That problem again: conflating the city and the metropolitan area and the annual report on traffic congestion
The Texas A&M Transportation Institute released its annual study, the 2012 Urban Mobility Report, on traffic congestion in the nation's metropolitan areas.
But because the center city of a metropolitan area and the metropolitan area are referred to by the same name, typically people think it's "the city" with the problem when usually (not always) the biggest problems are on the freeways and in the suburbs.
The Washington Post story "Washington rated the worst for traffic congestion — again" (Post graphic right) doesn't distinguish between the city and metropolitan area in the headline, but does, sort of, in the article, although it goes back and forth.
For those of us not relying on driving to and from and within the city, we do just fine.
What concerns me about the reporting is how it shapes perceptions of the issue and proposed solutions.
For example, people might think that "Washington, DC" proper should do a congestion charge, to deal with congestion (actually I think HOV-2 requirements on rush hour streets would go pretty far in terms of having a positive impact on traffic within the city), but the reality is that most of the real "congestion" is outside the city, and a charge in the city, but not outside of it, would end up diverting more commerce to the suburbs away from the city.
Or people would argue that we need to spend more money on roads for motor vehicles, when people throughput, at least in the city of Washington, is best maximized by transit, complemented by walking and to some extent biking.
As Jane Jacobs once said, when someone asked her "why aren't there enough roads?" ... "You're asking the wrong question. The right question is 'why are there so many cars?'"
Rockville Pike in the White Flint area. Washington Post photo by Bill O'Leary.
Springfield mixing bowl (I-395). Washington Post photo by Richard Lipski.