GreenLights: May 2014 Edition

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

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