Monday, November 17, 2008

The Third Rush Hour.

Tyson's Corner, Virginia is what planners call an "edge city". An edge city is defined as having 465,000 square feet of office space, 600,000 sq. ft. of retail space and consists of more jobs than bedrooms. It's basically like a glorified office park with a big mall. I'm an avid critic of these concepts as they only promote auto-dependency, stress on the environment and in no way can complement a high-quality of life. The residents who do live there are bothered by incessant traffic during the day and nothing to do at night. The people who work there spend around one-to-two hours a day commuting to a sea of parking spaces and an office life void of character. It's really terrible.

So it's no surprise that a recent study informs that traffic is so congested in Tyson's Corner that there is now a third rush hour--when lunch time hits.

Having so many of the approximately 115,000 Tysons workers on the road, often driving less than a mile to grab a sandwich, is complicating construction plans for a Metrorail extension and Capital Beltway toll lanes that will rip up the streets around the area. An analysis of traffic counts shows more than 23,000 vehicles on the major Tysons thoroughfares, routes 7 and 123, between 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., surpassing the morning rush by 24 percent.

Things are so bad that traffic planners are introducing a lunchtime shuttle to try to get some of the vehicles off the road.

A lunchtime shuttle? Props to the planners for introducing a solution, but this problem shouldn't even exist in the first place. It's amazing how one can go to London, which is one of the world's largest metropolitans, and yet experience no problem like this whatsoever. You can thank General Motors and our policy makers of the 1950s for willfully destroying many public transportation systems throughout the country and thus putting us into the car-dependent society we live in. Today, as GM is asking for a multi-billion dollar bailout, I'm desperately hoping they don't get a cent from the Government.