Tag Archives: smartcommute

Try Transit Week is Coming

How are you getting to work next week?  Instead of clenching your fists behind the wheel, why not relax and let someone else do the driving.  Next week, September 19 – 23, 2011, is “Try Transit Week” and there are great opportunities to get out of your car and give the bus a try!

Here’s what GoTriangle has put together for next week:

  • Monday, September 19:  Explore the Region – Just purchase a regional day pass for a chance to win great prizes. A regional day pass works on Triangle Transit, CAT, C-Tran, DATA.
  • Tuesday, September 20: Rack and Ride Day – If you ride your bike to a stop, load your bike on the easy to use bike-rack and ride the bus for free!
  • Thursday, September 22: Fare-Free Day – All passengers will ride for FREE on World Car Free Day – now it’s even easier to give up your car for a day!
  • Friday, September 23: Operator Appreciation Day – Thank your bus operator(s).

And if you need help trying to determine your route, use GoTriangle’s handy Trip Planner to figure out the fastest and easiest way to commute by bus.

For more information on Try Transit Week, visit the GoTriangle website.  And for more information on alternative commuting in RTP, visit www.smartcommute.org.

Raleigh Leads the Charge for Electric Vehicles

PEV at a Downtown Raleigh charging station

This Wednesday at Marbles Museum in Downtown Raleigh, several RTP staff had the opportunity to attend Plugging In: Progress and Opportunities for Electric Vehicles. The forum, presented by The City of Raleigh, Progress Energy, and Advanced Energy, intended to raise awareness of opportunities and successes in electrified transportation technology.

As the event began, one thing that was quickly apparent was that Raleigh is in the cutting edge of the national rollout of plug-in vehicles. The forum was MC’ed by Paula Thomas, the City of Raleigh’s Sustainability Initiatives Manager, and featured remarks from Mayor Charles Meeker, Assistant City Manager Julian Prosser, and several other City staff. All expressed their eagerness to get Raleigh prepared for electric vehicles.

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Challenge, Commit, Change

The SmartCommute Challenge wrapped up on June 1st, and with 8,630 participants saving over 1 million commuter miles, Triangle residents that took the challenge can be proud to say they contributed to something wonderful.

Driving alone has high costs, both obvious and hidden. For the driver, there are the obvious costs of gas, auto maintenance and insurance, but also the hidden costs of stress and less exercise. For the community, there are the monetary costs of our roadway infrastructure, but also the costs of increased local air pollution, high CO2 emissions, and dependence on foreign oil.  For each one of us, driving alone every day can undermine our own quality of daily life. Added together, our driving habits threaten to decrease the Triangle’s quality of life. But there is a solution – Smart Commuting!

This year’s SmartCommute Challenge, coordinated by GoTriangle and SmartCommute@rtp, encouraged people to try a commute alternative —teleworking, carpooling, vanpooling, taking the bus, biking or walking— at least once between April 1 and June 1, 2011. The Challenge was open to employees and college students who live, work, or attend school in Durham, Orange, and Wake counties.  Participants were eligible to win prizes – this year, the SmartCommute Challenge is giving away over $10,000 in prizes! And once again, we made a big difference! When we followed up with participants after the Challenge ended, 96% reported following through on their pledges, and two-thirds of those were willing to continue SmartCommuting at least once a week! Thank you to all of the sponsors and participating employers who made the 2011 Challenge possible, and thanks to everyone who took the challenge this year!

Finally, here are some quick stats to show just how much of difference our SmartCommuters made.

  • Miles Saved: 1,132,054.8 – The equivalent of about 5 trips to the moon
  • Gallons of Gasoline Saved: 50,313.5 – Enough to fill 1,006 bathtubs
  • Pounds CO2 Saved: 1,006,271 – The weight of 335 female hippos
  • Pounds of nitrogen oxide air pollutants (NOX) saved: 2,768.6 – The average weight of 15 adult Americans
  • Pounds of volatile organic compounds (VOC) saved: 3,315.8 – The weight of 121 gold bars

Great job, Triangle!  We’ll be celebrating our success, recognizing our photo and video contest winners, and honoring some very special commuters at the Golden Modes on July 8thRSVP for the event here.

And remember, even though the SmartCommute Challenge is over, it’s never too late to try a smart commute.  RTP employees should visit www.SmartCommute.org for more information on ways to get started.

Dump the Pump on June 16th

This just in from GoTriangle! On June 16th all Triangle Transit regional, express, and shuttle routes and all DATA local routes will be free in recognition of National Dump the Pump day! In these tough economic times with high gas prices, everyone is looking for a way to save money. Dump the Pump Day encourages people to ride public transportation (instead of driving) and save money.

Riding public transit is the quickest way to beat high gas prices. The latest American Public Transit Association Transit Savings Report shows that a two person household that downsizes to one car can save – on the average – more than $10,000 a year! What’s not to love about that?

Take Triangle Transit and DATA to commute to and from work, to travel to school and the doctor’s office, to go shopping, and to visit with family and friends. Dump the pump on June 16th. Free your mind (and your wallet) and leave the driving to someone else!

Not sure the bus will work for you?  Use the Trip Planner to find your closest stops, routes and travel times.

Still not sure?  Consider doing it for a prize! Ride the bus, bike, walk, or run during Dump The Pump 2011 for a chance to win!

Check in at your bus stop or on the bike greenways on Foursquare during your commute. There are 20 stops that have this promotion. Check-in and unlock to see if you are the winner!

Contest starts at 6am on June 16. The first 20 people to check-in win a $25 Restaurant.com gift cards. There will be 20 winners per stop. And for more information on commuting options and subsidies in RTP, visit www.SmartCommute.org.

Let the Silence Roar!

May 16th through 20th is national Bike to Work Week, and on Wednesday, May 18th, cyclists from across the Triangle will convene in Research Triangle Park and participate in the world wide Ride of Silence to honor bicyclists who have been injured or killed by motorists, promote sharing the road, and provide awareness of bicycle safety.

Ride of Silence LogoThe Ride of Silence is a free ride that takes place annually around the world on the third Wednesday of May at 7:00 p.m.  The RTP Ride of Silence will start and end at the RTP Headquarters located at 12 Davis Drive.  The ride is 7 miles long and will have a police escort by Durham Reserve Police.  Headlights are suggested and helmets are required.  The ride will begin promptly at 7p.m. so riders are asked to be there early enough to air up their tires and participate in a memorial moment before riding out.  SmartCommute@rtp is proud to host this event and encourages riders of all ages and experience levels to join in on this impactful event.

For more information, visit www.rideofsilence.org or http://www.msfits.org/rideofsilence2011small.pdf.  And take look at look at this message from Chris Phelan, Ride of Silence founder.

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And for more information on Bike to Work Month events, including events in RTP, visit www.smartcommutechallenge.org/biketowork.php.

Try Two Wheels Instead of Four

May is National Bike month! There are events, celebrations and commuter activities throughout the Triangle in May, and especially during Bike-to-Work Week, May 16-20.  I certainly encourage people who’ve been putting off riding to work to take advantage of this month to really commit to trying it. There are a lot of great reasons to ride your bike to work: it’s an easy way to stay fit and healthy, it reduces stress, it’s one of the most environmentally-friendly forms of transportation, and it’s a great way to take the SmartCommute Challenge!

And if you’re still not sure about trying it, here are some quick tips that have been passed on to me from experienced cyclists on ways to make biking to work more feasible.

  • Keep at least one complete set of clothes at the office (including shoes).  That way, if you forget an essential item, you’ll know you’re covered… literally.
  • Keep a set of toiletries at the office, including soap, deodorant, towels, hair stuff, etc. so you don’t have to carry them back and forth each day.
  • Plan your route in advance.  If you’re unsure about a route, ask other cyclists if they can recommend one.  You can do this easily by joining the RTP Bike/Ped Listserv and just posting the question; many RTP cyclists are happy to offer suggestions.  GoTriangle also has several maps and guides that can help.
  • Check the weather each night so you know how to dress and if weather conditions might prevent you from riding safely.
  • Pack the night before so you’ll reduce stress in the morning. You’re also less likely to forget something if you aren’t rushing.
  • If your commuting distance is a little too far, consider a bus-bike combination. It’s easy with the region’s Bike on Buses program.
  • And don’t forget about the free Emergency Ride Home program in case a guaranteed ride (in a car) is needed because of unscheduled overtime, sickness, or family emergency.
  • Be sure to know the rules of the road so you can stay safe and enjoy two-wheeled transportation, regardless of where you’re going.

And if you have other tips of your own you’d like to share, please feel free to post them in the comments below. Visit GoTriangle for more cyclist resources.

Finally, don’t forget, SmartCommute@rtp will be hosting three events during Bike to Work Week for RTP employees and cyclists:

  • Tuesday, May 17, 5 – 7pm, BTWW After Hours Event, Serena, 5311 South Miami Blvd., Suite A, Cyclists enjoy free appetizers and drinks.
  • Wednesday, May 18, 7pm, Annual Ride of Silence sponsored by M.S. Fits (www.rideofsilence.org), Starting at RTP Headquarters, 12 Davis Dr.
  • Friday, May 20, 7 – 9am, BTWW Breakfast, RTP Headquarters, 12 Davis Dr., Cyclists enjoy a free continental breakfast, juice, water and coffee.

The SmartCommute Challenge in 30 Seconds

Now that May has arrived, we’ve officially passed the half-way mark for the SmartCommute Challenge.  There’s just under a month left for people to take the challenge, and even more importantly, to complete what they’ve pledged to do.

“What is the SmartCommute Challenge?” you ask.  Find out in just 30 seconds by watching the video below.  Then be sure to sign up today!

So far, 4,575 people have pledged to try a smarter commute just once before June 1, which will save 6,628 gallons of gasoline.  With a goal of 12,500 pledges, there is still a long way to go.  Be sure to sign up and complete the challenge – and win some great prizes.

Work In Your Pajamas

Imagine a work day with few interruptions, no pesky colleagues popping into your workspace, not having to listen to your coworker’s loud phone conversations, and being allowed to work in your pajamas.  Sound great to you?  That’s what teleworking is all about.

Technology makes working from home easy!

And, it’s one of the many ways that you can take the SmartCommute Challenge.  Teleworking is one of the most desirable alternative commute options in the Triangle. Telework refers to work that is done from a location other than the usual place of business, for example at home, at a satellite office or at a telework center. The broadest definition of the word used today is when an employee uses telecommunications and computer technology to give them the freedom to work at any time from any location. Employees can telework part-time, full-time or just occasionally.

According to Wikipedia, “For individuals, telecommuting, or more specifically, work from home arrangements, improves work-life balance, reduces their carbon footprint and fuel usage, frees up the equivalent of 15 to 25 workdays a year—time they would have otherwise spent commuting, and saves between $4,000 and $21,000 per year in travel and work-related costs (not including daycare). When gas prices average $3.00 per gallon, the average full-time employee who commutes 5 days per week spends $138.80 per month on gasoline. If 53% of white-collar employees could telework 2 days a week, they could collectively save 9.7 billion gallons of gas and $38.2 billion a year.

More and more, companies have begun to realize that telework and telecommuting is good business at least in part because it’s good for the environment, and because teleworking options improve work-life balance, productivity and morale, and reduces stress and costs. With the ubiquity of laptop computers, wireless internet and smart phones, teleworking has never been simpler.  Many RTP companies have official telework policies for their employees.  If your company doesn’t have a telework policy, talk with HR to get one put in place!

If you are a current teleworker or are just thinking about starting to telework, visit GoTriangle for more resources, and be sure the take the SmartCommute Challenge for your chance to win some great prizes!

Join the Pool Party – Carpooling and Vanpooling with the SmartCommute Challenge

We’re into the second full week of the SmartCommute Challenge and the opportunities for saving money, gas, and improving air quality abound.  Ridesharing is popular choice for people who take the pledge to try an alternative form of transportation other than driving alone.

Proud Carpoolers

The most common type of ridesharing is carpooling.  Carpooling is an easy to way to meet the SmartCommute Challenge head on.  And GoTriangle makes it even easier.  If you aren’t already aware of someone you can carpool with, join GoTriangle’s free online ride-matching service – sharetheridenc.org.  Then, just contact your matches to find your preferred carpool partners.  And remember, the more people that use the matching service, the more opportunities there are to carpool. Get more information on carpooling at www.SmartCommute.org.

The other ridesharing option is vanpooling.  Vanpooling is slightly different from carpooling in that vanpools consist of seven or more commuters who live and work near each other and who share approximately the same work hours.  Triangle Transit provides the van, pays for gas and insurance and arranges, oversees and pays for all maintenance.

Here’s how it works:

One of the benefits of vanpooling is the opportunity to catch up on sleep!

  • Meet others at a central location near your home.
  • Read, sleep, listen to music or talk on your way to work.
  • Get dropped off at your workplace or get preferred parking.
  • Leave at your scheduled time, without being stuck at the office.
  • Arrive at home safe and sound, well-rested and ready for your evening.

Get more information on vanpooling at www.SmartCommute.org.

And what happens if an emergency should arise?  Don’t worry!  If you carpool or vanpool (or any other SmartCommute for that matter), you simply need to sign up for the free Emergency Ride Home program so you can get a taxicab or a rental car ride home in case of an unexpected event.

Take the SmartCommute Challenge today if you haven’t already (and don’t forget about all the great prizes you could win if you do.)

Breathe Easy with the SmartCommute Challenge

RTP Headquarters played host to the 2011 SmartCommute Challenge kickoff on Aprils Fool’s Day, but there was no joke about the importance of changing commuting habits.  The 2011 SmartCommute Challenge, presented by GoTriangle and SmartCommute@rtp, is an annual non-profit public service campaign aimed at reducing traffic congestion and improving air quality in the Triangle.  The SmartCommute Challenge encourages commuters who work or live in Durham, Orange or Wake counties to pledge to ride the bus, carpool, join a vanpool, telework, bike or walk to work at least once between April 1 and June 1.

Attendees Taking the SmartCommute Challenge

With over 125 attendees, the kickoff event featured two keynote speakers.  Kevin Foy, former mayor of Chapel Hill and a law professor at North Carolina Central University focused on the ever increasing need for public transportation in the area; Joshua Cohen with TransLōc premiered some new technology coming to the Triangle later this year to help those who drive alone to shift to a smarter travel mode.  This technology will be delivering real time transit information to commuters, something that really hasn’t been done before.  This will make it easier for potential riders to consider transit.  And interested developers will be able to access the open data source to create their own applications to serve their own personal needs or the needs of a population segment (such as employer).

Did you know that, according to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), individuals save an average of $9,904 annually and $825 per month by riding public transportation?  Imagine what you could do with that extra money, nearly $10,000!  That could be the down payment on a house or cover the cost of a fantastic cruise or European vacation.  If you invested the money for 30 years, earning a modest 8% return, you would amass $1.2 million.  And if that isn’t incentive enough to try alternative commute, people who take the challenge are eligible to win some great prizes, including $750, laptops, gift cards, e-readers, and more.

During the event on Friday, 50 people pledged to try a smarter commute before June 1st.  The Challenge is hoping to receive at least 12,500 pledges throughout the campaign, which would save 18,000 gallons of gas if each person that pledges alternately commutes just once! I’m going to try carpooling, running to work, and teleworking.  What will you pledge to do?  Take the challenge at www.smartcommutechallenge.org

We spoke with Scott Carter from IBM at the kickoff.  Find out why he chooses to ride his bike to work!  Maybe you’ll be inspired.