Cars, Personal Finance, Travel, Work

The Idiocy of Carpool Lanes

carppol laneI hate rush hour almost as much as I hate Paris Hilton.

I understand that scientists believe that we are putting the earth into an oven and turning up the heat too high. I’m keeping their warnings in mind and making rational decisions with this information. When I have saved enough to make a down payment on a house, I’ll be looking for my beachfront property several miles inland.

While I realize the need to find solutions to reduce the amount of fossil fuels we burn, carpool lanes are a freaking idiotic solution that piss me off to no end. No matter how good carpool lanes may make tree huggers feel, the fact is that they promote global warming rather than help fight against it. Even a guy like me that spends most of his time drinking beer on a couch can see this. It’s a classic version of what the tree huggers want to happen versus reality.

Tree huggers argue that the car pool lanes will encourage people to drive with more than a single person in the car and thus take a car off the road, but fail to realize that driving with more than one person in a car is as unamerican as having a summer BBQ with generic food. It may be good in theory, but nobody is going to do it (well, except for my next door neighbor).

It’s a lot like lima beans when I was a kid. My mother would tell me how great the lima beans were for me and how they would make me grow up strong if I ate them. While this might have been true, there was no fricken way I was going to place those lima beans into my mouth. The fact is that people using carpool lanes like the tree huggers want is never going to happen no matter how much they want it to.

The result is a lot of wasted gas and money out of my pocket for no good reason. You have 4 highway lanes with bumper to bumper traffic crawling along wasting gas as they idle while the carpool lane has a huge SUV whiz by every few minutes at top speed, but otherwise empty. The cars bumper to bumper are wasting gas not moving and the SUV going at top speed isn’t helping the environment any either.

So in a futile situation like this, there was only one thing to do: secretly try to give the lima beans to the dog under the table and pass it off as if I had eaten them.

My first attempt to beat the system was to use my dog as my second person. When the cop pulled me over, I explained that I considered the dog a family member. The cop congratulated me and gave me a $250 ticket to celebrate.

Attempt number two was to try and convince the cop that my imaginary friend should count as the second person in the car. I guess I should feel lucky that all I got was the $250 ticket and not a week rest in the local mental institution.

Attempt number three with the sex blow-up doll actually worked the first time. The cop laughed so hard that he just walked back to the car and waved me on my way. I thought I’d found the perfect solution until the next cop that stopped me had right-wing family values instead of a sense of humor and I had another $250 ticket.

My sister says that I should just play by the rules, but that easy for her to say. She doesn’t have to play by the rules since she has a built free pass to the whole thing: a kid in a car seat. It’s nothing more than a huge carpooling loophole. The tree huggers championed carpool lanes to take cars off the road, not to give my sister a free ride in the carpool lane to get her kid to daycare or go shopping. It pisses me off not so much that she has found a loophole, but that she has found one that I can’t exploit as well, at least for the time being.

So I’m left with the following decision: waste gas, pollute the environment and lose time sitting with all the other cars in the traffic jam or risk getting a $250 ticket for wanting to save myself some gas, help relieve global warming and get to where I need to be a bit quicker. I wonder if getting a baby car seat and strapping in a doll would pass the lima bean test?

Image courtesy of Hysterical Bertha

14 thoughts on “The Idiocy of Carpool Lanes

  1. Maybe if you spent more time on figuring out how to carpool rather than cheat the system, you could have saved yourself $750 in tickets. You deserved everything you got.

    What you fail to realize is that if the carpool lane was opened up, it would be clogged with cars just as much as the other lanes and you wouldn’t get to work any faster.

  2. Finally, someone with sense about carpool lanes. They are the the worst thing ever and get abused all the time. Especially the moms with kids in their Suburbans.

  3. A carpool lane is convenient for me. I have the free pass your sister does, and sometimes I actually have a friend with me. Now this is all a moot point in that I live far from any cities large emough for carpool lanes. I do visit Denver on occasion. One word of warning, it IS possible to end up in a closed diamond-lane just by making one wrong decision, pray traffic isn’t coming your way if you end up there.

  4. We don’t have carpool lanes in these parts (Philly/NJ/Delaware area) but we do encounter them around DC when we drive to Florida each year. I love them. Rather than being stuck in bumper to bumper traffic all through the DC area, we get to zip past miles and miles of traffic in the carpool lanes since there are 3 of us in the van.

    I do agree, though, that they really don’t accomplish anything as far as saving energy or reducing global warming is concerned.

  5. I didn’t realize’s daily blog would be hurting so much after Shannon Christman’s departure.

    It’s simple: carpool, bus, or take a motorcycle to ride in the carpool lane. The fewer cars on the road, the more gas or oil and money are saved, and the faster the commute gets.

    Maybe my perspective comes from living in a city that has the third worst rush-hour traffic in the nation.

    And I don’t get the “it’s unAmerican” bit either: how many US movies have you seen where characters meet sharing a cab in New York City? Did Thomas Alva Edison have all those patents and inventions because he was too American to bother with forward-thinking ideas?

    I ride a motorcycle in the carpool lane.The $750 I pay to ride in it goes to feed and insure my scoot for a year.

    I was also a passenger in a car whose occupancy was carpool-legal when we were hit by a Chevy Trailblazer commandeered by a woman who thought her big dogs counted as occupants too. She claimed the dogs weren’t obeying her commands to sit down as she illegally tried to get into the carpool lane.

  6. This could be a good and informative article if it did not include so much bashing of other people and their ideas.

    According to the author of this piece, the idea of HOV lanes is “idiotic”, “Treehuggers” are apparently misguided and out of touch with reality, and carpooling is “unamerican”. Since this classification means that I am misguided and unamerican, I resent it strongly.

    Was there no way to present these ideas without name-calling and knee-jerk hostility? How about researching the effectiveness of HOV lanes (which is certainly questionable) and presenting some alternative ideas?

  7. My complaint about carpool lanes is that I’m not sure they do much to encourage carpooling.

    I’ve never talked to someone who carpooled because they wanted to use the carpool lane. Using it is just opportunistic, when you happen to have more than one person in the car.

    I think a *much* better solution is a fare lane. For $10 per trip, you get to drive in the fast lane. If the fast lane gets congested, then charge $15.

  8. The HOV lanes in Denver are well used and the buses are standing room only.

    Denver recently opened up the HOV lanes for single payer Tolls. I don’t have data on how much extra has been made however but I think it was a good compromise and hopefully will add some well needed highway funds.

    Personally I think the ‘idiocy’ in this article is the author. It makes me happy to see that you got ticketed.

    I also don’t see how this is ‘saving advice’. I don’t know how much you got paid to write this article but I would ask for the money back.

  9. God, relax people. Have you read any of his other articles? Beer Guy makes stupid choices and mocks everyone and everything. His articles are the redneck approach to finance. Enjoy what it is; if you can’t, read something else.

  10. FACTS: One carpool lane allows as many traffic as two congested regular lanes. SUVs traveling at highway speeds are operating efficiently.

    but… I will try the blow up doll trick.

  11. They just extended the HOV lane by ONE HOUR on one of the most congested stretches in the Bay Area…WTF?

    I am unpopular with friends who inhale loudly, shocked, when I say I think carpool lanes are crap. How are they helping the environment??? THEY AREN’T.

    Trust me, if I COULD CARPOOL, I WOULD! But I can’t. And, note to you self-righteous mothers – carting your kid around ain’t carpooling! By those standards, carpooling with my wallet or my purse would be just as well – they’re both things I have to take with me!

    I am so aggravated that I have to pay taxes for upkeep on a lane that I can’t even USE! It’s not fair, right and it echoes the liberal mind of “people should do the right thing.” – well, they should but they won’t and now you’ve cause a bigger problem. Well done….dips*its.

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