Commuters share: These routes are made for walkin’

Columnist

The most pleasing thing about the responses to my column on long walking commutes in the Washington area was that people didn’t dismiss the notion. Some readers had specific advice for Alice Cave, the Alexandria commuter who was trying to figure out how to walk from her workplace in McPherson Square to her residence across the Potomac River in Parkfairfax. Others contributed advice that applies to all walkers.

Robert Thomson is The Washington Post’s “Dr. Gridlock.” He answers travelers’ questions, listens to their complaints and shares their pain on the roads, trains and buses in the Washington region. View Archive

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Pedestrians walking home from work should wear a neon vest and blaze-orange hat. And maybe even a red strobe light on the front and back. Pedestrians in our area are always fair game to semiconscious drivers and have to take responsibility for their own safety, because nobody else does.

Roger Elmore, Woodbridge

DG: The benefit of visibility for pedestrians is something highlighted around Halloween and then seems to go away, as though the idea was strictly for kids and special occasions. That’s not right.

Maybe people won’t go for the full outfit that Elmore recommends unless they walk in the woods during deer season, but his point is solid. People should at least consider wearing lighter-colored clothing. (Why is it that winter fashions are so dark? The short days are the worst times for walkers to be blending into the background.)

I hope the trend toward practicality in office attire will accommodate the desire of many commuters to leave their cars at home. The fashions of the future should reflect the way people commute, and perhaps be reflective.

The scenic view

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Here is an alternative for Alice Cave. Walk across the 14th Street bridge and turn north toward the humpback bridge. Go under the bridge and take the path to Lady Bird Johnson Park. At the end of the path, there is a footbridge across the Boundary Channel that leads you to the Pentagon.

After working your way through the parking lotmaze, follow the same directions provided in this column (Columbia Pike, Army-Navy Drive, etc). This route would save several miles and is a pleasant walk on the Mount Vernon Trail and Lyndon Baines Johnson Grove.

I live across from Parkfairfax. I just retired from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and was a bike commuter for more than 30 years. I now enjoy meandering around on my bike and recently visited the LBJ Grove for the first time, discovering the bridge. I used this route to visit the Sept. 11 Pentagon Memorial.

Carol Goodloe,
Arlington County

DG: In the column, I wrote about two walking routes, one using the 14th Street bridge and the other crossing Arlington Memorial Bridge. Both pop up when asking Google Maps for directions online. But my hope was that experienced travelers would add their own routes based on safety, travel time and scenery. I thought some might think that finding and using a pedestrian route across one of the bridges would be daunting, but the responses don’t suggest that at all.

I’d also like to hear from District and Maryland residents with other thoughts on walking commutes. They don’t confront the challenges — or opportunities — of crossing rivers, but they face other issues, including voyages acrosstraffic circles, areas that lack sidewalks and the need to catch drivers’ attention.

Several travelers who saw the column online contributed tips for Cave and others:

■Smartphone directions can be very helpful, for biking as well as walking directions. The commenter got caught up in the Green Line shutdown Jan. 27 but found a Capital Bikeshare station nearby and rode away from the trouble.

■When crossing the Potomac via the Arlington Memorial Bridge, pedestrians might consider continuing their commute by walking through Arlington Cemetery. That’s a pleasant way to keep away from the traffic. But note that the cemetery closes at 5 p.m. October through March and at 7 p.m. the rest of the year.

■Detailed maps of Arlington County’s trails are available on the Bike Arlington Web site, www.bike
arlington.com
.

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