Monday, April 28, 2014

Mobility Expert Says Skip the Car Visiting Nation's Capital

I was interviewed by Amtrak for its fine blog, and the article, about what to do if you ride the train into Washington D.C., was just published. Anyone have any Amtrak stories to share?

Forgot where you left your car keys? Good!

According to one transportation expert, when you visit the nation’s capital you won’t ever need them. We sat down with cycling enthusiast and Communications Director at Mobility Lab Paul Mackie about the best sights in Washington, D.C., for this year’s National Train Day on May 10.

Besides the free festivities at the station, families will be happy to hear that the historic sights will “unfold” before you just steps outside of the train station, according to Mackie.

Amtrak: Our trains connect more than 500 destinations. Why is it important for small towns and big cities to have a variety of transportation options?

Me: I love traveling by train, and I would love for more people throughout the U.S. to understand that it’s often such a better, faster, more affordable option than traveling by car.

One of the great things about traveling by train is that most often one arrives in the middle of the city or town, which then makes renting a car an inconvenience of time and money. Having great access by walking, bikeshare, rental bikes, taxi, or local rail or bus transit to other key locations throughout town is an awesome amenity for people visiting for a short period of time.

For readers interested in visiting the area by train, what’s the one thing they can’t miss?
One site to not miss in D.C. is the Lincoln Memorial. The space is inspiring and majestic and – as the inscription suggests above Abraham Lincoln’s statue – it is a temple for contemplation. The views from the steps are breathtaking. Standing on the MLK “I have a dream” step, one can imagine the masses below inspired to envision a better America.

Americans have brought our hopes, dreams, despairs and demands – Marian Anderson with “My Country ‘tis of thee,” anti-war protestors during the Vietnam War, and candlelight vigils during the darkest days of the AIDS epidemic. For the memory of perhaps our greatest president and for the millions who have gathered to witness history around the Reflecting Pool, this space is hallowed ground.

Mobility Lab is located just outside of Washington, D.C. In your expert opinion, what’s the best way to get to the train station?
Mobility Lab is in the Rosslyn section of Arlington, Virginia – directly across the river from Georgetown in Washington, D.C. Metrorail is a convenient ride of 15 or 20 minutes to Union Station. If I don’t have too much luggage, Capital Bikeshare is a fun way to get across town either right through the bike-lane-heavy downtown or up The Mall.

For visitors who are more comfortable in their automobiles, is there some beginner advice you can offer for exploring the area without a car?
Mobility Lab Contributor Jessica Tunon has written some cool stuff at Mobility Lab about car-free travel and our partners at Car-Free Near Me have great resources.

Above all else, Washington is a great city for walking and biking, and frankly a pretty rough city for traffic congestion and parking.

Arriving by train at Union Station, from the front doors, one can see the U.S. Capitol dome just three blocks south. Walk straight towards it. Once there, you’ll see The Mall. Head down there and marvel at all the sites that will unfold before you.

Photo by 741 renfrowasd

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