Thursday, December 13, 2012

Broken transportation system

Listening to the morning news and hearing about the chaos on our roads caused by reckless, aggressive drivers, it's easy to come to the conclusion that our transportation system is broken. A single careless motorist can literally cause any of our major roadways to come to a crashing halt. Nearly very day portions of I-95, I-66, I-395, the Dulles Toll Road, and our major state highways are affected by crashes. Building more and bigger major roads does little to solve that problem.

To see current incidents on NoVa roads visit VDOT's 511 site. In the image on the right I've just selected "High Priority Incidents" and "Other Incidents" today at 5:50 p.m., the height of rush hour. Most of these incidents are "delays due to congestion," but others are likely due to crashes.

Having transportation options is one solution to relying on roads where human error regularly causes delay. Cyclists know that their travel time to destinations is very consistent. A crash on the road or trail rarely affects cyclists. While delays on Metro are not unheard of, they are relatively minor compared to the problems commuters encounter daily on our roads.

Having a connected road system would help too. Most of our neighborhoods contain cul-de-sacs that prevent connections with adjoining neighborhoods. Travelers are often forced onto arterial roads that easily become bottlenecks when overcrowded or blocked by crashes. Driverless cars can be another partial solution, but that technology will take many years to implement.

Developing a connected, safe, bicycle network would help greatly, especially in our more dense areas such as Tysons, Merrifield, Springfield, and inside the Beltway.

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