Why DC Gridlock Sucks


Yes, you heard me right. You are part of the problem. This morning I reached my breaking point, and I’m here to call you out on it.


Just because some crosswalks say that “D.C. law states cars must yield to pedestrians in crosswalks” does not mean you have license to cross them any time you would like.

Everybody knows these two symbols. Why is it so hard to follow them? I watched as four people crossed illegally in front of a car 50 feet away with a green light. Had they become hood ornaments, I don’t think that would have broken my heart.

To a more advanced part of pedestrian legal policy, we move to the “countdown.”

This means, quite simply, that if you’re already in the crosswalk, this is how much time you have left. It does not mean that you have 16 seconds to run across the street. The red “stop” hand means the same as don’t walk if you’re not already crossing.

Why is this important?

Unless you’re one of those boorish and snotty “I don’t have a car” people, you’ll realize why. Place yourself at any intersection in DC where you’re trying to turn right at a green light. Most of the pedestrians have crossed and you’re about to turn — wait! a guy runs out across the street.

This is the reason why they tell you to stop and refrain from crossing, so cars can turn right.

Follow the law.


I have repeatedly blogged on my annoyances with bicyclists. Follow the law, bikers. You are bound by the same laws as cars. The. Exact. Same. Law. You even get some special laws, and a subsidized bike service for rich yuppies! How nice for you.

But, BUT, that doesn’t mean you can fly through stop signs or red lights. Or bike against traffic.

Follow the law.


This is mostly directed at Marylanders and cabbies. D.C. people get off with a stern warning and Virginians a mild one.  Stop being assholes. Don’t block the box. Don’t run red lights. Don’t run stop signs. Learn how to signal, merge, turn, and how to park.

I would love to ship most of these horrible east coast drivers to Ohio for remedial driving lessons. You’re no more important than any other type of commuter, even though you are required to be insured and pay gas taxes… OK, you’re a little more important, but that doesn’t give you a pass when it comes to following the law.

Follow the law.

Bus Drivers:

Stop assaulting passengers. Don’t block the box, run lights, or speed.

Follow the law.

(Bus passengers: don’t be crazy.)


Stop hiring people with drug problems (cough: unions! cough.)

Follow the law.

Maybe, just maybe, if people start following the laws, we’d have less gridlock, frustration, and unnecessary deaths. 

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One Thought on “Why DC Gridlock Sucks

  1. Anders on June 26, 2012 at 11:48 am said:

    I have to disagree with you regarding pedestrians and the countdown. Pedestrians have a [legal, moral] responsibility to be out of the crosswalk by the time it turns solid red, but they have every right to be in the crosswalk until that time. It may well be illegal for pedestrians to *enter* the crosswalk once the signal starts blinking, though if that the case I’d argue that law is stupid*. Motorists (and cyclists) have a responsibility to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk. That includes paying attention to see if pedestrians are about to enter the crosswalk. If that doesn’t give vehicular traffic enough time to cross by the time their light turns red, then that is a problem with the traffic pattern and light timing — not something to blame pedestrians for.

    * Much like posted “No Turn on Red” signs, which are unnecessarily restrictive and redundant: If the way isn’t clear (or if visibility is limited enough so that you can’t tell) then turning right on red is already illegal and the sign does nothing. If the way is obviously clear then the sign is counterproductive because it stops the safe advancement of traffic.

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