Shifting from a car to another form of transportation is a big deal—one that could use broad organizational support. Otherwise, it seems like all of the incentives are out there for driving (like the average six parking spots per metro area for one vehicle. It’s like a brick to the accelerator).
It’s why strong green commute incentives are worth celebrating and repeating. For a decade, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History has offered a parking cash out program—which pays employees up to $50 a month to use alternatives to driving alone.
(To that point, we have heard of at least one more non-profit organization in University Circle that has followed suit and launch a parking cash out program).
Cash is undeniably a great incentive to shift your mode of transportation. But it’s not the only one. Some workplaces offer personal time off. PTO has great value; it is a currency that can be used to return some of the balance (an opportunity to do school pick up and make dinner while your partner enjoys exercise) to the green commute/life equation.
What exactly are the benefits of green commuting? Thanks to the new trip planner and green commute tracker, Gohio Commute, which was launched by the metropolitan planning organization, NOACA, in April for all of Northeast Ohio to use, it is possible to compare and track carbon and money saved per trip.
(Personally, I’ve counted 24 bike, transit and walking trips for a $30 savings and a reduction of 46 pounds of CO2. I wonder if that captures the savings from not having to join a gym?).
I’m excited personally and for the region to use Gohio Commute for this and other features, like its ride and bike pool matching service.
I have started promoting its use among the 165 employees at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History (see image of flier above). I set up a “subsite” for employees to track their multi-modal trips and earn credit for green commutes during the National Bike Challenge and for National Bike Month in May.
In addition, we are testing Gohio Commute for the tracking and mobilization of Incentives, including our parking cash out (aka Green Commute) program and our Commuter Choice Award, which includes a cash prize that can be used to increase the green commute incentive.
We have decided to increase the coverage of transit with the award so that employees who want to try taking transit could, while supplies last, get unlimited rides on RTA.
In addition, we are supporting the investment that Cuyahoga County and the City of Cleveland made in bike share by subsidizing an introductory use of the UHBikes system. With 10 bike share stations in or coming to University Circle, incentives to use bikes for trips in the district will reduce car trips and perhaps convince people to leave their car parked at home.
Gohio Commute will help track usage and savings and share the rewards of green commuting.
The next mountain to scale will be in communicating how shifting modes provides benefits that match with values like conservation and protecting natural resources. Where the (bike) rubber meets the road between earth friendly transportation options and those of us who want to do something positive for the next generation, there’s a need for incentives, from monetary to the time it takes to make car lite living a family friendly choice.