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McDonnell: “Looking At” Hybrid HOV Exemption

On WTOP’s Ask the Governor program this morning, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell was asked about the state law that allows vehicles with clean fuel license plates (like hybrids) to travel on HOV lanes without occupancy restrictions.

“Is there any point at which that will formally and permanently be canceled?” a caller asked the governor, adding that single-occupant hybrids “clog up” the HOV lanes during rush hour.

McDonnell, who signed a one-year extension of the law in March, noted that the law was “put in place in previous administrations… to create an incentive for using fuel-efficient cars.”

McDonnell said the exemption, which expires on June 30, 2011, will be examined as part of his administration’s transportation effort.

“The overall idea behind these… high occupancy lanes is to reduce congestion, and one person in a car doesn’t do that,” McDonnell said. “It’s part of one of the overall things that we’re looking at in the Department of Transportation in order to get people moving faster. Being able to have more people in one vehicle, or in rail or other modalities, is part of the solution.”

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Car-Free Diet Skeptics Challenge Returns For Second Year

A county-sponsored contest designed to help ween residents out of their cars and onto bikes and transit will return for an encore in 2011.

The Car-Free Diet Skeptics Challenge will begin accepting video applications on Jan. 3. The contest, organized by Arlington County Commuter Services, is seeking two drivers who are skeptical about ditching their cars but willing to try it out for 30 days.

Applications will be accepted from Jan. 3 to Feb. 28. In addition to submitting a 30 second to two minute YouTube video, would-be skeptics will be asked to fill out an application, provide photos, and answer questions about why they think they’re the county’s biggest car-free skeptic.

The contestants will be chosen in March by a combination of online voting and scoring by a panel of judges.

Each contestant selected this year will receive a new bike and accessories, hats and t-shirts, maps and transit schedules, a pre-loaded SmarTrip card, a one month membership to Capital Bikeshare and a Flip video camera. The “winner” selected at the end of the contest will get 12 months worth of free transit, a gift certificate to a running store, a one-year membership to Capital Bikeshare and a one year Zipcar membership.

Last year’s contest followed Ross and Todd (pictured), who tracked their car-free progress on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, as well as on their own personal blogs.

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Arlington to Launch “Green Games” Competition

Arlington County is launching a friendly competition that will encourage commercial building owners and office tenants to reduce energy usage and increase efficiency.

The “Arlington Green Games” will begin next Tuesday (Oct. 19) with an opening ceremony in Rosslyn, complete with booths that will instruct competitors on ways to reduce energy consumption and cut down on emissions. The event will start at 11:00 a.m. on the 30th floor of 1000 Wilson Blvd.

The competition is being organized by Arlington’s Fresh AIRE program, which seeks to reduce carbon emissions in the county. Competitors will first benchmark their “current energy and sustainability practices,” then work to improve performance in those area.

The county has also launched a web site for the Green Games, featuring a registration form for building owners and office managers.

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