“Slugging” saves DC/VA Drivers and Riders Time and Money

David LeBlanc started slugging in 1997 and has been doing it ever since. He’s such a strong slugging supporter that he wrote a short guide and system map for users and now runs the Slug Lines website which is dedicated to the idea.

“Slugging” is an innovative, grassroots form of commuting in Washington DC and Northern Virginia that helps commuters get in and out of the city easily and efficiently. High occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, which require two or more passengers to use, provided the inspiration: drivers who would like to use the more efficient lanes pick up passengers – nicknamed “slugs” – and passengers, for their part, get a free and easy ride into the city. People almost always ride with strangers, but there’s a thriving community of devoted “sluggers.”

No one regulates or manages slugging; it’s a grassroots community of commuters who create carpools on the fly. A few other cities around the country have tried it to varying degrees, but it’s uniquely successful in the DC metro area. No one has ever conducted a formal survey or tally, but in 2007 the Virginia DOT pegged the number of daily sluggers at approximately 10,000 commuters.

LeBlanc visited Smart Growth America’s headquarters this week to discuss some of the frequently asked questions about slugging.

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Smart growth news – July 5, 2011

Get Ready for $150 Oil
Barron’s, July 2, 2011
As oil producers’ spare capacity gradually declines to worrisome levels, the average monthly price could reach a record $150 per barrel by next spring, with spikes to $165 or $170. With this, $4.50-a-gallon gasoline will become the norm. That will put a huge dent in consumer wallets, while ramping up the desirability of fuel-efficient cars.

In Los Angeles, Cuts Will Make Long Bus Commute Longer
New York Times, July 3, 2011
“Changing lines means I will never know what time I get from one place to another,” said Guadalupe Lopez, who has used the same route for more than a decade to get to her housekeeping jobs. “It might get to the point where it is not worth it, it will just take me too long. But nobody where I live is going to pay me to clean houses.”

Safety in Diversity: Why Crime Is Down in America’s Cities
The Atlantic, July 2, 2011
But the key factor, as it turns out, lies in the growing racial, ethnic, and demographic diversity of our cities and metro areas. Our analysis found that the Hispanic share of the population is negatively associated with urban crime. Crime also fell as the percentage of the population that is non-white and the percentage that is gay increased. And of all the variables in our analysis, the one that is most consistently negatively associated with crime is a place’s percentage of foreign-born residents.

Bicycles fight for space on city streets
CNN, July 1, 2011
“As bicycling is being more seriously integrated into our transportation system, of course there is going to be more focus on making sure that bike riders are following the rules to make it safe for everyone,” said Caroline Samponaro. She’s the Director of Bicycle Advocacy at Transportation Alternatives, a New York based organization that advocates for bicycling, walking and other alternative transportation. The streetscape in New York is undergoing its greatest change in 50 years and the state’s Department of Transportation is trying out new types of infrastructure to support bicycling.

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Smart growth news- June 29, 2011

After 55 Years, Where Are We on Highways?
National Journal, June 27, 2011
How far have we come since this first highway bill? Is the highway system now true to Eisenhower’s vision of a workable, free, transcontinental roadway? Are there new technological or demographic changes since 1955 that should be incorporated into the surface-transportation goals? If Eisenhower was alive now, what would you tell him about his proudest domestic accomplishment?

If baby boomers stay in suburbia, analysts predict cultural shift
Washington Post, June 28, 2011
The nation’s suburbs are home to a rapidly growing number of older people who are changing the image and priorities of a suburbia formed around the needs of young families with children, an analysis of census data shows. Although the entire United States is graying, the 2010 Census showed how much faster the suburbs are growing older when compared with the cities. Thanks largely to the baby-boom generation, four in 10 suburban residents are 45 or older, up from 34 percent just a decade ago. Thirty-five percent of city residents are in that age group, an increase from 31 percent in the last census.

Green Transportation Research Bill Introduced in the House
AltTransport, June 28, 2011
While a lot of attention is being paid to new surface transportation authorizations from the House and Senate, Representative David Wu (D-Oregon) introduced another transportation-related bill Monday that aims to fund research on alternative transportation.

California: Mission Bay Prepares for Makeover
The Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2011
San Francisco’s effort to transform an abandoned rail yard on its eastern shore in Mission Bay into an urban center is poised for a serious boost from plans by Salesforce.com Inc. to build a sprawling corporate campus in the area. Urban-planning experts say the arrival of Salesforce will provide a vital stimulus for a once-neglected part of the city. But the bold design for the campus is just beginning a monthslong approval process, and Chief Executive Marc Benioff is leaving open the possibility that the company could simply pick a different location for its new headquarters.

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Now more than ever, smart growth makes dollars and sense

Fountain streetscape silver spring, originally uploaded by faceless b and credited to EPA Smart Growth. Young professionals seek bustling career centers. Parents want their kids to have more options for biking and walking. Empty-nesters crave more nightlife options and more manageable homes. And seniors seek a level of independence that car-dependent communities cannot provide. For … Continued

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What do houses in distant suburbs and low-mileage cars have in common?

Unfortunately for the owners of either, they’re both losing value. That’s the connection — echoed by SGA — in a Wall Street Journal piece this morning on today’s front page by Ana Campoy on gasoline consumption and miles driven trending downwards, and how it’s beginning to drastically affect Americans’ housing and transportation choices: Meanwhile, people … Continued

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Stranded: Why don't we have better alternatives?

I’m back from a weeklong vacation, so you probably already saw Paul Krugman’s wonderful column in the New York Times last week that was subsequently posted and emailed all over the place, but it’s worth posting for posterity. In “Stranded in Suburbia,” Krugman muses on the differences in how high gas prices are devastating our … Continued

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