Rep. Mike Sparks Talks About HOV Lane Violators

Williamson Source Article

Picture yourself driving down I-24. Have you ever seen a car being pulled over from the HOV lane? Neither have we and Representative Mike Sparks has something to say about that.

Carissa Biele took Sparks for a spin through Downtown Nashville to discuss his HOV lane passion, past writing endeavor, “How To Do More With Less During Tough Times,” and support for innovations like Hytch.

Sparks has taken quite an interest in the happenings of the HOV lane this year, estimating a violation rate upwards of 90%. These violators include his fellow Tennessee legislators that Sparks himself has passed on the commute to the Capital. He has gone on numerous campaigns to advocate the enforcement of HOV lane laws, even addressing the House floor. Nevertheless, few who hear his message actually act on their inspiration. Hytch listened and went directly to Sparks.

“Mark Cleveland and Hytch are the only lobbyists that approached me about something innovative that benefits the taxpayers, not costing the taxpayers. What I like about Hytch and what y’all are doing, you’re doing something that’s benefiting those who need some help.”

Rep. Sparks put his knowledge of these traffic laws to the test for a BeanBoozled challenge with Biele. Although he had to eat a few beans, Sparks discovered he couldn’t differentiate strawberry-banana from dead fish (clearly an unfair advantage).

Sparks believes that Hytch is a viable solution to the traffic crisis in Nashville. Next time you are driving to Nashville, remember to obey those HOV lane laws because Representative Sparks is on the move.

“Earth Overshoot Day?” What’s that?

Have you heard of ”Earth Overshoot Day?” No? You are not alone and that is a big problem.

“Earth Overshoot Day” is the date each year that the human population uses up more resources than nature can renew for that year. In 2017, our “Earth Overshoot Day” was August 2nd. This is the earliest day that this has ever occurred and it is devastating. But, you can get involved via the Global Footprint Network (GFN).

The GFN is making tremendous efforts to #MoveTheDate. They have created a footprint calculator so you can find out your own personal “Earth Overshoot Day.”

One way to reduce your ecological footprint is to use public transit or rideshare with apps like Hytch. Sharing your commute with others can take one more carbon-emitting car off the road. Do your part to help turn back the clock on “Earth Overshoot Day” and get to use the HOV lanes while you're doing it. The Global Footprint Network has also shared specific tips on how to reduce your carbon footprint in other ways.

"Earth Overshoot Day" personal calculator.

"Earth Overshoot Day" personal calculator.

Share your results with us and use the hashtag #MoveTheDate to encourage others to learn more about their own “Earth Overshoot Day.”

Nashville Technology Council CEO Brian Moyer on Who’s Innovating in Nashville

Nashville residents weren’t surprised to learn that the city created the seventh-most tech jobs in the country in 2017. “Since 2006, Nashville added jobs in nearly every tech industry we track,” noted Forbes, “led by 3,700 new jobs in systems design, 1,800 in data processing, and 1,100 in engineering services.” Those jobs have been a strong driver of economic growth, with the average Nashville tech worker earning 61 percent more than the average non-tech worker.  

As is often the case, though, with healthy economic growth comes an increase in traffic congestion, and perhaps not surprisingly, Nashville is looking to tech for solutions to its transit challenges. Some might be surprised to find out that “Metro [Nashville only] recently completed the synchronization of many of the traffic lights in the city area, to make driving more efficient by synchronizing the lights,” says Brian Moyer, President and CEO of the Nashville Technology Council.  

In other ways, Nashville is far ahead of the curve, says Moyer, highlighting “innovative, out-of-the-box apps like Hytch, all trying to take advantage of assets and resources that are being used but aren’t fully being used.”

Hytch, of course, is a forward-thinking app that matches friends, neighbors and co-workers, enabling them to share rides to and from work. Most notably, Hytch rewards users for sharing rides—with cash—helping to take cars off the road and reduce the city’s carbon footprint. “We’re going to be on the map for having been the first city in the world that networks and rewards people for sharing a ride,” emphasizes Mark A. Cleveland, the company’s co-founder and CEO.

In fact, many of the local tech companies and organizations that Moyer likes to discuss—such as Digital Reasoning (machine learning, artificial intelligence), Asurion (device insurance), Eventbrite (an event technology platform), the Center for Medical Interoperability, and Concert Genetics—are potential sponsors of Hytch. For instance, each could incentivize employees to share rides, thereby helping to address congestion issues and reduce employee stress levels.

It’s an exciting, easy way to reduce the amount of traffic on Nashville roads right now, as opposed to years or decades from now, by which time transportation may have changed in ways that commuters can’t even fathom today. “Self-driving cars and self-driving buses hold a lot of very exciting future value,” notes Moyer, while discussing how the Robo-car sector is projected to add $2 trillion to the U.S. economy by 2050.

In the meantime, sign up today to begin earning cash while reducing traffic. Or if you represent a company or government organization, learn more about how you can sponsor or support Hytch.



HOV lanes were instituted in the State of Tennessee in 1993 to promote ridesharing to reduce congestion on urban interstates. The central concept for HOV lanes is to move more people rather than more cars, which is a core argument for bus and other mass transit options too.  Per Tennessee Code 55-8-188, vehicles traveling in HOV lanes must carry the minimum number of people posted on the entrance signs. In Tennessee, that means at least two people. Exceptions include motorcycles and low emission vehicles with a Smart Pass sticker.  Table 1 shows all HOV lanes in Tennessee, which are located in the Nashville or Memphis metro areas.

For the purposes of this report, “Nashville” or the “Middle Tennessee Metro Area” generally refers to Davidson, Rutherford, Wilson and Williamson Counties where HOV lanes exist. The “Memphis Metro Area” covers the ten surrounding counties reaching, reaching to Arkansas, and Mississippi borders.  

Commuters in Nashville Metro

The Nashville Metro Area labor force is comprised of approximately 892,106 persons (according to the 2016 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).  Graph 1 from DATA USA below shows the largest share of Nashville Metro Area commuters drove alone (81.7%).

Carpoolers accounted for the next share at 9.8%, and public transit accounts for only 1.3%. Participation is 3x below the national average in comparable MSA.

Graph 2 from DATA USA shows that the Nashville Metro Area average commute is 25.7 minutes. The three highest shares are 15-19 minutes (14.3%), 20-24 minutes (15.5%), and 30-34 minutes (15.5%). 78.2% have a commute of over 15 minutes.

Commuters in Memphis Metro

The Memphis Metro Area labor force is comprised of approximately 628,500 employed persons. As Graph 3 shows below, commuters in the Memphis Metro Area who drove alone were the largest share at 84.9%. The next share is Carpoolers at 8.6%. Public transit accounted for 1%, which is 4.2% below the national average.

For commuters in the Memphis Metro Area, the average commute time is 24.9 minutes. The three highest shares are 15-19 minutes (16.1%), 20-24 minutes (18.1%), and 30-34 minutes (15.9%). 75.3% have a commute of over 15 minutes.

Some conclude from these and other studies that the Tennessee commuter “simply will not ride the bus” while others believe a bus ride that does not arrive any faster compared to driving alone, enjoys no competitive advantage.  

What if HOV lanes were clear, so bus departure frequency and service level can be increased?

Hytchin' on to Megan Barry's - Opportunity NOW

This past Thursday, Hytch partners attended the Nashville Technology Council's 8th Annual Award Show where Mayor Megan Barry spoke as the keynote speaker. Per usual our Mayor gave an engaging and inspiring speech, acknowledging all of the amazing accomplishments our businesses are achieving every day.

As she was closing she brought to our attention her campaign Opportunity NOW and how necessary it was that as business leaders of Nashville, we join in this endeavor. The private sector will be tasked with providing 7,500 of the 10,000 job goal. This initiative, which will be overseen together by the mayor’s office and Nashville Career Advance Center, is targeting young people between the ages of 14 and 24.

Hytch recognizes and values the need to provide opportunities for Nashville's young students eager to gain work experience. As Mayor Barry leads this campaign throughout the region Hytch is proud to announce that we have been pushing this initiative on our own by adding 12 full-time interns to our team over the past eight months!

We have been so delighted to have students from across middle Tennessee learn and grow under our watchful eye. The partnerships have formed with universities across Middle Tennessee have yielded intern representation from Vanderbilt University, Belmont University, Lipscomb University and MTSU.

Our intern supervisor, Christian Bruckman, had this to say, "After working closely with these students my confidence in our future generations has been strengthened. The level of professionalism as well as quality of work these young professionals delivered was top notch and it has been an honor to work with them."

Although our 12 interns positions are a very small portion of the 10,000 job goal, we pride ourselves on the quality and uniqueness our internship program provides for students. As we look to the future we are committed to continuing our addition to empowering our youth through opportunities that will allow them to be future leaders throughout Nashville and Middle Tennessee.

To find out how you or your business could be involved. The link below will also provide more information about Opportunity NOW click here for next steps.

#ReclaimTheLane | An Exposé into the H.O.V Lane

If you have any experience at all driving throughout Nashville you have seen our H.O.V (High Occupancy Vehicle) lanes. H.O.V lanes have been in use in the state of Tennessee since 1993. H.O.V lanes were instituted, "to promote ridesharing in order to reduce congestion on urban interstates. The central concept for H.O.V lanes is to move more people rather than more cars." as stated by the Tennessee Department of Transportation. 

H.O.V lanes serve as a great asset to our highway transportation system when properly utilized. Through implementing these lanes freeway efficiency increases, moving more people in fewer vehicles than that of neighboring lanes. H.O.V lanes provide reliability, helping express buses, carpools and vanpools stick to their schedules.

Not to mention that H.OV. users cite saving time & money, reduced stress, and convenience as the main reasons they use the H.O.V system. When there is an influx of vehicles on the freeway demand for lane space is going to shoot up, however, H.O.V lanes reduce competition for the limited space on the freeways during peak traffic hours.

Lastly, whenever the total number of car trips goes down, less of a burden is placed on the environment. The potential benefit these lanes can bring are incredible but are rendered useless when abused and unregulated.

I frequently travel on the interstate and have been subject to my fair share of rush hour standstills. In peak hours of the day, all interstate lanes are completely congested and the most troubling observation a traveler can make is that the H.OV. lane is piled up bumper to bumper with single occupancy vehicles.

Based on findings from the Federal-Aid Highway Program Guidance on High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Facilities, 90% of the time drivers in H.OV. lanes should be able to drive at least 45 mph during peak commute hours. This is rarely ever the case...

At Hytch, we recognize the true benefits that H.O.V lanes can bring to Nashville's transit and ecological environment. Through ridesharing opportunities that Hytch offers you have an obligation to #ReclaimTheLane that rightfully belongs to you!!

Now there are also issues to our current H.O.V system. Seldom will you ever come across someone who has been pulled over for violating the H.O.V lane. That is because enforcement of H.O.V is next to non-existent.

If for some off chance you were to be pulled over due to abusing the H.O.V lane then the only repercussions you would face is a $50 ticket, $10 court fee and NO points on your license.  In states like Arizona, tickets will start at roughly $350 and Georgia at $100 (with escalators) for the same violation. This simply HAS to change in order for Nashville to stand a chance at alleviating the congestion pains experienced throughout the region.

Hytch is working diligently with legislators in order to create a change and raise awareness surrounding this issue. Join us in our movement to #ReclaimTheLane by:

1. Voicing your concerns to your local representatives.

2. Download Hytch to promote ridesharing options.

3. When you see an H.O.V abusers flash a two-finger peace sign out the window to signify the H.O.V lane is meant for 2 people, not 1!

Hytch's Day-to-Day Interns

Leading up to the start of the Fall semester of 2016 we had a great influx of applications from a diverse handful of top universities throughout Nashville and middle TN region. After several weeks of narrowing down the top candidates, we arrive at a core team of five! Our Day-to-Day Interns saw the most action and were highly involved with our daily operations. The roster consisted of Nick (MTSU), Dustin (MTSU), Karan (MTSU), Cecil (Belmont) and Robert (Lipscomb). This core team of 5 played an integral role in the success Hytch saw throughout the Fall semester of 2016.

At the top of the agenda for our Day-to-Day crew was a research project around Tennessee’s HOV lanes and the enforcement surrounding those sections of the interstate.  From this research, our intern team discovered that Tennessee holds the loosest regulation around HOV. The lanes are very rarely patrolled and if by the slightest chance you are pulled over for violating the HOV lane, the only repercussions a driver will face is a $50 fine and no points on their record. Where in states like California HOV violations will cost you upwards of $300 and are heavily regulated.

Discovering this soft spot within Tennessee’s HOV policy showed us a great opportunity to bring to light a glaring issue that is not addressed would only continue to enable congestion increases habits like clogging the HOV lane.

Shifting back to our Day-to-Day crew the next significant undertaking the team would be in charge of would be Hytch’s first appearance in Williamson County Inc’s Mobility Week as well as the nation-wide event, ParkingDAY. We were tasked with transforming a normal parking space on Broadway into a micro park. Creating a space where pedestrians could take a load off and enjoy a greener twist to the usual concrete sidewalks. We loved being able to have fun and engage with locals and tourists enjoying Nashville as well as discuss Hytch’s mission and how we were working to make a difference in transit throughout the region. The day was long and hot and despite some sunburn, we all made it through the day and had a great time participating. There is no doubt that when ParkingDAY comes around again this year we’ll be locked and loaded with a bigger and even better parklet than this past years!

We were on the tail end of the semester and wrapping up the internship responsibilities required for our Day-to-Day team. The final big event was a mirror of our ParkingDAY endeavor sponsored by Walk Bike Nashville. This time around our team was set on streamlining the process. Include the essentials to draw attention to our stand without having to bog the team down with heavy furniture and other unnecessary items. Once again the team came through and pulled off a flawless event. The below shows a highlight reel of our day and the several different people we were able to have conversations with about Hytch and the change it intends to bring to Nashville as well as the Middle TN region.

Having these students as a part of the Hytch team during the Fall of 2016 was nothing short of exciting, challenging and beneficial. We even had the ability to bring on two interns to part-time paid positions as we move into the Spring semester of 2017. We are so thankful for all our our intern teams and affiliated classes that invested time in bettering Hytch and taking interest in Nashville and Middle TN’s transit issues, without out them much of what we accomplished this past semester would not be possible.

Hytch Fall 2016 Internship Program

Hytch recognized the necessity for a high level of community engagement and made the strategic decision to create alliances with institutions throughout the Nashville and Middle TN by recruiting young, bright and eager to learn students. Developing and executing this internship program would provide students to experience growing a business first hand as well as gain valuable exposure to functioning within a dynamic work environment. There were several applicants that we were tasked with sorting through in order to obtain the most cohesive group of talent possible. After all of the final interviews were completed, class projects established and game plans finalized we had secured a team of 8 students from Vanderbilt, MTSU, Belmont and Lipscomb University as well as class projects within Columbia State Community College and Volunteer State Community College to help grow Hytch throughout the Fall semester.

All that was left to do now, was to get to work!

Follow along as we break down the dynamics of our diverse internship program and all that was accomplished working with these amazing students.

Our internship program is continually growing and we are recruiting talent that wants to learn and grow while being a part of a unique opportunity that is transforming the transportation landscape of our region while simultaneously providing educational opportunities to students across Middle Tennessee. Send your resume and cover letter to to find out more.