Last week, Washington Post staffers became commuters and raced each other by car and public transportation along several typical commuting routes. Today's report compares commuting by car, bicycle, bus and subway from Capital Hill to the downtown office district.
Start: 8:24 a.m. from 7th and East Capitol Street NE, in the heart of a popular residential neighborhood.
Finsih: Washington Post building at 15th and L Streets NW.
Car: 16 minutes.
Bicycle: 22 minutes.
Subway: 29 minutes.
Bus and subway: 35 minutes.
The beautiful thing about commuting on a bicycle is, of course, that there are few encouniers of any kind. A bicycle never fails to start in cold weather it doesn't cost anything to park and there are no problems with locking brakes or sticking doors.
It was a simple and direct route that I followed: down East Capitol Street to the Capitol, cround the Capitol to the Mall, all the way down the Mall (on the bicycle and walking paths) to 15th Stree NW and then up 15th Street (and East Executive Avenue), past the White House to The Post.
I was fortunate in that there was no wind. As any cyclist knows, the prevailing wind along the Mall is from the west to east and a stiff headwind can slow you down by a good five minutes.
There is a lane reserved for bicycles on East Capitol Street so traffic there is never a problem. I hit on red light and made it to the Capitol in four or five minutes.
The Mall is the most pleasant part of my trip. On weekends, people drive in from the suburbs with bike racks on their cars to ride bicycles up and down the Mall. For me, it's all part of my daily commute.
There aren't many people on the Mall at 8:15 a.m. - a few joggers, two or three other cyclists, an occasional pedestrian. Often, it feels like I've got it all to myself.
Once you hit 14th Street NW, traffic does become a factor. It was relatively light on Thursday, but still it's prudent to be careful when changing lanes and it's best to pay attention to red lights. I hit three red lights, but since I was on a bicycle I was able to ride to the head of the line at each light.
For the record, I should add that my bicycle is a heavy Schwinn and only a three speed. That's not the fastest bicycle in the world, but on the other hand I've been parking it on the streets for five years and it's never been stolen.