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'Slug drivers' being ticketed in D.C.

D.C. police have been hitting "slug drivers" with $100 tickets this week in a crackdown that is angering drivers who say the practice helps reduce congestion and saves energy, according to an ABC 7 report.

"Slugging," the practice of forming spontaneous carpools to take advantage of HOV lanes, has a history in the D.C. area that dates back to the 1970s.

D.C. police have been targeting a pickup spot at 14th Street and Independence Avenue in Southwest Washington because it is a no-stopping zone, a WTOP report said.

Connie Hellmer told ABC 7 she got a ticket Monday at the 14th Street location, a pickup spot she has used daily since 1990. She said she didn't know it was illegal, the report said.

Related:
A primer on rules and lingo of slugging
See the ABC 7 report


-- Mike McPhate

Do you use the slug lines? Post a comment below.


By Michael Bolden  | June 17, 2010; 11:20 AM ET
Categories:  Commuting, Transportation Politics  
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Comments

Shameful, police ticketing drivers who stop in no stopping zones? Aren't there still doughnuts out there to eat?

Posted by: seraphina21 | June 17, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

This is LOL funny. So this is how DC encourages people to carpool to save gas? And today's "Dump the Pump" Day! That is just SO DC (i.e., stupid).

Posted by: WashingtonDame | June 17, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

DC will ticket any and everyone just to make up for the budget lapse.

I own a home in dc of which I have no driveway. My friend came over twice in one week and got a 100 ticket - on the grounds that her out-of-state (maryland) tags haven't been registered in dc...

Long story short, we found that if you plan to have someone visit you more than one day per every six months, you'll need a temporary pass from the city if they have non-dc tags...

Posted by: missboo | June 17, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Slugging has real benefits, but the slugging community has to respect the other drivers on the road, too. I'll cite the slug line on 14th just south of Constitution because it's the one I've stopped at a few times to pick up slugs. During rush hour, the right lane there is a thru lane with parking banned. That means it is not OK to sit idling in that lane with your hazard flashers on waiting for slugs to show up. If you get there and there are no slugs, or (more likely) if there are no slugs going to your destination, it is NOT OK to wait for some to show up--you need to move on and either drive around the block (easy to do, just make four right turns) or go on to the Pentagon slug lines. But I've seen drivers sitting there waiting any number of times. The police are right to ticket people who do that. It's unacceptable to think you have the right to take away a lane of traffic.

I am not familiar with the 14th and Independence slug line because people going to the Bob's line in Springfield (the one closest to where I live) don't use that line. It seems to me that if there's a sign saying "No Stopping," then you stop at your own risk, even if it's customary to do so. With all due respect to Ms. Hellmer, who is mentioned in the blog entry, if she's been stopping there for 20 years and never noticed a "No Stopping" sign she probably needs to get her eyes checked.

With that said, though, the 14th and Independence line is at a spot where the right lane is wider than it is further back at 14th and Constitution, so perhaps the "No Stopping" restriction ought to be revised. A better idea might be to move the slug line to Jefferson Drive between 14th and 15th. There's a Tourmobile sort of lane that's almost always vacant. It's illegal to turn left from Independence onto Virginia-bound 14th Street anyway, so it seems to me that there would be no real inconvenience to anyone from moving it there (except on rainy days, as the location is more exposed to the elements).

Posted by: 1995hoo | June 17, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

DC will ticket any and everyone just to make up for the budget lapse.

I own a home in dc of which I have no driveway. My friend came over twice in one week and got a 100 ticket - on the grounds that her out-of-state (maryland) tags haven't been registered in dc...

Long story short, we found that if you plan to have someone visit you more than one day per every six months, you'll need a temporary pass from the city if they have non-dc tags...

Posted by: missboo | June 17, 2010 12:27 PM

****************************************

For shame, for shame!

Don't you know you aren't allowed to have friends outside of D.C.?!?! That's one of Mayor Fenty's latest Draconian/authoritarian directives!

Posted by: TheChampishere | June 17, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

To TheChampishere and missboo:

If you live in Ward 1, 4, or 6 then DDOT has issued you a Visitor parking pass. They mail them yearly.

It is common practice to ticket for expired out-of-state registration. Every state where I have lived will do this. It's also probable cause for stopping a vehicle.

Stop blaming Fenty for everything you don't like about the District. This ticketing of the slug drivers is stupid, and (ironically) being done on dump the pump day.

Posted by: bikes-everywhere | June 17, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

I'm not familiar with slug lines and how they work. But it sounds like drivers are stopping in a "No Stopping" zone, and that this is not an official DDOT sanctioned slug line.

If you do that, no matter how many times you've done it and gotten away with it before, you open yourself up to the possibility of getting a ticket. I hear drivers complaining bitterly all the time about people who park in rush hour lanes (which are also posted "No Stopping"), especially tourists along Constitution Ave and tour buses along Henry Bacon Drive. The slug drivers are no different if they are stopping in what is supposed to be a rush hour lane. The tour buses on Henry Bacon Drive are helping the environment and reducing congestion too, by packing 50+ tourists into one vehicle, so if we agree that they shouldn't load and unload there during rush hour, neither should the slugs.

Now that being said, perhaps DDOT should consider removing the restriction and making an official "carpool staging area", aka slug line, or relocating it, per 1995hoo's suggestion. That would end any questions over the legality of stopping.

But I agree that DDOT goes a little overboard with their ticketing. I just got a bogus $50 parking ticket for not displaying a front license plate...when I very clearly had a front license plate right under where the ticket was placed (somehow they were able to get the right license plate number onto the ticket)! Sad thing is, its probably much easier for me to pay the ticket than to waste time trying to fight it.

Posted by: thetan | June 17, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Could they also ticket delivery trucks in traffic lanes? A convenience store's beer delivery is not worth creating gridlock.

Posted by: seraphina21 | June 17, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Regarding DC ticketing for expired out-of-state registration, when I was in high school (W.T. Woodson in Fairfax) I knew someone who went into DC and got a ticket for "improper display of a license plate." What did he do wrong? Well, you know the "month" and "year" expiry stickers Virginia sends you? The "month" is supposed to go on the left and the "year" on the right. He had them reversed.

(Now, I must concede that I don't understand why anybody gets the sticker placement wrong. The plates are clearly marked. But it's a stupid thing for DC to be ticketing.)

Posted by: 1995hoo | June 17, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

bikes-everywhere: I don't know about Wards 1 or 4, but Ward 6 only provides those visitor passes to a few blocks, not the entire ward. And then, of course, there are the other wards, which means you bringing it up was kind of pointless since missboo didn't say which ward she lived in.

Also, missboo never said her friends tags were expired, only out of state, so you're pulling that out of nowhere.

If you're going to slam someone, please do it with applicable and correct information.

Posted by: tspack | June 17, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

bikes-everywhere - Unfortunately I do not live in one of those wards, i'm in ward 5. Why aren't all wards allowed the temporary parking pass (I think i'm jealous)?

I disliked a lot of things about the city prior to fenty, but my list has almost doubled since he got in office.

In regards to this article - I would agree that no one should be stopping in a no parking zone, I dont deny that. But allow my friends/family to come by without having DDOT tag-stalking them.

lol@TheChampishere - I don't think I have to worry, as my friends HATE driving into the city anyway. I cant say I blame them one bit, as I do too.

Posted by: missboo | June 17, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

What about the delivery trucks that block lanes on commute routes? They block posted no-parking zones for 10-15 minutes at a time. Also how about the Maryland commuter buses that stop at points they seem to have designated, but none appear to be marked with a bus stop sign.
How about enforcing no U-turns and other basic traffic rules. The DC police are a bunch of idiots.

Posted by: blankspace | June 17, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Thanks tspack - you're right on point!

Posted by: missboo | June 17, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

"What about the delivery trucks that block lanes on commute routes? They block posted no-parking zones for 10-15 minutes at a time"

Right on Blankspace. I see double parked delivery trucks all the time on 12th Street and other "rush hour lanes".

Thetan - Blankspace makes a good point. The city has no problem going after VA commuters. Probably because we don't pay them a commuter tax. But it looks the other way when deliveries are made to a business that pays property tax. But the delivery trucks are blocking traffic the same way.

Dr. Gridlock, how about doing a piece on this? If you want, I will take the pics to prove the point. Show us that this column is more than just improving the ride on Metro.

Posted by: Dadat39 | June 17, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

There is no such thing as an "official DDOT sanctioned slug line." The entire concept of slugging is that it has nothing to do with government telling people what to do. Private citizens interacting with other private citizens to create an impromptu, free, and zero bureaucracy system for reducing commute times and traffic congestion. If the D.C. government had anything to do with slugging they would surely destroy it in a matter of weeks!
----------------------------
thetan: I'm not familiar with slug lines and how they work. But it sounds like drivers are stopping in a "No Stopping" zone, and that this is not an official DDOT sanctioned slug line.

Posted by: buffysummers | June 17, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Did not Senator Webb of VA complain about the congestion? O he meant ticket other people not the people from VA.

Posted by: alterego3 | June 17, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Finally....

DC Police doing their job.

I deal with bottlenecks at that particular slug location every day.... in contrast to the claimed savings of slug lines, this spot in a "NO STOPPING" zone causes delays, confusion, accidents and near accidents as vehicles with the right of way in a travel lane get blocked & backed up towards and into the intersection, etc.

ENOUGH... if DC wants to support slug lines, then create slug line staging areas that are NOT in open rush hour travel lanes, not where people will pull up 3-4 in a row in a working travel lane, park, and leave their flashers on for several minutes while they wait for their slug passengers.

They can't give enough tickets at such places IMO.

Posted by: fendertweed | June 17, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

I agree with the comments about delivery trucks that block lanes with no regard for the rest of us. The trucks not only block lanes of traffic they are a safety hazard as neither driver or pedestrians can see around them. wish the DC police wold get busy and ticket them!!

Posted by: lsf07 | June 17, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

I was driving by when one of these tickets was being issued. No question the driver was very displeased. But as a veteran of 14th Street's Rush Hour Hell, I think it was long overdue. No doubt slugging saves all kinds of energy, congestion, etc. but it also creates and/or worsens a very bad bottleneck (or two or three). No stopping or standing means exactly that!

I also concur with the Enforce the No Double Parking Laws crowd re delivery trucks. There has been a Postal Service truck at I St and 14th NW for at least three years every evening, forcing drivers to swerve out of the leftmost lane and then back in order to make a left turn onto 14th. It is infuriating, to say the least. Only a little less annoying than the 5 or 6 people who double park there EVERY weekday to pick up someone from the building after work. You know who you are! Grrrr...

Posted by: g1956 | June 17, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

buffy...VDOT sanctions slug lines. I've seen official VDOT signs stating "Carpool Staging Area" on I-395 at the Pentagon. And they clearly built many of their commuter lots with this intention. Perhaps they don't advertise and set the rules, but they absolutely encourage and endorse the concept, because it benefits everyone.

I'm not saying DDOT needs to set up rules or a bureaucracy, but they should set up designated zones where this can legally occur, precicely to avoid people doing it illegally, which is what they seem to be doing now by doing it on 14th Street.

And I've seen delivery trucks get tickets. Most of them just pay it as part of the "cost of doing business" though.

Posted by: thetan | June 17, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Yes, VDOT does accomodate sluggers. Many sluggers get picked up in the morning at VDOT built commuter lots in Woodbridge that were intended for the Omniride buses. But VDOT didn't create slugging and doesn't really even encourage it. D.C.'s power hungry bureaucracy couldn't possibly take the hands off approach found in Virigina.

Posted by: buffysummers | June 17, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

I find it quite odd that VDOT has a webpage about it if they "don't encourage it".

http://www.virginiadot.org/travel/how-virginians-slug-more.asp

Why would they not encourage it? It helps them make HOV successful.

Posted by: thetan | June 17, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

They don't "officially encourage it" because of liability issues, which has always struck me as odd because sovereign immunity is a huge part of Virginia law.

Posted by: 1995hoo | June 17, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

"Dr. Gridlock, how about doing a piece on this? If you want, I will take the pics to prove the point. Show us that this column is more than just improving the ride on Metro."

Also show us that the Transportation writers can do more than just accept spokespersons' (Metro, DDOT, VRE, MPD, MARC, etc.) statements and "explanations" without asking questions.

Posted by: ceebee2 | June 17, 2010 7:17 PM | Report abuse

I don't understand all these comments about slugging saving gas. Usually if the sluggers don't get picked up, they don't drive their own car, they take the bus or metro. You're cutting down on crowding on public transportation, sure. But stop assuming you're taking a car off the road. You're not.

Posted by: Biowap38 | June 18, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

If the police really want to do something about the flow of traffic, how about not allowing parking 14th St at any time. In the event of another catrastrophe, we would all be in gridlock worse than 911. Why was parking ever allowed? And to top it off, many of the cars parked are doing so illegally after 4:30. Slugs move traffic in and out of the City very efficiently and for the most part, aren't sitting very long for riders.

Posted by: forhim | June 18, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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