Tag Archives: commuting

What’s slugging?

28 Nov

I first heard the term “slugging” when I was taking a commuter survey for work. One of the choices of transportation—along with car, Metro, walk and bike—was slugging. I had no idea what it was so I asked my all-knowing coworker. Slugging, it turns out, is when drivers pick up other commuters at designated “slug lines” so that they can take advantage of HOV (High Occupancy Vehicles) lanes, including I-66,  during rush hour.

After learning about this casual carpooling, my first thought was, “People actually do this? Like on a twice-a-day basis?” Well, turns out they do. And the website Slug-Lines.com is really well organized—there are signs that you can print out to put on your car window saying where you’re going. There’s even a lost and found! Slugging occurs in other parts of the country, but it’s biggest in the DC and Northern Virginia area.

What I find particularly great about slugging is that there’s strictly followed etiquette. If you’re the slug, for example, you cannot initiate conversation. If the driver wants to talk than that’s one thing, otherwise you just ignore each other except for saying “thank you” at the end of the trip. And no money is exchanged since both parties benefit from the arrangement.

While there is no cell in my body that has any interest in commuting this way, I certainly appreciate the creativity and cooperation behind it!

Capital Bikeshare

18 Oct

In 2008, Clear Channel brought a public bike share program to DC: SmartBike. It was a cool idea, but it didn’t take long to realize that the program itself pretty much sucked. First off, there weren’t many bikes or bike stations. Second, they had no plans of expanding. Third, the bikes started looking pretty sad and tired looking. And last but not least, you had to pay for a yearly membership (thus excluding tourists and the occasional rider).

But hope has arrived! This past September, DC launched Capital Bikeshare. With 1,100 bikes and 100 docking stations throughout the city and Northern Virginia, it’s the largest bike share program in the U.S. And you can pay for a day, a month or a year. In the past month and a half, I’ve already seen more people using the new bikes than I ever saw using the SmartBikes.

Keep in mind, you have to bring your own helmet. And the two bike share programs aren’t combined, so don’t think you can rent a bike from one program and return it to a docking station for the other. I’m not sure what the city plans on doing with the old program, but I suspect it will completely disappear soon.

Below is a promo video that explains how to get a bike. Happy peddling!