[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here. Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]
Update: I am not sure anyone cares right now, but the traffic didn’t turn out to be that bad. I don’t know if it’s because lots of people stayed home, or what, but for me at least the commute was about normal. So now it’s an academic issue, but let me add a few thoughts.
First, if someone can explain to me why they had to do it this weekend, I will take it all back. Look I understand that the people have a God-given right to protest, to demonstrate, to peaceably assemble and petition their government. So to a certain extent it is a price of living here that we have to put up with these kinds of disruptions. And certainly the state police are right to say they can’t bar them from doing this—they have as much a right to the roads as anyone. This post was a criticism, but not a call for some kind of deprivation of rights.
Five million people live in the greater D.C. area, and I would guess only at most 20% of them work directly for the government or with people interacting directly with it. The rest are people who work in restaurants, or for software companies or whatever. These are regular people, no different from any of you, who live ordinary lives, picking up kids from soccer practice, or seeing a family member. Some of our jobs depend on access to the roads. For instance, my company is engaged in home care. How would you feel about this remembrance ride if your elderly mother was not able to get needed care because of it? How would my wife feel if her brother couldn’t make his dialysis appointment because of this? I don’t believe anyone was hurt like that, but that was the risk we were running.
And if you combine that with the fact that no one has put forward any good reason to do it this weekend, instead of a normal three day weekend, when the impact would be felt much less… yeah, then it seems kind of thoughtless of them. At the very least, I think they need to do some PR work, explaining to us why this was all necessary.
The original post will resume as originally written.
So today there is apparently going to be a major traffic clusterfrak:
Motorists should avoid Western Maryland and Northern Virginia on Friday, Aug. 19, and Interstate 95 North in Maryland on Saturday morning, Aug. 20. Police expect to escort 1,800 motorcycles on a Sept. 11 tribute ride that will require closing some of the region’s most congested highways.
The potential for gridlock Friday afternoon is of such concern that the U.S. Office of Personnel Management “strongly urges” federal employees to telework or take leave. A Virginia highway spokeswoman advised all Northern Virginia commuters to treat Friday as a snow day and work from home.
They’re going to jam up the Dulles Airport toll road (that is the road designed to help people get to and from the airport) and I-66 and various roads in Maryland. All of this is part of their plan to honor those who died on 9-11.
Travelers are also likely to face major delays in reaching Reagan National Airport and leaving Dulles International Airport. If forecast thunderstorms occur, motorcycle riders would have to lower their speeds, causing more backups on the three-day ride, which begins Friday in Shanksville, Pa., travels to the Pentagon and ends Sunday in downtown Manhattan….
Ted Sjurseth, a Leesburg resident and president of the nonprofit group America’s 911 Foundation, which organized the ride, said it must pass through the Washington region Friday afternoon and Saturday morning in order to reach all three plane-crash sites within three days.
He said the group understands its effect on traffic but hopes those caught in the backups will remember their cause.
“We’re here breathing today and trying to honor those who gave their life that day,” Mr. Sjurseth said. “There’s no great time to do it. . . . We’re not here to party. It’s a remembrance ride.”
Sjurseth said the group had 2,800 participants as of Wednesday, close to its goal of 2,977 participants — one for every person killed in the terrorist attacks. Most will be riding on 1,800 motorcycles, he said, and about 60 will assist with breakdowns and any injuries. He said the group raises money for $2,000 college scholarships awarded to children of police officers and fire and rescue workers.
So, yeah, look. First, I appreciate the desire to commemorate that day, especially in the first year in which Osama bin Laden will not be among the living. I admit that I never found memorial motorcycle rides to be a very good way to memorialize anything, but to each their own. You express yourself your way, I will express myself my way.
And it’s great that you are raising money for that charity, too.
But you don’t have to do this during my damn commute. I mean first, you could do all of this in two days. You do a memorial on Saturday morning in Shanksville, come down to the Pentagon that afternoon and do another memorial and then drive all Sunday to the third in New York City. It’s not that difficult.
And if you absolutely insist on taking three days to do this, then why not pick a three day weekend? I mean its not like as if you are doing it on the anniversary of the events, or even particularly close to it. Like you could have done it on labor day weekend, and not only avoided dropping a giant turd on my commute but you would have been very close to the anniversary itself to boot.
So to be blunt, Mr. Sjurseth, I don’t understand. There is a better time to do it. But you folks have chosen instead to disrupt our lives.
And I consider that to be pretty thoughtless of you.
Now, I am frankly writing this the night before and maybe it will all turn out to be overblown. Or maybe enough people will just stay home that it won’t be very bad.
Or maybe most people won’t know the back way we use to get home.
But still you have chosen a course of action that seems to be needlessly disrupting our lives.
[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]