Commuting can be a lousy experience even on a normal day. When the temperature and humidity combine to turn the Washington region into a sweaty mess, your travel to and from work can hit a whole new level of misery.
Let’s examine the many ways that hot and humid weather can make for a hellish commute.
Standing and Waiting for Buses and Trains
It’s before 8 a.m. It’s already in the mid-80s and unbearably humid. And there you stand on the train platform or bus stop. You are sweating like a hog in your dress shirt and questioning all of your life choices.
You like to pedal your way to work to get the exercise and reduce your carbon footprint. That’s great! But when it’s this hot, that cycling workout can get really tough. You’re sweating. Your Spandex is chafing. Suddenly, that enjoyable workout to start your day feels more like punishment, and if you’re not prepared with enough fluids we may end up peeling you off the asphalt.
The Temperature Transition
Your office is pumping the air conditioning, and that’s a good thing. But when there’s a sudden 30 degree drop in temperature when you walk into the building, that’s a shock to the system. Women will be dressed sensibly in dresses mean for hot weather, but then we find them wrapped in cardigans in their cubicles. The human body is not designed to deal with drastic changes in temperature, and this probably contributes to the spread of summer colds and other ailments.
Stations With No Air Conditioning
Maybe someday before the end of time, they’ll fix the AC at Farragut North. But until then, we suffer. There’s nothing better than walking outside on a 99-degree day and then heading underground into a crowded, uncooled station.
Buses and Trains With No Air Conditioning
You wait on a platform in the heat, only to enter a confined space that is a) hotter and b) has poorer air circulation and c) is filled with miserable people. This sucks.
Train Heat Restrictions
When temperatures top 90, MARC train and VRE commonly install heat restrictions on certain lines. Hot temperatures can cause rails to buckle, so trains take care to travel as slow as 40 miles per hour. This adds time to your ride in. Add in a long, hot wait for the train or a train with broken AC, and you’re in Miseryville.
When it gets hot, your car is more likely to break down. The American Automobile Association last week said it is expecting an increase of calls for Emergency Roadside Assistance this week, estimating that 33,000 motorists will report themselves stranded over the July 4 holiday. Engines can overheat. Car batteries can die. Tires can expand in hot weather and explode. Standing with a broken down car on the side of a scorching highway? That’s pure misery.
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