Posts

Smart Commuting at RideAmigos

At RideAmigos, we don’t just talk a good game when it comes to smart commuting. We follow through by utilizing a complete range of alternative transportation modes within our own company. As a national leader in the field of transportation demand management (TDM), we’re happy to encourage our staff members to bust stress, enjoy a better work-life balance, and help reduce pollution and traffic congestion through our fun and engaging commuter support programs.

With the help of our innovative tools and solutions, we’ve implemented  high-impact smart commuting programs in our workplace. In one ongoing initiative, we allow employees to earn points with every smart commute they log, with each point being redeemable for one entry into a monthly raffle. Then, at the end of the month, one lucky winner gets to go home with a $200 gift card.

This strategy works because it stays relevant all year long, encourages friendly competition, and rewards employees for choosing smart commuting strategies more often. The gift card prize is also a great example of an effective incentive, which TDM professionals the world over recognize as being one of the keys to getting people excited about taking part.

April '18 Mode BreakdownIn April 2018, our staff members logged a total of 295 smart trips. We make use of nearly every mode imaginable, from bike commuting to telework and transit, carpools and ride-hailing, walking, running, skateboarding, and e-scooters. If there’s a way to get to work, one of our employees has probably tried it!

Those impressive monthly numbers are backed up by some equally impressive general stats: more than half of our employees use alternatives to solo driving on more than 50% of work days, and 25% of our staff members never drive to work solo.

Smart commuting builds a healthier, happier workplace and a cleaner, greener, and more active community, all while helping your organization or business promote positive values that connect with people. We’d be happy to help your business or organization achieve the same level of success we enjoy with our commuter programs.  Get started today!

Health Benefits of Bike Commuting

Leaving your car at home is definitely good for your mind, but it’s even better for your body.

This past April, researchers published a new study in the British Medical Journal that’s attracted a lot of attention in the transportation demand management space. The study, which was carried out by scientists in the United Kingdom, compared the relative health benefits of four common modes of commuting: driving, public transportation, walking, and cycling. Their conclusion? Cycling is, by a significant margin, the healthiest option.

The study’s key finding is that when practiced on a daily basis, pedal power reduces an individual’s risk of dying, from any disease or cause, by an amazing 41 percent. Researchers expected that cycling would prove to be the healthiest mode of transportation, given that it is the highest-intensity commuting option included in the study. However, even these seasoned scientists were surprised to learn just how dramatically it can improve a person’s physical health.

This particular study followed over 263,000 participants between the ages of 40 and 69 over a five-year period. Its methodology included controls to correct for lifestyle factors, age disparities, socioeconomic imbalances, and other important variables. The study also included a mixed-mode option, in which active forms of commuting, such as cycling and walking, were combined with inactive transportation options, such as public transit and driving. The conclusive trend held up even in this regard, with study participants who included biking as part of a mixed-mode commuting strategy showing a 24 percent decrease in mortality risk.

So what makes biking so beneficial? Study participants who biked to work generally had longer distances to cover than those who walked, giving them a longer and more intensive regular workout.

If you’re looking to promote an alternative to solo driving, biking is a great place to start. In addition, studies have also shown that shared modes of transportation, such as carpooling and public transportation, are also associated with both mental and physical health benefits. There’s room for a complete range of options in any complete commuter management strategy.

Thinking of this from an employer’s perspective, it’s worth noting that encouraging people to commute by bike can also benefit an organization’s bottom line due to such health benefits. That means biking to work is a win-win for both commuters themselves and the companies they work for! Which is a great reason to promote cycling both during Bike to Work month and year-round.

5 Ways Bike Commuting Benefits Your Bottom Line

Bicycle commuting creates a positive impact on your organization

May is National Bike Month! In honor of the occasion, it’s time to highlight five often-overlooked ways that bicycle commuting delivers bottom-line benefits to businesses and organizations.

More bike commuters means less need for parking

Renting or building additional parking spaces to accommodate vehicles can be very costly. Many bicycles can fit in the space a car would normally occupy, and providing secure bicycle lock-ups and racks can be achieved for a small fraction of the cost of adding parking.

Cycling reduces stress

Research has shown that a single-occupancy vehicle is the most stressful way to get to and from work. Battling other drivers for space on congested highways and thoroughfares is never a great way to start the day.

Cycling, by comparison, is far less stressful. Studies indicate that those who choose smarter forms of transportation, including bicycles, improve their productivity in addition to reducing stress.

Bike commuters take fewer sick days

The British Medical Journal recently published a study showing that cycling is one of the healthiest ways to commute. It provides a great cardiovascular workout that helps support immune system function. Those who cycle to work are less likely to miss days due to illness, in large part because they tend to have better overall health than those who choose sedentary modes of transportation.

Cycling is a great team-building activity

A growing number of businesses are discovering the benefits of bikepools, in which more experienced riders team up with lesser experienced bike commuters to show them the ropes of urban cycling. Bikepools offer an organic, engaging way to promote camaraderie, collaboration, and friendship, all of which help create a more unified work environment.

It boosts organizational credibility

Eco-friendly values are proving to deliver major branding and image-boosting benefits for businesses. By promoting and encouraging bike-based commuting, businesses can build a better public image, attract higher-quality employees and do a better job of retaining talent.

Moreover, you’ll connect with a broader base of potential customers, as market research is showing that people are increasingly choosing products and services delivered by businesses that share their values.

To learn more about how your organization can benefit from a higher rate of bike commuting, and get proven tools for promoting cycling as an alternative to driving, let us know you’re ready to get started with RideAmigos!

4 Best Commuter Survey Questions

Make sure you ask these questions on your next commuter survey

From Corey Tucker, our Program Specialist:

Corey TuckerCommuter surveys are critical tools for generating insights and promoting initiatives that impact commuter behavior.

Running an introductory survey before starting any new program is a great way to establish a baseline for assessing transportation mode-shift. Periodic surveys are also helpful for gathering specific, reliable information that can inform targeted promotions and marketing campaigns.

No two organizations are alike, and predetermining your approach and trying to force it onto your commuter base isn’t likely to work. The data generated by your survey is critical to forming a cogent commuter management strategy that speaks to the needs of the people in your organization.

Good commuter survey questions help commuter services managers create targeted programs. They deliver critical insights that would not otherwise have been apparent, allowing program designers to zero in on strategies that will generate positive and impactful results while delivering tangible benefits to commuters.

With that in mind, here’s a look at my four favorite commuter survey questions, why they work, and when they should be used:

What has been your primary mode of commuting over the past year?
This is the single most important question to establish a baseline understanding of commuter behaviors. How else will you be able to track the impact your changes have made?

By understanding how the lion’s share of your commuters are getting to work, you can also pinpoint the alternative modes they are most likely to adopt. For example, let’s say you’ve got a lot of solo drivers in your organization. You might struggle to get them to give up the convenience of their personal vehicles to adopt a longer, more difficult journey on public transportation.

However, you might have more luck with an employee carpooling program that matches commuters who live close to one another. They can take turns sharing driving duties, enjoying all the benefits of point-to-point private transportation while still contributing to the program’s success.

How familiar are you with employee transportation benefits?
In some cases, businesses that offer transit subsidies, carpooler benefits, secure bike storage, locker rooms, and showers still see little in the way of change. The problem could be that your employees simply aren’t aware that you support alternative commuting modes. This is a great way to find out.

If you determine that a lack of employee awareness is holding back the success of your commuter management programs, make a simple investment in promoting them. Combined with other interventions, this simple change could drive significant shifts in commuter behavior.

What is the main factor in deciding how you’re going to get to work?
To maximize benefits, you have to fine-tune your programs and marketing efforts to make sure they speak to the needs of your employees. For example, if the length of the commute is the primary consideration for your commuters but you’ve built a program that advertises cost savings, you’re not reaching the most important point of appeal.

In our experience, the most successful programs are the ones that deliver the commuter-end benefits team members are looking for. Your commuter survey questions should take a razor-sharp focus in trying to find out what commuters want and need, then tailoring your programs to deliver it.

Would additional benefits or incentives make you more likely to try alternative modes of commuting?
Targeted incentive programming is more effective than broad-stroke programs, so take advantage of questions that reveal exactly what it will take to get commuters to change their habits.

Give people a wide range of options. Parking cash-out programs, points programs, and commuter challenges are all great starting points. For more ideas, check out the San Francisco Department of the Environment’s web portal on commuter benefits: they’ve assembled a strong collection of possibilities.

Commuter surveys are ideal if you’re planning to harness the power of the RideAmigos platform and our data analysis tools to enact positive changes in your organization, and they’re fully supported by our software.

Learn more about using surveys with RideAmigos

5 Best Benefits To Provide Commuters

Encourage employees to commute smarter by providing first-class benefits

Benefits and support programs are a great way to get employees and staff to ditch their single-occupancy vehicles and skip the solo drive. The best such programs all have one key thing in common: they remove the obstacles that prevent people from choosing alternative modes of transportation.

The RideAmigos team put our heads together and assembled this list of  five top-notch suggestions to help you create happier, healthier, more efficient commuters:

Guaranteed Rides Home

Some people balk at the idea of walking or biking to work because they’re worried about being stranded in the event of inclement weather. Guaranteed ride home programs provide a way around that problem. They ensure participants can get home safely and comfortably no matter what Mother Nature might throw their way.

Check out our blog post on guaranteed ride home programs for ideas and specifics.

Showers and storage

A lot of people don’t choose more active forms of transportation, like biking, because they don’t want to arrive at work hot and sweaty. Or they worry about where to keep their bicycle and personal items. Adding shower facilities, secure bike storage, and lockers for employee use is the perfect antidote.

Financial Incentives

Businesses and organizations can offer financial incentives to team members who make regular use of alternative transportation. Every time someone opts not to use a single-occupancy vehicle, they can rack up credits towards prizes like cash, gift cards, meals at local restaurants, event tickets, new bicycles … the possibilities are limited only by your imagination and budget!

Investments like this can also generate positive financial returns. A workforce that commutes by bike might qualify for lower health insurance premiums. Or, you could reduce your parking requirements. Which would, in turn, save money on leased lots. Or you could even generate additional revenue by renting out unused owned spaces to other tenants.

Free or Subsidized Transportation

Along the same lines, one of the leading reasons people stick with single-occupancy vehicles is that they’re worried about the costs of alternatives. Providing free or subsidized options can tip the scales and easily motivate change.

Try these ideas:

  • Provide free or subsidized public transit passes, tokens, or journey credits
  • Offer financial assistance for bike-share and car-share membership programs
  • Partner with ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft to offer door-to-door service from home to work

Benefits like these can be easily integrated alongside advanced trip tracking. Contact us to learn how.

Commute management software

Software like the RideAmigos platform puts powerful tools in the hands of commuters. Tools like comprehensive multi-modal trip planners, ridesharing, bikepooling, and automatic trip logging. We provide technological solutions that make it easy for employers to implement new benefits and easy for employees to make smarter transportation choices and skip the solo drive.

Sign up for our Commuter Tips email list for more smart commuting ideas and TDM strategies.

Financial Incentives for Alternative Commuting

People love the convenience and comfort of their solo-driven, single occupant vehicles. Convincing them that ridesharing, bicycling, public transit, or biking could be smarter choices is an uphill challenge.

Educational initiatives and awareness-raising campaigns are helpful, but often aren’t enough to convince commuters to try something different.

Often it’s necessary to use tangible incentives to get people to step outside of their comfort zones.

The EPA acknowledges the effectiveness of economic incentives when trying to change commuter behavior. Transit pass subsidies, vanpool provisions, alternative commute subsidies, and transportation allowances all have a proven track record. Therefore, organizations that want to establish smarter commuting patterns but aren’t using any sort of incentives program can stand to see a huge boost in participation and effectiveness by doing so.

As one way of giving back to the transportation demand management (TDM) industry and supporting our clients, RideAmigos is creating easy-to-follow TDM recipes for success. While these are best implemented using the powerful RideAmigos platform, the basic steps can easily be adapted to fit most any organization.

The following recipe is adapted from the “Smarter Commuting Financial Incentive Soufflé” recipe found on the RideAmigos Academy:

How to Create Financial Incentives for Alternative Commuting

1) Educate commuters about available options

What options are easily accessible to people in your company or area? Options like ridesharing, vanpools, public transit, bicycling and even walking are often available, but are sometimes not ideal options depending on context. Learn which options your audience is most likely to use, then begin with an educational campaign to make sure these options are widely known.

2a) Decide the parameters of your incentive

Typically incentives are given to users who complete a certain number or percentage of non-single-occupant-vehicle (non-SOV) commutes over a particular time period. Sometimes particular methods of transportation are highlighted, such as carpooling or biking. Financial incentives for meeting the designated criteria can take numerous forms. Some ideas include gift certificate for use at local shops or online, free transit passes, or even cash bonuses.

2b) Determine how you will  will track & distribute

Once you’ve selected the qualification criteria and reward for your incentive, you need to determine how to track user participation and incentive redemption. You could use an online spreadsheet or database, but the easiest solution is using specialized TDM software like RideAmigos. Using our built-in incentive management tools makes tracking participation and redemption simple.

3) Encourage people to sign up for the incentive, log their trips, and claim their prize

Now that your commuters know their options and you’ve set up your system, it’s time to get users to sign up. Ideally you can use the same marketing and communication methods you used in step 1 to spread the word about your program. Have users sign up and begin tracking their non-SOV commutes. Again, this is made easier by RideAmigos using our commuter dashboard and features like automatic commute logging. Once they’ve reached the goal they can request to redeem their reward.

4) Review the progress of the users who have claimed their incentive

Just because a user claims to have completed the necessary steps to receive your incentive doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve done so. Be sure you’ve included a method to double-check that they have complied with your program’s criteria! With RideAmigos it’s easy to confirm whether a user’s trips match your parameters.

5) After verifying the trips of users who have claimed their incentive, approve or deny their requests

You’ll need to have a plan for communicating whether incentive claims have been approved or denied. This is especially important if you need to explain why a request was denied. Clear communications of expectations is a key step to success.

6) Distribute your financial incentives to those who have been approved

Incentive distribution may involve electronic rewards, physical delivery, or even collaborating with your payroll department. Once participant’s claims are approved, set your system into motion to make sure they receive their rewards.

7) Evaluate, adapt, and repeat

Once you reach the end of your incentive period, evaluate your users’ levels of participation and completion. You might want to survey participants to get their feedback to improve future programs. Once you know what worked well and what didn’t you can make alternations to your program and prepare to run it again. Some organizations even choose to provide such smart-commuting incentives year-round!

Additional Resources:

Did you know? Employers can receive tax benefits for offering employees financial benefits that encourage commuting using alternative modes of transportation (PDF)

The Victoria Transport Policy Institute has an excellent and detailed write-up on commuter financial incentives.

Workplace Experience & Commuter Benefits

Changing the way businesses think about employee engagement

Companies that attract and retain the top available talent give themselves a major competitive advantage. Ensuring that employees are satisfied and happy not only in their work, but also in the general workplace environment is one of the keys to building the kind of reputation in-demand job candidates look for in a prospective employer.

Traditionally, such strategies were built around incentive and benefit programs. Health insurance, pension plan contributions, stock options, and other financial perks did the trick in years past, but nowadays, employees are looking for more. To meet the changing needs and preferences of workers in the contemporary environment, many companies are bringing in workplace experience managers.

The concept of workplace experience is a relatively new one. It goes beyond simple cash and benefits compensation, and instead focuses on projecting positive attitudes throughout the work environment by providing perks like health and wellness programs, company-sponsored social outings, free coffee bars, on-site massage therapy, and creativity-oriented lounge areas.

Building a positive workplace experience is about more than facilities; it’s about attitudes and values. For example, new research has proven that daytime naps help energize employees, increase mental engagement, and stimulate creative thinking. Progressive companies have responded by encouraging workers to take midday snoozes, and giving them comfortable places to grab a few winks. It’s a win-win situation, building trust and goodwill on the employee end and boosting productivity on the business end.

How transportation management strategies fit into the workplace experience movement

Providing employees with commuting alternatives is fast becoming a central tenet of today’s workplace experience programs. Studies have shown that solo commutes can be a major drain on morale, while researchers have also found links between shared transportation and higher levels of general life satisfaction. As such, a growing number of workplace experience managers are turning to options like ridesharing and carpooling programs and alternative transportation incentives to relieve some of the daily grind and help employees arrive at work refreshed, relaxed, and in a positive mindset.

To meet the growing demand for solutions to enhance workplace experience, software developers are building advanced commuter management platforms that help people make the most of group and shared transportation options. Going forward, technological solutions like the RideAmigos platform will increasingly become an integral part of a comprehensive workplace experience strategy built to attract and retain top employees.

Is your company helping your employees to have the most positive commutes possible?

Pages