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Sustainable DC
Built Environment


Commute Mode Share in DC (2016). Taxi or motorcycle 1.3%. Bicycled 4.3%. Worked from home 5.2%. Carpooled 5.4%. Walked 13.3%. Drove alone 33.7%. Public transportation 36.8% Everyone in the District relies on our transportation system every day to get where they need to go—to work, to school, to see family and friends—and to connect to what they need—food, healthcare, and nature. The District, more so than most cities, puts enormous strain on its transportation system. The District’s population is approximately 700,000, but grows by almost 80 percent during the weekday. Many residents and workers enjoy convenient access to high quality sidewalks, bike lanes, and trails, however, access is unequal. Past practices like race-based redlining, land use, and development patterns have a lasting legacy, and some areas of the District have inferior access to public transportation or are so disconnected from city amenities that walking and biking are not viable transportation options. Further, differing physical abilities restrict others from getting around the District conveniently. Regardless of where one lives or one’s physical ability, all residents should have good access to high quality transit and safe, well-maintained sidewalks. All residents should also be able to move safely, no matter what mode of transportation they choose. However, every trip—whether by bus, bike, car, or train—begins and ends with a walk so prioritizing pedestrians in transportation planning is important. Equally important is funding maintenance. Decades of deferred maintenance on the Metrorail system which has resulted in very expensive and inconvenient work to get the system back to a state of good repair. An efficient, safe, and convenient transportation system isn’t just for people though. It fuels our economy through increased productivity, better supply chain management, and access to new workers and markets.

Sustainable DC 2.0’s actions on transportation have real-world benefits for the District at all levels:

Individual: Walking or biking to work—even if just part of the way—is one of the best ways to incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Just 30 minutes of walking—a 15 minute commute each way—is enough to reduce your risk of diabetes and high blood pressure.

Neighborhood: Walkable neighborhoods can support more local businesses because stores clustered together encourage customers to spend more money at multiple stores in the same area.

District: Traveling by public transportation is 10 times safer per mile than traveling by automobile. We each reduce the chance of being in a crash by more than 90 percent simply by taking public transit as opposed to commuting by car.

Traveling by public transit is 10 times safer per mile than traveling by car. 38% of DC households do not own a car. 21% of GHG emissions come from transportation.

Sustainable DC Transportation Goals:

  • Improve connectivity and accessibility through efficient, integrated and affordable transit systems.
  • Expand safe, connected infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists.
  • Enhance affordable, convenient transportation options to reduce dependency on single occupant vehicles.
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution from the transportation sector.

In 69 square mile DC, there are 1,100 miles of streets, 1,595 miles of sidewalks, 1,652 traffic signals, 7,700 intersections, 85 miles of bicycles lanes, 60 miles of multi-use trails, 241 bridges, 16 tunnels, 278 Capital Bikeshare stationsWhere We Are

  • As of fall 2018, DC has 278 Capital Bikeshare stations. In total, the regional bikeshare system has over 500 stations and over 4,300 bikes, making it one of the largest bikeshare systems in the country.

  • DC has 1,100 miles of streets, 241 bridges, 16 tunnels, and 1,959 miles of sidewalks. DC also has 85 miles of bicycle lanes, and 60 miles of multi-use trails.

  • There have still been too many pedestrian and bicycle deaths in DC with several high profile deaths in 2019. In response, DC is strengthening its Vision Zero work with goals to eliminate fatalities and serious injuries to travelers of our transportation system by 2024.

  • Metro is the third-largest heavy rail transit system and the sixth-largest bus network in the U.S. Metrorail has 118 miles, 6 rail lines, 91 stations, and 1,144 railcars. 30 percent of DC residents are within walking distance of a Metrorail system.

  • In 2016, District residents commuted by public transportation (36.8 percent), driving alone (33.7 percent), walking (13.3 percent), carpooling (5.4 percent), bicycling (4.3 percent), and taking taxis or motorcycles (1.3 percent). 5.2 percent of residents worked from home.

There's More

The Sustainable DC 2.0 transportation goals also directly connect to goals in Built Environment, Climate, Energy, Equity, and Health.

Read the entire Transportation section below, or read the whole plan here.

Go even deeper on transportation and read the District’s comprehensive transportation plan, MoveDC.

There are ways to take action at home and in your community: learn more here.


lviii: US Census Bureau; lix: District Department of Transportation (website and staff) as of 2018; lxi: Wall Street Journal; lxiii: American Public Transportation Association; lxiv: Department of Energy and Environment 2016 Greenhouse Gas Inventory; all as cited in Sustainable DC 2.0.