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Neighborhood determines whether people walk or drive

Thursday - 5/17/2012, 9:23am  ET

Kristi King, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - Traffic in the metro D.C. area can be unbearably slow and congested, but some regional leaders say there's plenty of room for new people to move here without adding gridlock.

High-rises and mini-cities clustered around public transit and walkable communities are the answer to smooth commutes, according to a new survey of travel habits by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.

Among people living in Woodbridge, Va. or Fredrick, Md., about one in 10 makes trips on foot. But in Logan Circle where most folks (86 percent) live in condos or apartments people walk more than half the time (57 percent). Also in Logan Circle household heads are more likely to own bikes than cars.

The travel habits survey also shows in Reston, Va., 79 percent of people drive to work alone in their cars. In Frederick, 84 percent drive solo. While in Crystal City one in five takes public transit.

One woman whose family moved to White Flint, Md. from Gaithersburg, Md. tells The Washington Post her husband has a 5-minute commute to work on foot. She even walks to do grocery shopping. Noting that they moved for convenience, she now finds the added exercise is a bonus.

Transportation leaders say local land use and development planning can influence traffic and congestion, as well as people's behaviors within their neighborhoods.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)