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Escaping the DC Commute

  • Zuleqa Husain
  • Ilyas Khan

Commuting to work by car in many U.S. cities is a nightmare for many drivers as they fight bumper-to-bumper traffic to reach their destinations. This is true in the nation's capital, where a recent study found the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area is tied with Atlanta, Georgia as having the second-worst traffic congestion in the United States. But one commuter in Washington has found a unique way to get to work. VOA's Jim Bertel narrates this report by Urdu TV's Zuleqa Husain and cameraman Ilyas Khan.

Each morning, Gabriel Horchler leaves his house in Maryland and rides his bike to a nearby marina. There, instead of driving on a freeway to work, he rows up the Anacostia River to his job in Washington, D.C.

Unlike other D.C. residents who dread their morning commutes, Horchler considers his trip on the river 'the highlight of his day'. He says, "It's just a good way to start the day, just being out on the river. The solitude, and the wildlife, the birds and the beavers. It's a very nice experience."

Horchler uses a light-weight fiberglass rowing boat to make the trip upriver to his job at the Library of Congress. His ten kilometer commute lasts about an hour.

"I arrive at work with a good attitude, ready to face the challenges of the day" he said.

Horchler, who is 63, has been rowing to work for eight years. He shares his motivation. "I got tired of fighting the traffic, and I also looked at a map and realized that the Anacostia River was a direct route from close to where we live to close to where I work."

Getting to work this way is more than just exercise and a sense of accomplishment for Horchler. Growing up on the banks of the Delaware river in Pennsylvania, he was always drawn to water. He says the commute is peaceful and "I find it to be an almost spiritual experience. My mind is very clear and I can meditate. It's transcendental."

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