As many as four million people are expected to descend on the National Mall today for the inauguration of Barack Obama as the nation’s 44th President. Contending with that mass of humanity has left officials with no choice but to implement temporary policies to get people in and out of the city as efficiently as possible. All of which has been great fodder for DC’s thriving livable streets blog scene. Some are hoping today will prove to be what Obama might call a teachable moment, showing residents what downtown Washington feels like with fewer cars and more freedom for pedestrians, cyclists, and buses.
The discussion online has covered chokepoints in the Metro system, proper pricing of park-and-ride spots, and the advantages of banning private auto traffic on Virginia-DC bridges. And bike valet parking and the utility of pedicabs. Predictably, AAA came out strong against the restrictions on car traffic, apparently contending that the optimal "mobility" solution would be to let streets completely clog up with private motorists.
This weekend I spoke to a relative of mine in the DC area who predicted carmaggeddon on the Maryland side of the district, as drivers attempt to bypass the ban. I suppose we’ll know soon enough whether Virginians are that attached to their cars.