One of the thing that never makes it in books that are set in Washington, DC, is the traffic. Anyone who lives here knows it’s not only a way of life — there’s a culture associated with it. Residents know that it’s best to avoid downtown during Cherry Blossoms, White House Easter Egg Hunts, and floods. Traffic goes from bad to very, very, very bad. Summer is also bad because the tourists get stupid and walk out in the middle of the street without looking. Then there’s the messenger bikes — these guys do not stop for stoplights or cars. They just weave in and out of the moving traffic.
Part of the problem is that we have a transitory population. There’s a large military community, so they’re only here 1-2 years; ambassadors and foreign diplomats; politicians. Then there’s the guy who immigrated from another country where it’s okay there to cut across three lanes of traffic to make a right turn. There are also drivers who will speed up to avoid letting another driver in and ones who will cut in line because they have an inflated sense of self-importance. All of this creates chaos because no one is following the same rules.
So I have to shake my head when an author has a high speed chase down 17th Street. Or anywhere else in DC. L.A., yeah, I could believe that. The streets are long and wide, but DC — the streets just aren’t exactly chase friendly. Maybe Pennsylvania Avenue and Independence, but it’d be pretty hard to do without hitting a tourist.
What are some unique aspects about the place where you live?
Also check out my post on Planning Washington, DC.