3 Impressive Executives Leading the Way to Smarter Commuting

Join these high-profile organizational leaders in inspiring people to change how they commute

Leading by example is one of the most effective ways to encourage organizational change. An increasing number of executives are doing exactly that when it comes to smarter commuting. Here’s a look at three people in leadership positions who are choosing enjoyable, environmentally friendly ways of getting to work:

Alan Elser
CFO, GM Nameplate

Despite a notoriously rainy climate, a growing number of Seattle commuters are choosing to bike to work throughout the year. Among them is Alan Elser, the chief financial officer of GM Nameplate, a leading supplier of custom-manufactured industrial goods
In 2013, the Puget Sound Business Journal reported that Elser bikes to work three times a week. The 24-mile journey between GM Nameplate’s Seattle headquarters and his May Valley-area home is undaunting for Elser. “Riding in in the morning is a great way to wake up and plan your day,” Elser said in an interview. “Riding home is a chance to decompress.”

Jennifer Welch
Managing Deputy Commissioner,
Chicago Department of Family and Support Services

She may have a much shorter commute than Elser, but Jennifer Welch bikes to work and back all year round, despite during Chicago’s notoriously cold and snowy winters. Her four-mile commute takes her from Logan Square toward the center of the city. Even when Chicago was hammered by the “Snowmaggedon” blizzard in the winter of 2011, Welch bundled up and biked to her job at the Department of Family and Support Services. Even more, her blizzard bike commute included a trip to the city’s 911 center to attend to a staffing emergency.

Christopher Eisgruber
President, Princeton University

The Princeton University president has emerged as a strong voice in the local call for better biking infrastructure. Traffic congestion makes cycling to Princeton’s campus challenging. But, thanks to a vocal advocacy campaign, the city of Princeton seems to be moving towards becoming more bike-friendly. Eisgruber says he cycles to work as often as possible, and hopes that the city will do its part to encourage others to join him.

RideAmigos salutes these and the many other business, education and government leaders who are leaving their cars behind more often. If you’re part of an organization that’s committed to helping commuters make smarter choices, be sure to check out our comprehensive TDM software toolkit. We deliver powerful solutions for ridesharing, trip planning, incentives, and data analysis.  Transforming how your organization commutes can have a major positive impact on your bottom line. Contact us to schedule your personal demonstration.

The Benefits of a Guaranteed Ride Home

What is a Guaranteed Ride Home program?

Imagine these scenarios: an employee who commutes by bike is about to head home when an unexpected thunderstorm hits. Or, a public transit commuter has to suddenly rush home to pick up a sick child from school. A Guaranteed Ride Home program comes through by providing quick, reliable transportation when it’s needed most.

A Guaranteed Ride Home program (sometimes called an Emergency Ride Home program) is a common feature of workplaces that encourage commuters to use means other than than single occupant vehicles. While the specifics of each program vary from company to company, they generally follow this type of structure:

  • The program is open to employees that regularly use alternative means of transportation during their commutes
  • “Alternative means of transportation” can include cycling, walking, public transit or any other approved mode
  • Employees that use these modes for commuting at least two to three times per week qualify for the program
  • Qualified employees can get a free ride home a specified number of times per year if an emergency situation arises

Guaranteed Ride Home programs encourage alternative transportation use

The key benefit of setting up an Emergency/Guaranteed Ride Home program is that it makes it commuters more likely to use alternative transportation. If people know they have a reliable ride home in an emergency, they’re more likely to skip the solo drive.

The RideAmigos platform offers extensive technical support to workplace managers who want to create Guaranteed Ride Home programs. Creating and managing such a program is quick and easy, thanks to our comprehensive toolkit.

Here’s an example of how simple it is to set up and manage a ride home program using RideAmigos:

  • Create a specific private network that will be limited to employees who are eligible to participate in the program.
  • Attach any necessary descriptions to each user in the system, or send a message to qualified users to let them know they’re in the program.
  • Use the platform’s survey tool to collect information from participants, as needed.
  • Add new members manually, or by sending “join us” links to qualified employees.
  • Create a points program to manage the redemption of rides by employees who qualify.
  • Add the ride home vouchers as inventory items; they will be managed and distributed automatically by the platform.

You can view more details and specifics by visiting the RideAmigos Academy help page on Guaranteed Ride Home programs.

Using Data Instead of Appearances

Bike lanes: a case study in the difference between appearance and reality

Bike lanes are built at a significant cost to taxpayers, and when they appear to be underutilized, municipal governments can be pressured to abandon projects that would otherwise have resulted in massive city-wide improvements in cycling infrastructure. However, there’s a school of thought that suggests the apparent usage and effectiveness of bike lanes is easily misinterpreted. To the casual observer, bike lanes often appear to be underused when, in fact, they may not be.

Density is one of the key metrics that tracks bike lane usage patterns, and it’s a tricky one because appearances can be very deceiving. Consider, for example, a road with a traffic lane and a parallel lane dedicated for use by cyclists.

The traffic lane, due to traffic signals and the high volume of cars on the road, is moving at an average speed of 5 mph during rush hour. With a flow of 500 vehicles per hour, traffic would be approaching the density of a traffic jam — making it appear as though the road was in very high demand for use by vehicles.

Next, assume an identical flow of 500 vehicles per hour in the adjoining bike lane. Because these bikes are traveling at higher speeds than the cars on the road next to them, bicycle traffic is circulating at a much more fluid rate. Bikes are smaller, with more space between them, which exaggerates the impression that the traffic load is imbalanced.

To the driver stuck in gridlock, it appears as though the bike lane isn’t experiencing nearly as much demand because their lane is full and the bike lane has much more open space. The driver then promptly calls his or her city councilor to complain about the wasted road space upon returning home.

Real data generates more reliable insights than anecdotal observations

While the aforementioned scenario may seem oversimplified, the reality is that municipal governments use this kind of anecdotal evidence to inform their policy decisions all the time. Their thinking is that if enough people are complaining about a problem — in this case, that bike lanes are underused — there must be some truth to the issue.

This is a perfect example of how tools like the RideAmigos software platform can help municipalities make more effective infrastructure decisions. As riders log their bicycle trips they provide system administrators comprehensive collections of hard data, which can be analyzed and sorted into customizable reports that deliver reliable, fact-based insights into actual traffic and commuting patterns. This, in turn, informs better and more equitable policy decisions that benefit the entire community. Sign up now to view a comprehensive demonstration of our platform’s transformative power.

Check out this source for a more in-depth mathematical analysis of this effect:
On Why Bike Lanes Might Appear Underutilized | Transportationist

Overcoming Congestion By Empowering Commuters

All too often, conventional approaches to fighting traffic congestion amount to little more than wasted taxpayer money.

To the growing frustration of many taxpayers, municipalities and government agencies around the country are throwing money at inefficient ways to relieve the ever-present problem of traffic congestion. Consider the following examples:

  • Colorado’s state government recently proposed a $1.2 billion plan to widen the I-70 freeway in Denver
  • The city of Louisville, Kentucky is bankrolling the expansion of the I-71 freeway from four lanes to six
  • The state of Iowa wants to broaden U.S. Highway 20 up to four lanes to accommodate the growing demands of car-based travel
  • Alabama’s state government supports to widen the I-20/59 freeway — a highway that runs right through Birmingham’s city center

While they may provide the illusion of relief over the short term, these approaches amount to more pollution, more concrete, more construction and more problems in the future. They aren’t effectively addressing the root causes of gridlock and traffic-generated pollution; they’re simply masking the issue. We need commuters to think differently about their transportation options.

Planning for a better future can’t be done by catering to the needs of single-occupancy vehicles. Rather, governments must find ways to inspire commuters and travelers to make better use of alternatives like biking, walking, ridesharing, carpooling, vanpooling and public transit. How? By putting a new generation of powerful transportation planning tools into the hands of an increasingly larger base of users.

At RideAmigos, we’ve created a smarter way forward in the form of our critically-acclaimed transportation demand management software platform. It enables municipalities and governments to strategize and promote alternatives that generate meaningful results by transforming the ways people think about getting from point A to B.

Empowering commuters to make fully-informed transportation decisions is our specialty at RideAmigos. We provide end users with innovative and easy-to-use tools like an interactive commuter dashboard and multimodal trip planner to consider the wide array of options beyond single-occupancy vehicles.

A small investment in technology can pay big dividends and facilitate more effective allocation of limited resources.

Our user-focused software has been proven time and time again to reduce reliance on single-occupancy vehicles and make alternative options more accessible and more convenient than ever before. Effective solutions to traffic congestion happen when municipalities and governments take decisive steps to make it easier for people to leave their cars at home, and that’s the power of the RideAmigos platform.

Make better use of taxpayer dollars and be part of the solution rather than just sweeping the problem under the rug of a widened freeway. Contact RideAmigos today for an informative, eye-opening demonstration of the incredible power of our unique technology.

Transit Shutdown

Transit shutdowns in metro areas can wreak havoc on commuters. How would you deal with it?

The subway system in Washington, DC recently went through an emergency one-day shutdown as the result of electrical problems. In deciding to implement the service interruption, Washington Metro’s general manager said that crew members had identified 26 locations throughout the subway system where electrical cables and electrical boots had been damaged, necessitating immediate repair. The ensuing transit shutdown lasted an entire day, creating a nightmare for the tens of thousands of people who rely on the city’s public transportation system to get around.

While such measures are occasionally necessary to protect passenger safety, they also pose major problems. Many people don’t have a viable alternative to public transportation. In many cases that’s because they simply aren’t aware of the available options. Ride-sharing programs, carpools, vanpools and cycling routes are among the choices available every day to Washington, DC residents, but a lot of people don’t know how to access them or get the information they need to take advantage of them.

This is a clear example of a situation where the RideAmigos platform could literally have saved the day for thousands of stranded commuters.

The RideAmigos platform is the perfect solution for urban travelers who need to find alternatives to their usual ways of getting around.

Our innovative platform is designed to connect people to a complete network of local transportation options, including everything from conventional offerings like public transit and walking or cycling to new developments such as ride-sharing and vanpooling. With a multimodal trip planner, users can plot their courses from A to B in seconds, using their choice of all available modes of transportation. The entire subway is going to be shut down for a day? No problem! Simply use the RideAmigos platform to find a better way to get around without the need for single-passenger vehicles.

The RideAmigos platform has been adopted by municipalities and governments across the United States and around the world, with clients raving about the positive changes it’s brought to their communities and organizations. Experts have noted that in the future, it won’t be modes of transportation that change, but rather the way people access and use those modes of transportation. Our goal is to enact that change and all the benefits that come with it, including stronger communities, reduced congestion, and less pollution.

To learn more, view this comprehensive demo that shows how our unique platform works.

Encouraging Government Collaboration

Governments should collaborate and work together, rather than alone, to find effective transportation management solutions.

To truly change the way people commute and move around urban areas, it is absolutely necessary for government agencies to form partnerships and engage in collaborative efforts. Government collaboration leads to proven benefits, including increases in both the quality and the quantity of available data, heightened user and community engagement, and a big boost to the pool of resources on hand.

Progress can’t be made in a bubble, and the effects of positive change are stifled when they’re limited to isolated communities and confined geographic areas. In an age ruled by information, there’s no reason for governments to take a limited view when collaboration and collective approaches to implementing improvements are so much easier than they were in the past.

In some cases, the willingness to collaborate is there but the actual tools governments need to foster deeper levels of cooperation are not. To that end, here are some key ways government agencies can work together to build a better transportation management system:

  • Share overlapping sets of data. Shared databases that allow users cross-county access to information make for excellent commute planning tools. Local governments can also share trip logs, trip reports and user-generated data to uncover the key insights that lead to progressive and effective policy changes.
  • Leverage collective changes across public and private sectors. When the public and private sectors work together to find dynamic new solutions, everyone wins. Municipalities and local governments save money, boost economic growth and cut down on traffic congestion, and businesses build more productive, more efficient and more satisfying workforces.
  • Help local companies implement smarter commuting policies. If companies have multiple offices or locations that cross county lines or other geographic boundaries, governments that don’t collaborate to facilitate change are working against the economic and environmental good. Instead, work together to help companies with multiple locations plan more intelligently and offer their employees a better way to get around.
  • Copy what works. If your neighbor has introduced a change that’s generating positive results, just take what they’ve done and do it yourself! When solutions are proven to work, it’s easier to get community members and stakeholders on board, and that will ultimately be better for everyone.

Collaboration promotes goodwill between communities while maximizing the reach of taxpayer monies. Think “we,” not “us,” and get on the road to a better way of living that benefits everyone.

RideAmigos actively supports collaboration between government agencies and other clients through our innovative academy site, where users can learn from the ideas and successes of colleagues around the world.

To learn more about how we can meet your transportation management needs, please take a look at our video demo.

Government Commuting Initiatives

Looking ahead to what urban transportation will be like 10 to 20 years from now.

The heyday of the single-occupancy vehicle is in decline, and government commuting planners are looking forward to a future where people are less reliant on personal vehicles and make more efficient use of alternatives like mass transit, ride-sharing, walking and biking. So where, exactly, is commuting headed? How will it be different in a decade or two than it is right now?

Experts say that the big changes aren’t going to be in the modes of transportation people use. Subways, trams and streetcars, commuter trains and buses will still make up the lion’s share of urban mass transit, and walking and cycling will still rank among the primary alternatives. While newer concepts like vanpooling and ride-sharing seem to be in line for a spike in use, the real innovation isn’t going to come from the methods of transportation themselves; it’s going to come from the way people use them.

Everything about commuting will be integrated. Some pundits are even predicting that cities will be able to remove four out of every five cars currently on the road. But what about today? What can be done right now to help make this future a reality sooner?

Transportation patterns seen in younger demographics point the way forward for government commuting planners.

Looking at the millennial generation, it’s clear that walking, biking, public transportation and ride-sharing are viewed as far more viable transportation options than single-occupancy vehicles. When traveling by car is an absolute necessity, alternatives like ride-sharing and vanpooling are preferred approaches. Transportation industry insiders are unanimous in saying that the biggest leaps forward will come when the technology to make better use of these alternatives is put in the hands of a broader base of commuters.

Apps are going to be game-changers. Users will be able to plan trips within seconds, weighing the costs and benefits of the various alternatives available and instantly accessing detailed multimodal route information based on current weather and traffic conditions. In fact, those apps and technology platforms are<already available.

The RideAmigos team has emerged as a leading force in the move towards smarter and more efficient urban commuting and transportation. Our proprietary technologies are already being used by government agencies and businesses around the world to help get people from A to B with less stress and greater efficiency. View our demo to learn more, or contact us for further information.