While it was good to see that traffic congestion is down, the June 30 front-page article “Less Stop. More Go.” overlooked the most interesting and profound reasons for the improvement. Part of the reason drivers have easier commutes is because there are fewer of them. People are driving less, and not just because of the economy. More people live closer to work: The population in the region’s major employment center (the District) has grown by 30,000 in the last 10 years, and many of these residents choose not to drive. Metro’s share of traffic is up 8 percent since 2000; biking has jumped 80 percent from 2007 to 2010, and Capital Bikeshare ridership keeps breaking records.
The improvement in the commute could be a harbinger of a new era in transportation for our region. Responding to these changes does not entail expensive highway projects but accommodating demand for convenient housing, better public transportation and safer streets for everyone.