The surprising secret to a less stressful commute
Would you prefer to A) referee fighting children, B) clean a bathroom or C) commute to work?
Research has shown that most people would rather do almost anything but “C.” No other daily task is as joy-crushing as commuting to work, not even chores. Apparently, people would rather scrub toilets than commute.*
For thousands of people in Pima County, commuting can’t be avoided. Maybe you’re one of them. Most travel by car. The vast majority of car commuters drive alone. But it turns out that being alone — not the drive itself — might be the true downer. Research has shown that talking to others while commuting improves the way people feel afterward. Good feelings improved even among commuters who thought talking would make matters worse. In other words, ridesharing doesn’t just reduce stress on the environment and roads. It reduces stress on people. The ripple effects are everything from weight loss to better family time to a friendlier community. That’s why we care about making ridesharing work for YOU. Sun Rideshare, a commuter assistance program of Pima Association of Governments (PAG), offers:
- Assistance to large companies to make carpooling and transit use easier on employees, knowing that tired, stressed drivers in our region are a public health risk to you and yours. The National Traffic Safety Administration (NTSA) reports that fatal accidents involving road rage increased nearly tenfold between 2004 and 2015. NTSA also reports that drowsy driving causes as many as 1.2 crashes and more than 5,000 deaths per year. Here’s to your safety!
- A commuter-savings calculator to help you calculate how you can save in your daily commute. The average annual savings for commuters who switch to public transportation is over $9,700, according to the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) January Transit Savings Report. Here’s to your wealth!
- Support to consider an active-mode of transport such as biking. In a 2013 study of 800+ commuters, those who commuted by car were shown to gain more weight on average than those who used active transport modes, even if the car commuters regularly exercised. Here’s to your health!
“Commuting is a migraine-inducing life-suck — a mundane task about as pleasurable as assembling flat-pack furniture or getting your license renewed, and you have to do it every day.”
—Annie Lowrey, Slate
*Read more about the research here.
How to make Bike-to-Work Week work for you
There's more than one way to roll for this April 24-28 event
Bike-to-Work Week returns the last week of April as a bike commute promotion of the Travel Reduction Program, with a new focus on helping regional employers leverage their resources for the benefit of their employees. Companies across the region are offering incentives to employees who consider participating in bike commuting for the week. Some companies, including GEICO, Intuit, the Pima County Department of Environmental Quality and the City of Tucson, are also holding leader-led rides, with senior management cycling at the front of the pack.
The rides culminate with company-sponsored events that celebrate bike commuters to recognize the benefits of this active mode of commuting. If you’re a Transportation Coordinator (TC) and want to encourage participation within your company, here are some ideas to get you thinking:
- Offer recognition/prizes to participants
- Offer breakfast/lunch to cyclists
- Host a Bike to Work Day barbecue
- Give away regional bike maps
- Offer wellness incentives for participation
- Organize an inter-departmental challenge
The Travel Reduction Program is managed by PAG, the region's metropolitan planning organization. For more information about the program or participation in Bike-to-Work Week, contact the program's outreach coordinator, Genine Sullivan.
Did you know that Tucson recently ranked third out of 12 comparable U.S. cities in its bicycling infrastructure capacity? It has 1.8 miles of bike infrastructure per square mile, twice as much as Phoenix.
Vanpool vogue: small-group commuting makes a comeback
The coolest van in town still belongs to the ice cream man, but your local vanpool has a close runner-up
Vanpooling is often the most cost-effective form of commuting, particularly for people with 10 or more miles to travel and at least a half dozen people to share the ride. Now is a great time to check for new vanpool opportunities near you. Just register at SunRideshare.org to search for matches or get on a waitlist.
Pima Association of Governments, through its Travel Reduction Program, has worked with numerous local employers to help them launch employee vanpools. Big kudos to companies such as Miraval Resorts and Raytheon for offering this valuable benefit that’s known to reduce stress on employees, our environment and our roads.
Are you a transportation coordinator (TC) interested in making vanpooling work for your company? Contact Genine Sullivan, Outreach Coordinator for the Travel Reduction Program of Pima Association of Governments.
Building a healthier community
PAG announces a new partnership with the Y
Pima Association of Governments (PAG) is teaming up with the YMCA of Southern Arizona to encourage Y s taff and members to see the wellness benefits of carpooling and using active modes of transportation, such as riding a bicycle to work.
PAG’s Travel Reduction Program promotes the use of alternative transportation modes, and its Sun Rideshare program gives active participants an opportunity to earn Walgreens gift cards by logging their monthly trips.
The partnership with the Y, which is dedicated to improving the human quality of life, allows PAG to provide information to Y staff and members about the healthy habits of sharing the ride, biking or walking. PAG also will receive single-day passes from the Y to use as Travel Reduction Program incentives at upcoming events for people who register at SunRideshare.org.
Anna Mendoza, Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind
When is the last time another commuter wished you good morning or waved at you on your way to work? If you drive alone — as the vast majority of workers in Pima County still do — your answer is probably never. For commuters like Anna Mendoza, friendly greetings are par for the course. That’s because she bikes instead of drives the 5.2-mile round trip to her job.
In all my years of driving the same route, no one ever looked over and said good morning,” she says. “With cycling, most will give a greeting, a heads up, a ring or a smile.”
Mendoza, a human resources benefits analyst at the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind (ASDB), took the bike-to-work leap three years ago after moving to downtown Tucson. She’d been working at ASDB for more than 15 years by then and quickly found that biking eased her commute. That’s not merely because fellow cyclists have been so pleasant. Mendoza also receives a vehicle insurance discount for using her bike as her primary source of transportation, and she estimates she’s saving $15 to $20 each week on fuel. To spare you the mental math, that is $780 to $1,040 each year.
The health aspects are encouraging,” she says, “[the] physically moving after a long day of sitting, with mental health benefits provided by fresh air and nature, seeing the Santa Cruz River flowing on a rainy day and wildlife, connecting with others who like to bike.”
When Mendoza first started cycling, she faced typical challenges for a new bike commuter, including finding a reliable route, calculating travel time and dealing with bad weather. With the support of her manager, she was able to get some flexibility in her work schedule for the first few days so she could perfect her route. For rainy days, she’s found that all she needs are a good cover or a co-worker willing to give her a ride. She has both.
Dora Eamon, a human resources rep at the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind, serves as the school's designated transportation coordinator and notes that the school participates in Arizona's Health Impact Program (HIP). This point-based preventive health program rewards state employees for making healthy lifestyle choices, including walking or biking to work. That means that active-mode commuting is among the first things she discusses with new hires.
"Anna worked with our director to get bike racks in place," Eamon recalls. "Some people who decide to bike to work will just go to the store and buy any bike, but Anna said, 'If I'm going to do this, I'm going to do it right!' She loves that bike. She's so enthusiastic, it's adorable. She bought a matching helmet, the works. I think sometimes she even matches her clothes to her helmet."
Mendoza is riding to and from work four to five days each week now and loves it so much, she’s ready to kiss her car goodbye. That’s not just talk either. She says she’ll nix her car — along with the monthly payments and vehicle insurance fees — as soon as the lease expires.
If your job is too far for biking, why not bike to the bus? Check out this 50-second tutorial, showing how easy it is to load a bike on the bus rack, from PAG member City of Tucson through its Bicycle and Pedestrian Program.
Refer a Friend
Refer a friend to the Sun Rideshare program to be eligible to win a $25 Walgreens gift card. The more friends you refer, the more chances you have to win.
Sun Rideshare Rewards
Log your alt-mode trips monthly at Sun Rideshare Travel Database, and earn one point per trip. Meet the month’s point goal, and you’ll be eligible for our monthly Walgreens gift card drawing. View recent Rideshare Rewards winners here. View recent Mega Users here.
Limit of one reward gift card per person per year.
TRP Employer Awards
For recent Gold, Silver and Bronze employer awards from Pima Assocation of Governments (for achieving one, two or three Travel Reduction Program goals, respectively), click here.