Like you, I’m more than happy when I can drive in the HOV lane during rush hour. A few times a month, I pick my son up from middle school and “just like that” I qualify as a High Occupancy Vehicle. Wait. I’m pretty sure the intent was to actually reduce the number of vehicles being driven by carpooling with other drivers. Packing my 12 year old doesn’t accomplish this at all. Since the current HOV rule seems to be in my favor, I gladly, and carefully, maneuver to the far left lane and zip past all the poor suckers with no passengers. But wait, the HOV lane isn’t really going any faster, as I notice a large number of those single passenger vehicles moving into there HOV lane, right along with me. Well, that just isn’t right is it? Where are those law enforcement officers when you need them? (Hopefully engaged in some real crime fighting as they should be)
Does this scenario sound familiar to anyone else who uses the 270 parking lot on a daily basis? How many times have you said to yourself, “If they only…” I know I have. And here’s the rest of my story. As a short-term solution to the bumper-to-bumper workday traffic on 270, I offer the following solution. Short of conferring with a few experts, this is my opinion.
The first action is to enforce the rules. Since this is a law enforcement issue, I’ll let check with the appropriate leadership before stating any detailed solutions in this regard. Maybe it’s a dedicated team working twice a day during rush hour. Maybe it’s a camera system. Maybe it’s a combination of both. The bottom line is no one respects rules that are not enforces.
Now, let’s make it easier to enforce that first action while modifying the HOV rule itself to more closely align it with the original intent (I assume). The idea for an HOV lane is to reduce the number of vehicles by rewarding drivers who carpool. Taking my 12 year old to and from school does not accomplish that goal. I suggest modifying the posted rule for HOV access to specifically require at least two licensed drivers. Having the second driver in the front seat, unless circumstance require otherwise, will make identifying violators much easier. An alternative modification would be to mandate at least 50% of the vehicle capacity (seat belts) be filled. For example, if your vehicle safely seats five people, you will need at least three occupants to qualify for the HOV lane. Motorcycles qualify with one occupant!
The beauty of this solution is the simplicity, the cost, and the timeframe in which it can be established. The worst effect is that people refuse to comply, stay in the travel lanes, add to those numbers, and slow down the already snail-paced speed, adding an additional 5 minutes to get to work. But those guys in the HOV lane sure are moving nicely.