Tag Archives: dc

Megan McArdle on DC Drivers

Well worth a read:

I could not have imagined, before I moved to DC, that I would find driving through New York City traffic soothing. But this is exactly how I do feel, when I drive back to New York. New York City drivers are extremely aggressive and numerous, but they are rational and predictable. I never feel like I don’t know what a cab driver is about to do; of course, he’s about to try to cut me off at around 35 miles per hour. But he isn’t about to pull over into the left lane of a major thoroughfare at 35 miles per hour, slam on the brakes, and back up traffic for fifteen minutes while he waits for an opening in opposing traffic so that he can pull into the hotel driveway across the street. Because even a New York City cab driver can recognize that that would be insane.

Kind of Defeats the Purpose, Doesn’t it?

Actual press release from the WMATA: “Ride Metro to Bike to Work Day

Not sure if this press release conveys its intended message very effectively.

Regulation of the Day 129: Droves of Animals on Streets

Washington, DC city law states that “No loose herd or flock shall be driven or conducted in the District, except with a permit issued by the Chief of Police.” (See District of Columbia Municipal Regulations, Title 24, Chapter 9, Sec. 906.10.)

Many, many years ago, Washington was a pretty rural place. There were even farms in the Northwest and Southeast quadrants of the city. This was before the automobile, and well before the federal workforce climbed into the millions. But a lot of these old laws are still on the books. Nobody seems to have thought to get rid of them.

Other animal herding laws in DC include:

-No droves of mules or horses larger than six animals are allowed. (906.6)

-However, “Horned cattle may be led singly by a rope or halter through any of the streets in the District.” (906.8). That includes K Street, Constitution Avenue, and every other street in the District, great or small (Note to self: this might be worth trying someday).

-As with cars, the driving age for herds is 16. (906.12)

-A drove of sheep crossing a bridge must have at least six drovers. (906.4)

-It is illegal to “water, feed, or clean any horse, mule, cow, or other animal” within 15 feet of a fire hydrant. The same rule apples to cars.(906.13)

(Hat tip: Marc Scribner)

This Is How Terrorists Win

Fear is a terrorist’s only effective weapon. There are so few of them, and their attacks are so rare, that fear is all they have. Yet they win victory after victory. People and governments have an irrational tendency to over-react to rare but conspicuous threats. Here’s our latest loss:

[Washington, DC] Metro Transit Police will hold a “major anti-terrorism show of force” Tuesday during rush hour at one of the agency’s “busiest Metrorail station,” according to a media advisory released by the agency…

Metro said about 50 officers from several Metro Transit Police units will participate in the exercise, including anti-terrorism and K-9 explosives detection teams, bomb technicians, mobile and foot patrols.

As a daily user of the DC Metro, here’s hoping this security theater production happens as far away from my commute as possible.

Regulation of the Day 94: Plastic Shopping Bags

Retailers have traditionally provided free shopping bags to their customers as a courtesy. Washington, DC’s city government – known for being less than courteous – is now requiring stores to charge customers five cents for each plastic bag they use at checkout.

The tax is environmentally motivated. Since the city is acting so urgently on shopping bags, that implies that they must be the most urgent environmental threat facing DC. If that’s the case, then DC must be a veritable ecological paradise, or else its priorities are misplaced. One or the other must be true.

There were 84 unsolved murders in DC in 2009, by the way.

In lieu of plastic bags, the city is urging people to buy reusable cloth bags. But those have an environmental footprint nearly 100 times larger than a plastic bag, according to Sierra Club data. They have to be used many, many times before they cause any savings. They are also a haven for bacteria if not regularly washed. And washing them adds to their footprint.

Washington, DC has a lot of problems. Expensive but inferior schools, crime, violence, high taxes and spending – the list is long. The epidemic of plastic bags littering the streets is right at the bottom of that list. It should be prioritized accordingly. The regressive plastic bag tax should be repealed.