One of the things I like about major, urban cities is that the ability to get around by walking. This is certainly the case in New York City and Paris but not the case with Los Angeles, where you need a car to get around. Washington, DC certainly is a very walkable city.
I grew up in and near Tokyo. The best way to get around Tokyo is by walking and taking the impressive train system. I also visit NY regularly, including many, many business trips over the past 16 years. My preferred method to get around Manhattan is also by walking and taking the subway. Paris and London are other cities that are very walkable.
One of the reasons love having the option to walk to work in DC now is that I had a long commute for 14 years. From ’95 – ’09, I drove nearly every day to and from Arlington, where I live, to Sterling / Ashburn, where I worked at AOL (actually the first 18 months I drove to our AOL offices in Tysons Corner but then we moved our HQ to a campus setting in early ’97). So, basically, I made a 26-mile commute each morning and night for over 12 years (I still don’t know how marathoners run that distance). In the mornings, it normally took 30 – 45 minutes to drive to AOL but the ride back home in the evening was another story — often times it took at least an hour to get back home. It was so frustrating to be stuck in the rush hour traffic.
But, now that I’m a sports consultant and college professor, I walk to or walk / take Metro to nearly 90% of my meetings. I love taking the 1-mile, 15-minute walk from my home in Rosslyn to Georgetown University. Why? There are a number of reasons — 1) it’s healthy to get out and walk 20 – 30 minutes daily, 2) it’s a beautiful walk across Key Bridge, 3) there’s a certain peacefulness when you walk near water – I love being near the Potomac River, 4) often it’s quicker to walk to campus vs driving, being stuck in Key Bridge traffic and then trying to find parking, and 5) walking gives you time to clear your head.
In addition to the Georgetown neighborhood, there are so many other places to walk in DC, including downtown on K St, DuPont Circle, Adams Morgan, Rock Creek, etc. I know locals in DC have their favorite places.
Walking regularly does allow one to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells much better than traveling by car. It also is a good way to get in some regular exercise. Obesity is a major issue in the US — one of the reasons is that people insist on traveling by car (80% of people in the US commute to work by car). Look at how many fit people are in Paris and Tokyo. Why? Because so many people there are walking to navigate their cities.
So, if you get the chance, carve out some time and try to walk a bit vs constantly getting in the car to get around. After so many years of always traveling by car, it’s been a great change in lifestyle the past couple of years to walk on a regular basis.