Donald and Melania Trump travelled just 230m in the presidential parade limousine with a motorcade of at least seven other vehicles to welcome George W Bush to the presidential guest quarters, according to video footage.
The Trumps spent 23 minutes visiting with Mr Bush and his wife Laura at Blair House across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House on Tuesday.
It was the latest in a series of gestures that Mr Trump has made this week to honour the legacy of former president George HW Bush, whose state funeral will take place at National Cathedral.
However, the need for the motorcade prompted questions about why the Trumps were unable - or unwilling - to simply walk across the street.
“Presidents, including the last one, have made the walk before,” said Ned Price, who served as National Security Council spokesman in the Obama administration.
“Bone spurs?” tweeted Sam Vinograd, a CNN political analyst and also a former Obama national security veteran. The joke referenced Mr Trump's explanation about his deferment from the Vietnam War draft.
He also recalled another occasion, a year earlier, when Mr Obama and White House chief of staff Denis McDonough left the White House for a quick trip to a nearby Starbucks.
Mr Obama joked to reporters that “the bear is loose” - a reference to his 2008 campaign when he felt confined by his newfound Secret Service bubble.
“It's good coffee. The President bought it,” Mr Price recalled Mr McDonough telling him when they returned to the White House.
Mr Trump's motorcade travelled along West Executive Drive, between the White House and the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. The iron security gates along Pennsylvania Avenue swung open and the presidential limo turned left, stopping a few yards later in front of Blair House, a stately white brick house with black shutters.
Pennsylvania Avenue and Lafayette Park had been cleared of pedestrians, who usually congregate in front of the White House for pictures or protests, as is custom when foreign leaders or other dignitaries are staying at Blair House.
Presidential motorcades typically encompass more than a dozen vehicles, including Secret Service counter assault teams, medical personnel, White House aides and the press corps.
In this case, the pool reporters shadowing Mr Trump's movements were positioned ahead of time across the street from Blair House and were not in the motorcade.
The weather was overcast and cold but there was no rain. President Trump was the only one of the four to wear an overcoat.
White House aides declined to comment when asked why the Trumps chose to take a motorcade.
Mr Obama often employed a full motorcade for short trips, including fundraisers at nearby hotels such as the Jefferson, just a few blocks from the White House. Those trips entailed closing roads in downtown Washington, sometimes during rush hour.
Like his predecessors, Mr Trump also took a motorcade to the recent lighting of the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse.
However, Mr Trump left the press pool behind after his speech when he returned to the White House, leaving them stranded them in cold weather.
The White House pool of 13 reporters, photographers and videographers has long shadowed the US president to record his movements for history and in case of an emergency