When people ask why I ride to work every day, one of my first replies is the carpool lane. We had carpool lanes on the bridges with free toll hours way back in the ‘70s. The motivation in Sacramento was to reduce the number of cars on the highway by encouraging us to commute with a friend. Or, better yet, commute on your motorcycle! From the beginning motorcycles were legal in the carpool lane.
Later, as they quit building new roads, they added carpool lanes to some of the highways as a cheap fix. Life was great for those of us who opted to use the lane as traffic usually flowed much faster. Bummer for those who chose not to use the lane as traffic frequently came to a stop in the other lanes.
Time moved along and the brains in Sacramento decided to allow people with a Prius to share our lanes. The story was now to encourage the use of higher-mileage vehicles. There was no other reason stated even though Toyota gave the state a bargain price and they bought more than 100,000 Prius for government employees. So what if the HOV lane was now bastardized? We could still ride.
What’s the point? Well, after all these years we still can ride and mostly the carpool lane still flows nicely and the other lanes are even more crowded. The bridge is no longer toll-free, but we do get a discount if we have FasTrak.
Riding to work isn’t nearly as much fun as a scenic highway. But riding peacefully away from much of the traffic helps a lot. And, we are still riding. We can see all around. We can feel our machines under our butts. We can get to work and have a little time to enjoy ourselves while the other guys get to the same job and can only complain about how much time their commute takes.
I ride to work all year. A lot of us only ride on nicer days and now that spring is here I do see a lot more two wheel commuters. And I still wonder why everyone doesn’t ride. The motorcycle is fun all by itself and our government encourages everyone to join us.