercise. And they can save money by not having to pay for any sort of transportation! Of course when the weather is terrible they may opt not to walk, but can you imagine what adding 30-90 minutes of walking to your day 5 days a week would do for your health?!? Let Car Free Day be the day you give walking to work a chance!
TAKE THE METRO
Before living in DC, I never lived anywhere with a subway system. I was so excited to have the option of the Metro as we call it here in DC. (In NYC it’s the “subway”, London it’s the “tube” or the “underground”, Chicago it’s the “L” which stands for elevated rail.)
While a lot of Washingtonians wish the Metro was double the size with more lines going out to more suburbs and stopping in more places in the city like NYC, what we do have is actually a really nice Metro system. I mean, it has its problems of course, but compared to others, it is so clean!
I enjoy taking the Metro. Instead of getting shoulder cramps, deepening my crow’s feet, and yelling to myself with road rage while driving on congested highways and streets, I can just read a book, or put my earbuds in and listen to something. It’s a much more relaxing experience. And during rush hour — usually much faster.
If you want to take part in Car Free Day — there are so many more options for Car Free Day beyond walking, the Metro, and working from home. I’m working with them to help spread the word and get people signed up so if you are interested in taking the pledge CLICK HERE! And I’d love it if you would tell your friends or share this post on your Facebook or Twitter!
+ Ride a bike! If you don’t have your own (I just got a new one in from Brooklyn Bike Co. yesterday!) you can always use Capital Bikeshare. To be totally honest — biking might be the best way to get around the city during rush hour. My husband biked to his office for a long time, and I would ride to mine in Georgetown before we got Hemingway. DC has so many bike lanes, you can get through traffic so quickly!
+ Take the bus! The bus system in DC is very extensive. It’s easy to figure out too — you can just plug your destination into Google Maps and it will tell you which lines you can take to your destination! I’ve probably taken the bus more times than the Metro. I took it daily for years.
+ I know a few people who live pretty far outside the city and they take the train into the city (the MARC or Amtrak).
+ Lastly, if you absolutely have to use a car to get to work on Car Free Day, carpooling is an option.
So really, there’s no excuse NOT to sign up! I hope you’ll do it with me!
Pictured: Faux Fur and Shearling Jacket (Similar Jacket); Similar White Tunic; Tan Suede Pumps; St. John Newport Suede Clutch (gifted); Warby Parker Sunglasses; J.Crew Vintage Crop Jeans; J.Crew Striped Turtleneck; Similar Long Vest; Orbit Earrings; Similar Faux Fur Mules; Leather Mousepad; Lion Cocktail Ring; Bracelet Set; AllSaints Papin Leather Biker Jacket
This post was brought to you by Car Free Day Metro DC. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the companies that help make this website possible.
Photos by Emma Weiss