If you have to drive in Washington D.C. at any time, it may serve you best to do a little research and brush up what to expect while on the road there. Driving in D.C. can be unpredictable, and you never know what you’re going to come across or where you’ll end up. Whether you’re a tourist or a resident, driving in the city can be overwhelming. To make navigating D.C. that much easier, here are a few things to be aware of while driving the streets of our nation’s capital.
D.C. is built on a grid system consisting of one-ways and congested areas. With rush hour traffic, construction, and pedestrian traffic, congestion is inevitable. For your convenience, try to avoid driving during rush hour. This ranges between 6 am and 9 am and 3 pm and 7 pm during the work week. During the peak season for tourists, try to avoid driving on the weekends and opt instead for different modes of transportation.
Again, D.C. is a popular tourist destination and an evolving residential area, so navigating the city can be difficult for anyone. Most of the time, drivers are using their GPS, cell phone, and any other electronic device for travel. The city’s confusing grid layout and drivers’ lack of attention makes defensive driving even harder. Residents are often rushing and unable to use their signals in a timely manner, so be prepared for obstacles and try to avoid rising up to road rage.
The streets of D.C. were designed by a French architect named Pierre Charles L’Enfant, and his layout was established as a way to get the most out of a congested area, specifically with roundabouts. However, many of these routes can be confusing for tourists as well as regular D.C. drivers, and there is a good chance of drivers missing turns. Also, one-way streets can make it difficult to turn, leaving most drivers several blocks out of the way.
As in most major cities, parking is hard to come by in areas like DC. Most parking is limited to popular attractions. There are parking garages, but there are also a number of parking restrictions — to the point that less confident drivers may find it easier to travel on foot or by public transportation.
Another way to get around the city easily is by biking. With bikes, you have fewer blind spots and more room to park. One thing that can likely be agreed upon is that it’s easier to navigate the city when you’re less stressed. There are businesses that allow people to rent bikes at one destination and drop them off at another. D.C. might be considered the city for the worst drivers, but it is one of the most bike friendly cities in the US.
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