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Real Commuter Gamification in the Tour de Redmond

Washington state’s Greater Redmond Transportation Management Association (GRTMA) has been running an annual bike-focused commuter challenge since 2006. The challenge, cleverly called the “Tour de Redmond“, is designed to recognize commuters who regularly bike to work, and to introduce drivers to cycling with the hope of inspiring long-term behavior change. RideAmigos first supported the Tour de Redmond in 2012, when the organizers used our cloud-based platform to manage registration and run the challenge. We can’t think of a better way to start and end a summer workday than biking through beautiful Redmond, Washington. We’re proud to be powering the Tour de Redmond again this year as an official sponsor of the event.

RideAmigos facilitated the program’s successful transition to a true gamification-based commuter engagement strategy. Participants can view their rankings on a live leaderboard and instantly compare themselves and their team to other riders. The commuter challenge features make it easy for riders to track their progress toward the program’s prizes, all while engaging their competitive spirits.

For program organizers, a commuter management platform makes it easy to generate reports, maps, and visualizations. These features give GRTMA officials useful and actionable insights into commuter behaviors during the challenge, allowing them to make ongoing evaluations about the city’s cycling infrastructure while continuing to find new ways to encourage community members to adopt cycling as a long-term commuting solution.

After the first year of working with RideAmigos, GRTMA organizers called it the “smoothest we have ever had in the seven-year history of the competition.” They were also happy to report that using RideAmigos cloud-based platform “saved us as much as a hundred labor hours.”

The commuters in Redmond also posted some impressive results that year:

  • 583 active riders across 64 teams
  • Over 90,000 miles biked
  • Over 54 million calories burned
  • $17,000 of gas money saved
  • 45 tons of greenhouse gas emissions avoided

The Tour de Redmond has continued to build on that success. The 2018 challenge just kicked off at the beginning of June and RideAmigos is proud to be a part of it again this year. We’re looking forward to seeing this year’s results!

If you’d like to learn more about what our platform and programs can do for you, or if you are looking for advice on jump-starting your own commuter challenges, get started here.

Challenge Your Employees for Bike Month 2018

National Bike Month, an annual tradition since 1956, is coming up in May. Sponsored nationally by the League of American Bicyclists, the National Bike Month event is designed to promote the many health and environmental benefits of cycling.

Each year, employers play a major role in National Bike Month’s success. Thousands of employers across the country hold friendly competitions and challenges designed to get their commuters actively participating. If you’re thinking of hosting a National Bike Month commuting challenge this year, we have a few tips that can help you encourage more robust participation rates.

Create Team-Based Competitions with Attractive Prizes

This go-to strategy is a surefire way to get the whole company engaged. Divide your commuter base up into teams, in whatever way works. For example, you could draw names at random, allow teams to self-select, or have teams for each department (accounting, human resources, etc.). Then, track team-based standings based on the number of bike commutes logged, or the number of miles biked, or both! Offer a prize to the team that wins the competition at the end of the month — something that will motivate people to keep taking part.

Add Smaller Weekly Prizes for Ongoing Engagement

It can be tough to keep people engaged if one team pulls way ahead in the standings, or if luck of the draw leaves another team with little hope of winning the month-long challenge. To encourage continued participation, offer smaller weekly prizes to teams or individuals that log the most trips or miles in each given week.

Run Raffles to Encourage Everyone

A similar strategy that also works well is to run a raffle draw for smaller prizes, giving participants one entry per logged bike commute. The drawings can be held weekly, giving everyone an incentive to participate at least a little bit. Of course, this strategy also rewards those who cycle frequently with more chances to win the draw, which is also a great motivator.

As always, the RideAmigos team is here to help with tools and tips to increase the reach and impact of your commuter programs, during National Bike Month and throughout the year. Please get in touch if we can help.

 

Partner Highlight: Ready, Set, Go-Tober

RideAmigos is proud to power Denver’s third annual Go-Tober Challenge program

The “Go-Tober Challenge” has taken the Denver metro area by storm for the third straight year. This popular program encourages commuters to ditch solo driving for at least one week during the month of October, and explore alternatives like carpooling, public transit, vanpooling, biking, walking, or teleworking.

Like all good challenge programs, Denver’s Go-Tober Challenge gives participants the chance to earn prizes in addition to bragging rights. According to Steve Erickson, the marketing and communications director for the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG), “Go-Tober brings friendly competition into what’s truly a collaborative effort of reducing traffic congestion and emissions one commuter at a time. We all play a part in making our region a great place to live. It’s a win for everyone.”

During Go-Tober, Denver-area businesses can compete against one another to see which company can log the most commutes and the most miles using modes of transportation other than single-occupancy vehicles. The objective is to raise awareness about the environmental impacts of solo driving, promote alternatives, and empowering commuters to try new ways of getting around in the hopes of creating long-term behavior change.

The Go-Tober initiative is run by Way to Go, a partnership between DRCOG and seven local transportation management associations (TMAs). Employees that work for companies participating in the program must register at WayToGoTober.org, and log at least four round-trip commutes using smart alternatives over the course of the month. Companies earn valuable points for every one-way trip logged on the site, with the winners and leaders qualifying for prizes.

With powerful trip logging, route planning, incentive distribution, and transportation gamification features, RideAmigos is proud to be the software platform of choice for Go-Tober. We’re pleased to be a part of this popular and high-impact initiative that’s going a long way toward making Denver a better place to work and live.

Bike Month Collaboration in the RideAmigos Academy

Be inspired by bike month collaboration success stories

May is National Bike Month, and RideAmigos is marking the occasion by promoting bike month collaboration efforts with our partner organizations. Together, we have helped create successful and innovative programs that we hope will inspire others to join in the fun.

National Bike Month Case Study: San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara County

SLOCOG / SBCAG Logos

Our National Bike Month collaboration case study comes from California, where the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments and the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments teamed up to launch an “All Star Challenge” in 2017.

The challenge centers on a friendly competition between neighboring companies and organizations, who are facing off to see which team can log the most bike commutes during National Bike Month. The competition includes:

  • Cal Poly State University vs. UC Santa Barbara
  • MINDBODY vs. Yardi Systems
  • California DOT (District 5) vs. RightScale
  • SRAM vs. Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition

Unlike other challenges that simply count trips or miles, this challenge pits teams from organizations of similar sizes head-to-head to see which can motivate the highest percentage of employees to swap their cars for pedal power. (Learn more at the Rideshare.org All Star Challenge site.)

Both government councils use the RideAmigos transportation demand management platform to help shift commuter behavior . The platform has proven to be an essential tool during the development and launch of the 2017 All Stars Challenge. Its comprehensive suite of trip logging, communication, and administration features have made this unique cross-county All Stars Challenge a far easier and more manageable task. Since both municipalities already used RideAmigos, which natively supports such “normalized” percentage-based challenges, setting up and running the challenge was as easy as deciding the teams, setting up the system, and displaying the results. 

The San Luis Obispo Council of Governments has been an early adopter of the RideAmigos Academy Coffee Talk X initiative, which grew out of the popular Coffee Talk webinar series. In the ramp-up to the challenge, SLOCOG and SBCAG joined forces for several Coffee Talk X events to prepare their teams. Coffee Talk X enables RideAmigos partner organizations to draw ideas and foster direct connections with the employers and commuters they represent, helping them build sustainable commuting strategies that generate higher levels of participation. 

Beyond free participation in Coffee Talks, all RideAmigos platform administrators enjoy full access to the RideAmigos Academy. The Academy takes a community-focused approach to providing help, insights, ideas, and collaboration opportunities to those who want to play a leading role in the move toward sustainable commuting.

The RideAmigos team is all about collaboration, and we recognize that people have the power to create incredibly positive changes when they work together. To that end, we’d like to invite you to join our thriving and growing community of collaborators. Check out the numerous ways to get started with RideAmigos.

Incentives for Bike Commuting

Organizations that offer bike commuting incentives have a better track record of getting people to make the switch

A lot of people are theoretically open to making the switch to bicycle commuting, yet hesitate to actually make the jump or don’t stick with it for the long term. It’s a problem that many businesses and organizations have faced when trying to promote active, healthier and more ecologically responsible commuting alternatives.

One constant that’s emerged from creative thinking and a great deal of trial and error is that people are more likely to make the switch if you give them a compelling reason to do it. This strategy of providing bike commuting incentives can take many forms:

Competitive challenges

Some people just need to have their competitive spirit awakened, and creating a friendly but competitive bike challenge program is often enough to get commuters excited. Individuals and teams can vie to log the greatest number of bicycle commutes or the greatest total distance covered over a set period of time, with winners becoming eligible for prizes (and bragging rights!).

Points programs

Reward would-be drivers every time they commute by bike instead by awarding points for each vehicle commute saved. After reaching a certain threshold, the points can then be redeemed for prizes or other perks that might motivate your team members.

Raffles

This approach is similar to points programs, but instead of awarding points, they give commuters an entry in a prize draw for each bicycle commute they log. The bigger the prize, the more enthusiastic people will be.

Earn-a-bike initiatives

Numerous organizations have used this approach to great success. Earn-a-bike programs allow commuters to effectively trade their parking privileges for a bike. Check the Sonos earn-a-bike program for a great example of a strategy that worked very well.

If you need ideas for raffle, points program and competitive challenge prizes, here are some popular options:

  • Bikes or bike accessories (locks, helmets, reflective jerseys, etc.)
  • Vouchers or gift cards redeemable at local bike shops
  • Physical or digital-download gift cards to local malls, restaurants, or retailers
  • Event tickets (sports, movies, etc.)
  • Extra paid time off
  • Cash bonuses
  • Transit passes
  • Rideshare credits to services like Uber and Lyft

The RideAmigos team has great insights to share if you’re looking to create a bike commuting incentives program, and the RideAmigos platform is the ideal tool for shifting commuter behavior. Get started with RideAmigos today to learn more.

How to Encourage Employees to Carpool

Businesses can encourage employee carpooling by using proven strategies to reduce the use of single-occupancy vehicles.

Companies looking to encourage employee carpooling can draw on numerous strategies that many businesses have already used to great effect. All successful employee carpooling programs have one element in common: they make ridesharing as easy and convenient as possible, positioning it as a viable alternative to commuting in a single-occupancy vehicle.

Here are three ways businesses can encourage employee carpooling by making ridesharing more accessible:

  • Help match commuters. It is common, especially in larger companies, for otherwise willing rideshare partners living in the same area to be unaware of available opportunities. Programs that actively aim to match prospective rideshare participants together stand a much better chance of success.
  • Offer parking benefits to rideshare drivers. Parking-based strategies can take several forms, including offering preferred parking spots or discounted parking rates to rideshare drivers. Parking cash-out programs also provide a meaningful financial incentive for commuters to use alternative transportation modes.
  • Introduce incentives and an element of friendly competition. Make ridesharing a game, and offer prizes to the teams that log the most commutes or the greatest number of rideshare miles traveled.

Commuter matching also helps employees forge friendships and valuable networking relationships. This, in turn, delivers intangible business benefits stemming from a more collegial and cooperative environment.

With parking benefits, it’s important to remember that giving preferred spots to vehicles used in carpool programs doubles as a form of free promotion. Other employees will see these vehicles prominently positioned in parking lots, understand the rideshare benefit, and become aware of the company’s carpooling program if they are not already. They’re also more likely to take part themselves!

As for carpool challenges and competitions: these can be fun, but their results don’t often make a long-term impact. Many participants simply go back to solo driving once the competition ends. You can help change this by supplementing challenge-based competitions with a commuter store. This strategy lets you encourage employees to carpool by offering points every time they log a rideshare commute. They can then redeem those points for enticing prizes, which is a great incentive and proven driver of continued behavior change.

Highlight end-user benefits to encourage employees to carpool and increase program participation.

It also helps to actively promote the many individual benefits employees can enjoy by taking part in carpooling programs:

  • Carpooling helps reduce stress, improve productivity, and increase overall happiness
  • Employees who participate in rideshare programs save money in fuel costs while reducing everyday wear-and-tear on their personal vehicles
  • Rideshare programs create a stronger sense of community and helps employees foster personal connections they might not otherwise have made

Here, the key is to remember a universal truth: most people want to do things that help the greater good, but they’re also interested in helping themselves. Thus, it’s a good idea to reinforce the ways in which individuals stand to benefit from your company’s rideshare policies.

Encourage employees to carpool and give your business a competitive advantage at the same time

Businesses that offer employee carpooling programs also project positive community values, helping attract and retain better talent. This is especially true for the millennial generation, which is now entering the workforce in large numbers and driving change in the way companies think about their commuter policies.

Market research shows that millennials look beyond compensation when weighing job offers. In addition to salary and benefits, they also consider the company’s culture and tend to favor employers whose values reflect their own. Thus, implementing a forward-thinking and easily accessible set of commuter programs can be an effective way to entice prospective employees to accept a position.

Survey data from 2018 also found that 23% of people have quit a job because of an unfavorable commute. Having an effective rideshare program to encourage employees to carpool makes it more likely that your business will retain the talent it attracts. It also helps you sell the idea that your company believes in a positive work-life balance, which is another key value shared by large numbers of younger workforce members.

RideAmigos helps encourage employees to carpool with user-friendly tools that drive behavior change

With rideshare matching, trip planners, interactive dashboards, and journey logging features, the RideAmigos software platform is an ideal tool for creating and managing company-wide carpooling networks. Administrators can also take advantage of RideAmigos’ many gamification and incentive features to boost participation rates by creating friendly competitions among commuters.

RideAmigos is one of the world’s most trusted names in transportation demand management software, and we’ve already helped a long list of businesses implement successful ridesharing and carpooling programs. If you’d like to become another of our many success stories, get started now.

Partner Highlight – SLOCOG

Here at RideAmigos we’re always excited to see how our organizations are making the most of our TDM platform. This month we’re featuring our partners at the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments – SLOCOG for short. One of SLOCOG’s major programs is the SLO Regional Rideshare.

Rideshare.org & iRideshare.org

The SLO Regional Rideshare breaks down a major barrier to smarter commuting by being very easy to find online. Rideshare.org is their primary homepage, full of information about their various TDM programs. Their partner site, iRideshare.org, is home to their local implementation of our RideAmigos ridesharing, route finding, and commute management software.

SLOCOG is a great example of providing relevant, behavior-changing programming through government-supported rideshare solutions.

Recently we had a chance to catch up with Peter Williamson, Employee Outreach Coordinator for SLOCOG’s rideshare programs, to learn about some of their successes. Here’s what we learned:

Back ‘N’ Forth Club

History

The Back ‘N’ Forth Club is SLOCOG’s program for employers to encourage and incentivize their employees to skip the solo drive and use smarter forms of transportation. Started in 2007-8, the Back ‘N’ Forth Club underwent a major expansion about 2 years ago when Peter began focusing on rideshare initiatives full-time. Over the years the Club has grown to support more employers and developed additional resources, tools, and structures of success.

One of the major evolutions of the Back ‘N’ Forth Club has been customizing their incentive plans to maximize benefits for employers. Since each employee base is unique, different employers often find different incentives work better than others. In addition to their in-house incentives, the Back ‘N’ Forth Club also works with employers to offer options like extra vacation days. Such perks may prove even more enticing than financial incentives to some employees. This collaborative approach has helped the Club stay clearly focused on finding out what employers want and need while supporting their goals and values.

Highlights

The most successful programs of the Back ‘N’ Forth Club center around creating competition and positive peer pressure using transportation challenges and incentives. Their campaigns like Bike Month and Rideshare Week push commuters to try new ways of getting to work, even if just for a day or two. The hope is always that by seeing how easy and fun smarter commute methods can be then people will be more likely to use them in the future. SLOCOG has found particular success with focusing on one-time events, like bike day or rideshare day. This is because committing to one day seems much less intimidating than a week or month.

SLOCOG’s experience proves the most effective way for getting employees to log trips is paid incentives from employers. The Back ‘N’ Forth Club provides their services to employers so they can offer incentives without adding internal overhead. As mentioned earlier, they’ve had great success expanding their incentives to include additional perks unique to particular employers. Currently they have approximately 45 employers involved and around a thousand active users on their iRideshare platform.

Future

SLOCOG’s next big TDM program will be Rideshare Week 2016. Coming up in October, Rideshare Week will challenge employees to pledge to ride share for a specific number of days that week. Education and personal presence is a big part of this program’s success. Peter will be on site with various employers throughout the week. His focus will be having one-on-one conversations with employees about ridesharing. It’s a great opportunity to encourage commuters to use iRideshare to their fullest advantage.

A particularly exciting collaboration that is in the works is with BoltAbout electric bicycle rentals. Electric bicycles are a great way to get more people interested in biking, but their initial cost is intimidating. By offering e-bikes for rent, BoltAbout aims to change that. Through partnering with BoltAbout, SLOCOG hopes to offer e-bikes as another mode option for smart commuters.

The final big project that has Peter excited is the brand new Downtown SLO program. Since existing SLOCOG employer programs are aimed primarily at companies of a particular size or larger, Downtown SLO serves as a targeted program for downtown San Luis Obispo. This creates a new option for employees and owners of small businesses to participate in the Back N Forth club more easily. Reaching out to small, downtown businesses has the potential to create an even greater impact in an area where larger employers have already found success.

 

We at RideAmigos applaud Peter and the whole SLOCOG crew for all of the success they’re seeing in their TDM initiatives!

 

If you’re interested in finding out how RideAmigos can help increase participation and impact for your organization’s transportation demand management programs, contact us today.

Do EVs really count as alternative transportation?

Should electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles qualify as an alternative method of transportation?

One of the most common ways in which government agencies and transportation management authorities try to get people thinking about and using smarter forms of transportation is to sponsor “alternative commuting” challenges. When planning such initiatives, the question of what exactly qualifies as an “alternative” method of transportation frequently arises. One of the most spirited debates revolves around electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

Electric vehicles (EVs) and their plug-in hybrid counterparts are fast becoming very popular with people that want to commute smarter and reduce the environmental impact of their transportation choices. But do they truly qualify as “alternative methods of transportation?”

Here are some of the factors to consider when deciding whether or not to include them on a list of approved transportation options when creating commuter challenge programs:

  • EVs do not create any tailpipe emissions. Meanwhile, gasoline-electric hybrids create reduced emissions while enjoying far superior fuel efficiency rates than gas-only vehicles.
  • Though energy efficient, single-occupancy EVs and plug-in hybrids still take up just as much road and parking space as other automobiles.
  • EVs and plug-in hybrids aren’t as immediately accessible to commuters who want to participate in challenges, given that they require a major up-front investment that many people simply aren’t able to make.

For governments and TMAs, the end goal is to get people to think critically about their transportation choices.

While the debate about whether to count EVs and plug-in hybrids continues, it’s important for program developers to remember that alternatives like walking, biking, carpooling, and ridesharing are likely to be much more popular and accessible to participants. The goal of such initiatives is to encourage people to think differently about their transportation choices, and that objective should always remain front and center. If solo EV and plug-in hybrid drivers are asking to be included in a city-wide or regional alternative commuting challenge, remember to consider all the factors in play when making such a decision and be ready to educate your users about your reasoning.

Products like the RideAmigos TDM software platform power the technical management of alternative commuting challenges and initiatives. Offering a complete suite of trip planning, data management, analytics, incentivization, and challenge tracking features, RideAmigos has become an essential part of the TDM strategies of municipalities and governments across the United States and around the world.

To learn more, please contact us or sign up to view our free, comprehensive video demonstration.

Photo by Jason Cartwright [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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Smart Commute Challenges and Events

Smart commute challenge programs increase commuter engagement with alternatives to driving.

Commuters are often aware of the benefits of using alternatives to solo driving, and many of them even express a desire to give other transportation modes a try. Despite this, a lot of commuters are hesitant to actually take that step. Smart commute challenge programs are a great way to kick-start engagement with alternative transportation options and can lead to long-term behavior change.

Businesses and employees both have a lot to gain by embracing smart commute modes. On the business side, commuter challenge programs can reduce parking demand and the costs that come with it. They also contribute to an enhanced sense of camaraderie, teamwork, and morale, all of which are great for companies.

For commuters, challenge programs provide an excellent opportunity to forge new social and professional relationships with peers. They can also help employees save money on their travel costs, which often proves to be a powerful motivator for continuing to use alternatives even after the challenge program ends.

Get started with these popular ideas for smart commute challenge programs.

There are multiple opportunities for businesses to launch smart commute challenge programs built right into the calendar. May is National Bike Month, and it’s the perfect time to launch a cycling-based commuter challenge. By the same token, October is National Rideshare Month, and the arrival of cooler weather is ideal for getting people to engage with smarter ways of using private vehicles or transit options to commute.

Other popular ideas and strategies include:

  • Dividing departments and/or regional offices into teams and launching a company-wide smart commute challenge
  • Launching a bike-to-lunch event that encourages commuters to take a midday cycling break that boosts creativity, supports a healthier workforce, and relieves stress
  • Creating a multi-mode challenge built around getting individuals or teams to log trips using as many alternative modes of transportation as they can
  • Trying an employees-only “smart commute picnic,” or similar event in which everyone gets to the event using an alternative mode of transportation

While the thrill of competition may be enough for some, you’ll enjoy even higher rates of participation if you offer perks and prizes to leaders and winners. For one-off commuter events like a smart commute picnic, prize winners can be drawn at random from the pool of participants. Ongoing programs can include points programs or other incentives, too. The bigger and better the prizes, the more excited people will be.

The RideAmigos software platform delivers a comprehensive set of powerful, easy-to-use tools for creating, promoting, and managing smart commute challenge programs. Get started today and increase employee engagement with your organization’s commuter initiatives.