Transit Thursday – Live Your Best Life

jump-1527153-1598x1061It’s easy to quantify the financial and health
benefits of taking public transportation, but what about just…happiness? Here at GoSmart, we are strong believers that if you take transit, you are living your best life.

Now I know that’s a big statement. And you’re thinking, “Sam, are you going to back this up?” Yes reader, I will. So read on!

Picture this, an uninterrupted period of time for you to organize, get ready for the day, catch up on work, or maybe just close your eyes and meditate? Now imagine that zen time replacing your frenzied and stressful commute via car. You can go from tense to relaxed, and drop some worries, with a new commute!

Public transit is a great time to catch up on reading, plan for the week, or just take a little time each day just for you! And it gets better, because there are life benefits, such as weight loss, increased economic opportunities, and an overall safer commute. Using transit may even make you more inventive since many bus commuters walk the first and last mile, and a study done at Stanford found walking to boost creative inspiration and output by up to 60%!


If the creativity boost and the mental health break doesn’t get you excited, how about prizes? With GoPerks and Share the Ride NC you can track any commute that you walk, bike, bus, carpool, you name it…just not driving alone! Your tracked miles turn into points which can be redeemed for some pretty awesome prizes…hint hint, gift cards! So head over to right now to learn all about it!

It’s not too late to get started on your resolutions, so head over to to learn more and join the conversation with #NewYearNewCommute.

Two Link Tuesday

Last week we touched on an inspiring story about one guy who spent a year riding his bike across the globe. This week, we wanted to continue the conversation on how biking can be a great alternative way to travel while highlighting some additional benefits of putting your pedals in gear.

Kids reading in a classroom while riding stationary bikes

Ride and Read

We often talk about the overall health benefits of changing the environment of transportation to a more efficient, sustainable one. From utilizing the bus system and biking to encouraging walkable communities, there are many pieces to be considered when creating these communities.

Commuting via the bus, train, or carpool not only works to do this while saving you money and the demands of driving, but also gives you time to catch up on emails, read, take a nap, or just clear your head.

This Fast Company article shared a profile on a school in the near and dear city of Winston-Salem, NC that is applying similar logic to their reading program. Students in this school can now stretch their legs, get their blood flowing, and knock out a few chapters in whatever book they’re reading. That’s right, a classroom full of stationary bikes for the specific purpose of pairing reading and exercise… and the school has seen great results.

Just like taking public transit allows you extra time for other activities that you can’t do while driving, these students are able to do this everyday task, reading, while getting all the added benefits of some time on top of a bike. Test scores have been better and kids with a lot of energy have a healthy outlet.

Maybe stand-up desks in offices will be replaced with bikes. Would you make the switch?

Cyclist riding in a bike lane

Biking Close to Home

There are all kinds of great places in the Triangle to ride your bike. You can spend a Saturday seeing downtown Raleigh or Durham from the seat of your bike or you can take a scenic trail and get some quiet exercise.

No matter what you choose, we want to be a resource for you. Take some time to visit our Cyclist Resources page and find a new place to take your two wheels.

Can’t wait to see you out there!

Two Link Tuesday

Every person who utilizes public transportation, rides a bike, carpools, or walks during their day has their own reason for doing so. Today I wanted to highlight a couple of those and give you some food for thought. Have you made a decision to stop driving to get from A to B in a more efficient or enjoyable way? What gets you excited to change your routine?

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“One thing is for sure, auto-free, my quality of life has improved dramatically, and yours can too.”

In his post, Brian Smith writes about his transition out of dependence on owning a car and into the freedoms that public transit allows. He depicts how the joy of driving as a teenager was replaced by the joy of biking through parks or being able to read on the bus while in traffic. (Probably a better option that having to channel your road rage.)

Participating in transit outside of driving your car leaves room for so many other things, from enjoying a good book to taking trips with the savings that come from relinquishing your four wheels. Brian’s is an inspiring example which shows that the downsides of giving up your car are far outweighed by the health, happiness, and richness that come with broadening the ways in which you live in and experience your city.

Earlier this year, our very own John Tallmadge took the challenge to go carless for a month in #CarlessMarch. If you missed it, check out his final thoughts in his recap post.

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“Napoleon napped between battles while sitting on his horse” and “Churchill maintained that he had to nap to cope with his wartime responsibilities”.

But maybe the words of Brian and John aren’t enough to encourage you to change your transit habits. Another benefit of using public transportation that I think is often overlooked: NAPS. That’s right, a couple extra z’s on your way to and from work is a huge benefit.

The Short List recently created this infographic displaying all the healthy side effects of a little extra sleep. Even naps as short as 2 minutes can relieve sleepiness and 5-20 minutes can improve alertness, stamina, and motor function. Keeping your car parked and using the bus or local vanpool can give you that mental boost and physical rejuvenation while on the go . And for those of us who struggle with the alarm clock, just think of commuting with public transit as a giant snooze button on your morning.

What is the biggest reason why you choose public transit? What benefits would you have to find to become a believer?

GreenLights: May 2014 Edition



This month’s GreenLights thanks RTI International, a Partnering Commuter sponsor for GoPoints and GoPerks.


Contributing Commuter



Let’s celebrate…. E A R T H by not driving alone.

Over 30 Brontos Took a Greener Commute for Earth Day

by Jeremy DeGroot, Software Engineer

This year Bronto celebrated Earth Day by encouraging everyone in our Durham office to come to work in an eco-friendly way. We bought lunch for walkers, bikers, carpoolers, bus riders and people who came in a wheelbarrow (yes, a wheelbarrow) to encourage them to get out of their comfort zone and try something other than the usual single-occupancy car.

In a region that’s not known for being transit or pedestrian-friendly, it can be challenging to get people to change up their routine. The month before Earth Day, Triangle Transit Authority came and spoke at Bronto’s monthly Lunch and Learn about transit options to get people thinking and talking about what they could do differently. The Green Committee spent the next month continuing to remind, cajole, and educate people about how they were getting to work on Transit Day. We also offered prizes to the people who took their green commute the farthest and posted the best selfies to our #BrontoTransit hashtag. Our winners for furthest commute were Melissa Crosby, Brianna Schelling, and Meredith McKenzie who carpooled from Raleigh.

The best selfie was posted by Ron Stebelton and Matthew Messana, for a photo that speaks for itself.

Mother Nature did her part on the day and gave us a beautiful day that got the bikers and walkers out in large numbers. Carpoolers and bus riders enjoyed their climate control anyway, and rode to work in the company of new friends and colleagues. Everyone said that the experience was positive, and for a lot of people it was their first time not driving to work. There were even a few people who were fully converted to public transit, like Adrian Bridges who rode the bus to work again on the Thursday following Earth Day and is now planning to ride 3-4 days a week.

For our first Bronto Transit Day, Bronto and the Green Committee are thrilled that we got so many people to participate, got some good conversations going, developed new green habits, and, most importantly, had fun. We had over 30 Brontos take the initiative to take a greener commute. They were rewarded with lunch on Bronto Transit Day.

Take a look at the tweets and pictures from the day.

See you on the bus!

Jeremy DeGroot
Software Developer
Green Committee Member

Bike Month….every month of the year!

FHI 360 was gracious to share some of their history and details of their efforts to promote cycling and bike safety. This is a great demonstration of an awesome program that has a tremendous impact on our community and the environment.

FHI 360 is a nonprofit human development organization dedicated to improving lives in lasting ways by advancing integrated, locally driven solutions. We have 404 employees in our Durham, NC headquarters and about 4,500 employees worldwide. Our staff includes experts in health, education, nutrition, environment, economic development, civil society, gender equality, youth, research and technology — creating a unique mix of capabilities to address today’s interrelated development challenges. FHI 360 serves more than 60 countries and all U.S. states and territories. As we evolve to meet the challenges of the future, we stand committed to the principles that have guided our organization for the last 40+ years. Our work continues to be grounded in research and science, strengthened by partnerships and focused on building the capacity of individuals, communities and countries to succeed.

FHI 360 recognizes the health and environmental benefits of bicycle commuting and encourages staff to consider this mode of transportation if it is possible and safe for them to do so. We offer a Bicycle Commuter Subsidy Program, in which bike commuters can claim up to $240 per calendar year for reasonable expenses associated with bike commuting to work. Our downtown Durham office has ample bike parking and locker rooms with showers. In April, Ken Kaye, a League of American Bicyclists instructor, offered a skills and awareness building session for safe bike commuting. We had 25 participants in our Durham office and 6 on video conference from DC. Ken talked about the basics of commuting by bicycle, safe cycling, riding in traffic, crash avoidance, and cyclists’ rights and responsibilities. He also touched on other topics such as gear and equipment, charity rides, riding with kids, and touring by bike. We heard a lot of positive feedback from the participants. Everyone came away with some new knowledge. Specifically, a number of riders subsequently purchased mirrors and other safety gear, including high-visibility clothing. Our other cycling efforts are: making basic equipment available (shared lock, pumps, patch kits, lube, etc.), hosting social events (such as cyclist breakfast) to encourage bike commuting, offering basic bike maintenance clinic (with Matt Loder – the Cycle Surgeon), and connecting bike commuters to support each other with route planning and tips for making commuting a joyful reality.

Bike to work …..every day!

George Mapp is an avid cyclist. Read his inspirational story of his daily commute.

Each weekday morning I roll out of bed, put on comfortable clothes, down a big bowl of cereal, grab my backpack, and head out for work. I enter a tree-lined path where the air is fresh, and this time of year birds are chirping, and I sometimes see rabbits, squirrels, geese, deer, and on one occasion, a fox. There is no warming up, no scraping, no foggy windows, no pumping gas, and no jockeying for position on I-40; for I am one of the lucky ones. I bike to work.

This started about 10 years ago, when the American Tobacco Trail was newly completed. On a Saturday ride downtown, stopped at an intersection, I looked down Martin Luther King Boulevard and realized that it just might be possible to piece together a relatively safe bike route to my workplace in RTP. A day later I tried it, and it was feasible – a 7 mile, 40 minute ride that was mostly off-road.

This was all good, but there were other considerations. I needed a place to shower and change at work. Fortunately, there was a little-used shower room adjacent to the men’s’ room where I work. I was in business!

Well, yada yada yada, 10 years later, and I’m still biking to work. My employer, GSK, graciously provides a fitness center where I can shower and change and store clothes. Bike lanes have been added, and with the new ATT bridge over I40, I can now cruise anywhere from downtown Durham to Wake County on a dedicated bike trail. Each year I look forward to the Bike Week events in Durham, the Tarwheels Bikefest ride in Hillsborough, the MS Bike weekend in New Bern, and the CBES Between the Waters Bike Tour on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.

Are there downsides?  Yes – SAFETY. I avoid traffic but am still vulnerable to distracted drivers. This is why I ride with a colorful jersey, a flag, and a slo-mo triangle. I resolved to be more visible after a close call one day at an intersection, where I pulled out at the end of a green light and cars came at me from both directions.

The other big downside is weather, and we certainly had our share of it this winter. One day was so cold my vision clouded up in one eye. The ophthalmologist said the outer layer of cells in my cornea had frozen, and that it would gradually clear up. He recommended eye drops and goggles.

Am I glad I to be a bike-commuter?  You bet I am. As long as my luck holds out, I’ll keep at it. It’s healthy, relieves stress, and saves gas, money, and the environment. My daily workout is built into my schedule, so it saves time too. I miss it on the rare days that I cannot do it. Clearly, I am hooked.






Fortify Friday: Don’t do it. Just don’t.

Last week, I was on my way to work when another car almost side-swiped me out of my lane.  I had to have been in their blind spot, I thought, trying to steady my pulse. There’s no way they could have seen me. I chalked it up to a bad rear-view mirror and continued on my way, until the same car began to drift dangerously close to me again. I beeped my horn and merged into another lane to pass them. Are they trying to kill me? I wondered. I shot a glance at the driver’s seat. Who is this person?

I couldn’t tell because their face was pointed down. Staring at their phone.

We’ve heard it time and time again: “Don’t text and drive.” “It can wait.” “Keep your eyes on the road.” We’ve seen the construction signs and impatiently tapped our hands on the wheel as the speed limit dropped to 15 miles slower. We’ve all been busy. We’ve all been running late.

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and this week is National Work Zone Awareness Week. With the Fortify Project stretching along one of the busiest sections of I-40/440, driver safety and awareness is even more crucial. Still, not everyone has chosen a hands-free commute, and it’s easy to get distracted on the road. You may be stuck in traffic and decide to text your boss to let them know. You may decide to glance at this weekend’s weather. Your sister may be beating you at Words with Friends. You may think it will only take a second, but more could happen in that second than you realize.

(Warning: video contains graphic content)


For those who might find the above video melodramatic or an exaggeration, listen up: over 25% of all crashes in 2012  can be attributed to distracted driving.  An estimated 3,328 people were killed and 421,000 injured in those crashes. In 2010, there were 514 fatal motor vehicle crashes in work zones alone, resulting in 576 fatalities.workzone_awareness That equates to one work zone fatality every 15 hours (1.6 a day)

The stats are more than a little sobering, especially when you consider that there are 11.5 miles of the Beltline to rebuild and in May 2013, around 110,000 drivers traveled through the designated Fortify work zone daily. That’s plenty of opportunity for distractions in a situation where every second your eyes are off the road counts against you.

So this month, stay alert and stay safe – not only for you, but for your fellow drivers and the construction workers trying to make our roads better.

Take the National Safety Council pledge to drive cell free. Tweet about it using #DDAM (Distracted Driving Awareness Month). And most importantly, the next time you’re driving and find yourself reaching for your phone…don’t do it.

Just don’t.

– Grace

Greenlights: April 2014 Issue


Welcome to the April issue of GreenLights!

GreenLights is your newsletter highlighting the outstanding employers and commuters across the Triangle. We’re happy to present new encouraging examples of smart commuting and how a company can stand behind a strong commuter benefits program.

Please let us know if you are interested in being featured. Email us at

Traffic Greenlight: Fortify Options

FORTIFY_Logo_CMYKIf you are traveling to Durham, Chapel Hill, Raleigh, RTP or other locales in the western part of the Triangle during the morning using I-40, I-440 or Hwy 70, consider the impact of the Fortify road construction project on your commute.  Fortify is a three year long road construction project to repave an 11.5 mile stretch of the beltline. Check out the new for more details.  Motorist in the Triangle are already beginning to feel the  impact. Increased traffic jams and congestion along the construction corridor and alternative routes are causing commuter distress.  Longer, frustrating commutes into to work often lead to reduced productivity and higher stress even after the workday has begun.

By reducing the number of cars on the road, we reduce congestion and delays.  This improves the air we breathe and results in less traffic with quicker, easier commutes. Consider some new, realistic options.  Try a carpool, vanpool or ride the bus just once – you may find that you really enjoy the benefits. Save the environment and save money. You may know a neighbor or someone that lives close by or even someone who travels your same route to work. Reach out to them; ride together once or twice a week and you’ll still see savings in your stops at the local gas station.

Also, consider a Triangle Transit van. A vanpool is very similar to a carpool. It is a group of seven to twelve people who lease a vehicle from Triangle Transit and ride to and from work together. Unlike a carpool, everything is covered in a single monthly fee – gas, maintenance, insurance, etc.  If you need some help, go While you are there, sign up for the Emergency Ride Home program.  It is a free ride home anytime you choose to ride to work in a carpool, vanpool, bus, bike or walk and have a family emergency, unscheduled overtime or get sick at work. If you prefer to talk to a person instead of using a website call Liston Peoples at 919 485-7574 for personal assistance finding a carpool or a vanpool match.

As you can see, there are several ways to reduce the stress and frustration related to your daily commute.  Of course, you can listen to some music or a program will help soothe your nerves; but nothing takes away the time and frustration of sitting, looking at your fellow motorists’ license plates and watching the time tick by because of an accident or congestion. Consider joining a carpool, a vanpool or taking the bus.  Need some navigating the Fortify construction area, go to If you’d like for someone to come to your workplace to give an overview of the project, talk to employees one on one during lunch or breaks or come to a community event contact Kim Johnson at (phone) or (use the Fortify email address) for free events at your location and informative materials your employees.

Company Greenlight: Wake County

Wake County has been consistently recognized as a top employer and the County ranks as one of the best places to work and live in numerous publications year after year.  On their website,, they tout the fact that Wake County “employs approximately 3,800 employees, [and] has experienced minimal turnover for the last five years.” So why so little turn over when the news is touting decreasing employee loyalty as the common trend?  Of course we are sure it can’t all be their commuter benefits program, but we would like to think it plays a part.

For many years now, Wake County Government has featured a robust commuter benefits program, offering GoPass, vanpool subsidies, flex-time (all available, only if applicable). Jerry Murdaugh at Wake County Human Resources is always helpful in getting employees outfitted with a GoPass to ride the bus, getting them situated in a vanpool, encouraging employees sign up for the free Emergency Ride Home program, helping out with organizing on-site events with Capital Area Transit and /or Triangle Transit to share educational materials and presentations and more.  With Jerry’s help we recently completed a few educational sessions focusing on the Fortify I-40/440 road construction project and found some fantastic testimonials from Wake County employees who ride the bus.  Wake County does an excellent job promoting vanpooling and carpooling as viable commuting options by having information readily available to find matches through the statewide carpool web site, Share the Ride NC.

Thank you Jerry, and thanks Wake County Government in helping to reduce traffic congestion in the Triangle – which makes everyone’s ride to work a little quicker and less stressful.  Your efforts are commendable.  If you would like assistance setting up commuter benefits for your employees, please contact your local employer outreach coordinator.

Commuter Greenlight: In the Knit of Time

Melanie Kincaid was the Golden Ticket winner in last year’s Golden Mode Award.  Almost every day Melanie Kincaid does what so many say they are going to “try”.  She leaves her car at home and rides the bus to work. While understanding how difficult it is to get past that first hurdle to just give it a try, she talked about using transit and began taking the bus as soon as an express service was started nearby. That was almost three years ago.  She is undeterred by weather conditions and walks ¾ mile to the bus stop in her neighborhood.   Melanie takes an express route bus that is approximately 10 miles with no connections into downtown Raleigh.  With regular ridership, Melanie and the other commuters share life stories and recipes as well as friendship.  Melanie knits on the bus, engaging others in the excitement of the project.  What a wonderful use of time!  Melanie says, “I just try to encourage people generally to take public transportation, as it saves on the aggravation of driving in traffic, and it offers an opportunity to do something positive for the environment. “   She also shares how relaxing the bus ride is at the end of the day.   “The time on the bus feels like down time between work and the busyness of home. “

Melanie encourages others to check their area for a convenient bus route.  If you need some help, she would encourage you to call 919 485-7433 (RIDE) to speak with a live person who can walk you through the process or check out your trip online.


Finding it hard to #GoLove a long commute? Here’s one way to make it better:

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In recent years, more and more studies have shown that commuting has an impact on a person’s physical and mental well-being. A 2010 Gallup survey found that “one in three employees with a commute of more than 90 minutes say they have had a neck or back condition that has caused recurrent pain in the past 12 months.” If you Google the keywords “long commute back pain,” you’ll find alarming articles with titles like “Your Commute is Killing You,” “A Commuter’s Guide to Solving Your Bad Back,” and “Long Commutes are Sucking the Life Out of You.” Swedish researchers have even found that couples in which one partner commutes for longer than 45 minutes are 40 percent likelier to divorce.

So how do we avoid these impacts on our health and relationships? Changing your commute would be the simple answer. However, not all of us have the option to live closer to work or to telecommute. NBC suggest five ways to have a healthier commute if you’re stuck in the car, but we have a sixth option: give your back some relief with a day at the spa.

As one of this year’s #GoLove scavenger hunt sponsors, Flawless Day Spa is offering a free couple’s massage and facial package for one #GoLove winner and a friend. I paid a visit to their tranquil Chapel Hill location to tour the spa and find out more about their approach to relaxation and wellness. The owner, Wendy, has created a beautiful, calm space and the staff was extremely knowledgeable. Click through the slideshow above to see photos from our visit and get a better sense of the Flawless Day Spa atmosphere!

Our #GoLove scavenger hunt ends Friday, so if you would like to win a day at the spa, be sure to find the latest #GoLove scavenger hunt clue on one of our GoTriangle social media sites:

Good luck scavenger hunt sleuths,