Published on [Permalink]
Reading time: 2 minutes
Posted in:

First day of school blues

Today is the first day of school in Washington, D.C.

Every year this heralds a spike in traffic across our neighborhoods: School zones have an active impact on traffic flow again, more people walking and in crosswalks at intersections, parents who use cars to drop off kids and commute are suddenly out on the road at the same time, the few school buses D.C. uses for specific purposes are now on the road, etc. (I’ll save the digression on how the city’s public transportation doesn’t seem reliable for many or entirely safe for a lot of school students).

This is all as expected. It’d be great to get more of those cars off the road but in lieu of that…

How about not putting more road crews out this same morning? While the fairer months are the time for road improvements and projects that ultimately end with road repair, this actually seemed like an easily avoidable conflict for today.

I encountered more excavators, loaders, equipment trailers, traffic cones, closed-off streets and street sweepers this specific morning (not to mention, in our particular neighborhood it was also a trash collection day) than I have any morning in doing drop-offs and running errands all summer. As the “household majordomo” I’ve been making these runs frequently and with comparable timing — this was exceptional. It seemed as if all these crews were trying to get their summer homework done before homeroom after slacking off all summer.

The sudden burst in road work seemed to have a disproportionately powerful compounding effect and I think it would have made a notable positive difference (in chaos, safety, emissions, time saving) to pause or delay permits for all that activity by a day or two as the city settled back into its school year routine.

Or you know, make public transportation work (and in the long run, reduce how much that road work has to happen because of that too).