Washington, DC traffic patterns



  • A week ago I drove from Washington, D.C. out to Mount Vernon in Virginia.  Amazingly I made it on the first try, mostly because I've traveled that part by taxi a dozen times.

    Google map of crossing the Potomac

    (On the map, try getting from southbound on the eastern bank to southbound on the western bank.  Then try getting back.) 

    On the way home I missed my right turn back over the Potomac River.  Who knew you needed to be in the left lane to turn right?!  The roads in the area are a tangle of ribbons converging and diverging in a dozen directions.  I suppose they keep traffic moving smoothly if everybody knows exactly where they need to be.  But miss one lane change and you'll be in another state, with no chance for a U-turn and no guarantee that if you exit that you'll find another road going back the way you came.  

    Rather than risk getting even more lost, I just stayed on the road until I reached a more familiar tangle ten miles away.





  • @AlpineR said:

    Who knew you needed to be in the left lane to turn right?
    We have this on a major road in this city. And if you don't know about it and make the wrong choice it takes about 20 minutes to find a road to take you back.Needless to say it royally pissed me off when I fell for it.

    I'm sure that it all looks great in some civil engineer's plans but really.. WTF?! 



  • When coming through Portland, OR from the north on I-5 the freeway crosses a large bridge (the Marquam) and divides into four lanes in preparation to split off, with the I-5 branch continuing off to the south (i.e., to the left, as you cross the bridge) and the 405 branch going west, then turning north (to the right, as you look at it). However the road actually splits and then braids under itself so that you need to be in the left lanes to get on 405 (i.e., "to the right") and vice versa.

    This seems to be a common practice at large interchanges in the U.S. (not that this one is particularly large). There's probably some obscure engineering reason why it's better to do it that way. 



  • Pffft..  the Greater Boston area laughs at your pathetic "bad traffic".



  • @AlpineR said:

    Who knew you needed to be in the left lane to turn right?! 
     

    You're not from New Jersey then are you? 



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    Pffft..  the Greater Boston area laughs at your pathetic "bad traffic".

     Agreed.  if your not a local driving in boston is next to impossible.   I learned to try by navigating the big dig.



  • Meant to say I learned to drive by navigating the big dig.  edit permission expired before I saw the typo.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    Pffft..  the Greater Boston area laughs at your pathetic "bad traffic".

    I'm a DC native, and I would have to say the most irritating traffic is that in Texas. I was just in San Antonio, a city whose roads have were designed just to confuse GPS by having as many overpasses on overpasses as can be constructed. Plus, they have no qualms about simply closing a road entirely, because they might consider doing some construction on it later maybe.



  • @bstorer said:

    I'm a DC native, and I would have to say the most irritating traffic is that in Texas. I was just in San Antonio, a city whose roads have were designed just to confuse GPS by having as many overpasses on overpasses as can be constructed. Plus, they have no qualms about simply closing a road entirely, because they might consider doing some construction on it later maybe.

    I love driving in Texas.  You can do 90 on all of the Interstates and it's so open.  The "on ramps" that just sort of merge in are a WTF and I did encounter a road that intersected with the Interstate somewhere way outside of Dallas, which I think violates Federal Interstate requirements.  Some parts of downtown Dallas are insane because left-turns require you to cross 4 lanes of traffic without a light, so it's pretty much just a matter of stomping the gas and praying.  Dallas drivers were bit a insane, but no worse than NYC drivers or your average Masshole.  I love Houston's stacked freeways, 5-high in some places.  Also, you need to learn to use a map instead of this damn GPS shit.  That is all.



  • Hook turns, as they are known in Australia, are comon in Melbourne, and there are a few in Adelaide. They are used for to reasons. Firstly, if you have trams in the middle of the road, then  this improves visibility's for turning across the traffic. Secondly, this allows long vehicles (in particular articulated busses) to turn where the road would otherwise not be wide enough. 



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    Also, you need to learn to use a map instead of this damn GPS shit.

    Luddite. Maybe I should use a horse-drawn carriage instead of a car, too? If I get lost on my way to the airport, I'll just call someone on my wireless telegraph and ask for directions; I wouldn't want to be late for my dirigible!



  • To the OP:  Jus think George Washington got across on his first attempt, although he didn't have to come back I suppose 🙂 

    @morbiuswilters said:

    I love driving in Texas.  You can do 90 on all of the Interstates and it's so open.  The "on ramps" that just sort of merge in are a WTF and I did encounter a road that intersected with the Interstate somewhere way outside of Dallas, which I think violates Federal Interstate requirements.  Some parts of downtown Dallas are insane because left-turns require you to cross 4 lanes of traffic without a light, so it's pretty much just a matter of stomping the gas and praying.  Dallas drivers were bit a insane, but no worse than NYC drivers or your average Masshole.  I love Houston's stacked freeways, 5-high in some places.  Also, you need to learn to use a map instead of this damn GPS shit.  That is all.

     2nded.  In college drove from MO to TX to see my sister @ A&M.  I have a bit of a lead foot anyway, but as a guy driving with out of state tags, I tried to obey the speed limit so that I didn't draw attention to myself.  Till I hit Dallas.  That's when Ford Expeditions, and trucks with duellies were blowing by while I was doing 80-85.  So I stepped it up and kept pace with them at around 90+

     The other great thing about TX is once you're off the interstate and you're going down some state hwy that's only 2 lane, they make the shoulders extra wide and slower people actually maintain speed and move on the shoulder to let you pass!  That was a nice surprise

     



  • @bstorer said:

    @morbiuswilters said:
    Also, you need to learn to use a map instead of this damn GPS shit.

    Luddite. Maybe I should use a horse-drawn carriage instead of a car, too? If I get lost on my way to the airport, I'll just call someone on my wireless telegraph and ask for directions; I wouldn't want to be late for my dirigible!

     

     

    Let's compromise

     




  • @bstorer said:

    Luddite. Maybe I should use a horse-drawn carriage instead of a car, too? If I get lost on my way to the airport, I'll just call someone on my wireless telegraph and ask for directions; I wouldn't want to be late for my dirigible!

    Well, you Virginians insist on using black slave laborers to pick your cotton even though mechanized farm equipment has proven far more efficient and ethical.  I figured you guys hadn't quite figured out the whole "auto-mobile" thing yet.

     

    P.S. Dirigibles are cool.  Fuck you.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    Well, you Virginians insist on using black slave laborers to pick your cotton even though mechanized farm equipment has proven far more efficient and ethical.  I figured you guys hadn't quite figured out the whole "auto-mobile" thing yet.

    Oh, come on! We officially apologized for slavery last year. Do we have to keep bringing it up?



  • @bstorer said:

    @morbiuswilters said:
    Well, you Virginians insist on using black slave laborers to pick your cotton even though mechanized farm equipment has proven far more efficient and ethical.  I figured you guys hadn't quite figured out the whole "auto-mobile" thing yet.

    Oh, come on! We officially apologized for slavery last year. Do we have to keep bringing it up?

    Only until you come out of the dark ages and accept that technology isn't a sin in the eyes of god.



  • My rule of thumb is that anytime you go somewhere new in Northern Virginia, you should add 20-30 minutes of getting-lost-time.



  • By the wya do you have mazes of one way streets.  boston is chock full of em. I hate the damn things



  • @galgorah said:

    By the wya do you have mazes of one way streets.  boston is chock full of em. I hate the damn things

    Do we have one-way streets? Ha! We have one-way streets that change which way they run during the day -- and they always change to be against the traffic flow. Also, if you're ever in DC, and someone tells you DC is simple because it's set out on a grid, I want you to ask them directions to 4th & D, and when they ask you which one you're talking about -- because there are four of them, kick them and run.


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