Posts filed under ‘Events’

Throwing Down the Gauntlet – businesses challenge each other for Way 2 GO MAINE!

“Make your commutes count October 1st-21st!” was the rallying cry of the Way 2 GO MAINE Commuter Challenge this past month. Cushman Transportation Consulting, LLC was thrilled to co-develop and deliver Maine’s first ever business-to-business challenge with GO MAINE, the statewide commuter assistance program.

Way 2 GO MAINE was a three week, build-a-new-habit campaign – creating friendly competition between organizations across the state to see how many employees could walk, bike, take the bus or train or carpool to work. It was also a way to celebrate those activities, reward folks who are already out there doing them and inspire other Mainers to do the same!

The three week, build-a-new-habit campaign engaged team champions for each employer who offered simple encouragement to their fellow employees and posted photos and videos on social media with the hashtag Way2GOMAINE.

Participating employees logged their trips, received incentives and watched their workplace zoom up the leaderboard.

Organizations competed for:

  • most greener transportation trips recorded
  • most new GO MAINE members
  • and most team spirit!

Stalwart allies like the Bicycle Coalition of Maine started signing employees up early with campaign pledge cards and posting them at the office.

We had a great time with the kick off of the campaign at local large employer UNUM on Monday the 2nd! It was inspiring to speak with staff there – some who already bike or carpool to work and others who are curious about trying the bus or other green commutes.

We designed and distributed event materials and swag and had fun seeing some folks in action when it worked to drop them off in person.

Workplaces offered their own rewards, too. For example, the City of Portland gave out gift cards to top participating employees as part of its City Fit! program. And MEMIC offered $250 to the first 10 employees who signed up for a bus pass or carpool parking in October and gave up a drive-alone parking space – and boy did employees take them up on it.

Maybe the best part was the fun and inspiration everyone shared via photos and videos. Happy commutes all around! Here’s a sampling:

And not to be missed are these fabulous videos:

Now, for the winners! All winning organizations were awarded a donation made in their name to one of three organizations of their choice that help improve air quality: American Lung Association, Arbor Day Foundation, and the Audubon Society.

We had a great time distributing awards to the winners and Rebecca Grover of GO MAINE even presented me with a Most Awesome Consultant Award. We had a blast working together and are looking forward our next go at it.

If you participated in Way 2 GO MAINE, please complete this quick survey (takes less than 5 minutes) to help us make it even better next year!

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November 10, 2017 at 2:30 pm Leave a comment

Carpool Love

A version of this column was published in the Maine Sunday Telegram’s Source section.

Most of us know the benefits of carpooling. Sharing rides cuts our household transportation costs. That’s significant when almost 20% of individual income goes to own just one vehicle. Carpooling also reduces our greenhouse gas and other vehicle emissions. However, the most important benefit may be that carpooling makes us happier: strengthening our human connections, reducing stress and building community resiliency.

My grandmother’s first cousin, Frances Burgess, passed away this summer at age 96; she had a sweet sense of humor and was one of my all-time family favorites. She also was a carpooler.

Frances and her husband raised their family in a small cape in the midst of farmland in Saco. They had one car and worked staggered shifts at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. When Frances headed to work she left her two daughters in the care of her mother and carpooled with a group of neighbors. She was tickled by the friends she made and stories she heard over the years riding together. There were more men in the carpool than women, she explained, and it was a unique opportunity for friendships in an era when time with the opposite gender was rarer.

I talked recently with Ben Connors who lives in Hampden and works in Pittsfield and carpools the hour and a half every day with his colleague Jeff (their photo at right). “We share the cost of the car – the wear and tear and gas – so that’s a direct benefit. But you also get to unwind with your co-worker at the end of the day,” Ben said. “You can talk about what you’re working on and they offer a different perspective on things. By the time you’ve gotten home you’ve gotten all that stuff off your chest.”

I connected with Ben because I met his former rideshare buddy, Rachel Porter, at a work event last fall. Rachel and Ben carpooled to work for three years before she recently moved and she shared similar thoughts about the benefits of ridesharing.

“My new commute still takes half an hour and I would definitely carpool again,” Rachel said in a recent interview. “I also miss it during bad weather – having someone else looking at everything going on around you when you’re concentrating so hard on the road in front of you.”

Carpooling like Frances did and Ben does used to be far more commonplace in Maine and around the country, when most families owned only one car or none at all. It took some Yankee ingenuity to make things work and get where you needed to go.

Maine is primarily a rural state – the most rural in the country according the 2010 U.S. Census, based on the number of communities with populations less than 2500. Many Mainers would like access to public transportation but the spread out-nature of our homes and towns decreases the viability of strong transit networks with frequent service.

Years ago, I remember a staff person from the GO MAINE statewide commuter assistance program showing a WWII era Uncle Sam carpooling propaganda poster and saying, “The best option for public transportation many of us have are the empty seats in our cars.” That’s still right.

Carpooling trends have decreased over time. Households started buying more cars in the 1950 and, by the new millenium, almost half of car-owning families had two or more vehicles and more than 90 percent of American households had at least one.

Carpooling peaked in 1980 at the end of the Middle East oil crises. At that time almost 20% of Americans shared rides to work. Now it’s a little less than 10%. About 9% of Mainers carpool. (Of note: people working in construction have some of the highest rideshare rates.)

Many of us don’t carpool because we think it won’t work for us. “I have kids to pick up, I have to run errands after work, I just want some peace and quiet, what if my aging parent suddenly needs me?” Or maybe we tried it once back in 1992 and it didn’t work for one reason or another. If either of these scenarios speak to you, I say give it a(nother) try.

It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Broach the subject with a co-worker to experiment for a couple weeks. Ask a neighbor who is going your way to try it for one or two days a week instead of every day.

gomaine-logo.jpgIf you don’t know anyone making a similar trip, do the quick sign-up and try out GO MAINE’s recently revamped and state-of-the-art ridematching service. It shows photos and profiles of people who live near you or who commute to near your destination.

“It’s like Match.com for carpoolers,” said Rebecca Grover, the Program Coordinator, during a recent conversation.

GO MAINE also offers rewards to those who log their trips walking to work, bicycling, using public transportation and carpooling. And if you use a smartphone, all this has just become easier with the new GO MAINE app.

One of the best parts of being an active GO MAINE member is the Emergency Ride Home Benefit. It’s a free taxi ride with a registered taxi company or Enterprise Rent-a-Car home in the event there’s a family crisis, you get unscheduled overtime or have another unforeseen workday emergency.

Think about rides in your personal life that you can share, too, if you don’t already. Carpooling with other people’s kids to soccer practice, sharing a ride to a community meeting or your place of worship.

If you’re hosting an event, consider using something like groupcarpool.com to enable folks to share rides. It’s a national app and online service specifically designed for one-time occasions. It’s free for an event with up to 50 participants and charges $10 for an event of up to 500 participants, with no registration or fee required for attendees. That’s an attractive and low-barrier option for people to try. Plus there’s no better ice-breaker for a conference or other occasion than for participants to have already built community before they even arrive.

Enough of the nuts and bolts though. Moral of the column: carpool and live to 96. It’s that simple.

More Suggestions

  • Dip your toe in via October’s Way 2 GO MAINE business-to-business commuter challenge! Businesses and organizations across the state are encouraged to pit their workplace against others for how many of their employees carpool, bicycle, use transit or rail, or walk to work. During this 21-day campaign participating employees log their trips, receive incentives and compete for the most green trips, most new GO MAINE members and most team spirit! Log your trips if you’re already a GO MAINE member or join at org (Full disclosure: I’ve been hired as a consultant to help with the campaign.)
  • For some fun carpool love, check out James Corden’s carpool karaoke videos from The Late Late Show. It’s hard to watch only one!

 

October 3, 2017 at 10:14 am Leave a comment

April 29, June 3 & 4: Your Chance to Feel Confident Riding a Bike in Traffic!

Cycling Savvy courses offered in Maine for riders of all abilities are NOT to be missed! Here are more on offerings this spring and early summer. The initial classroom session, Truths & Techniques of Traffic Riding, is scheduled for Saturday April 29, from 9 AM to Noon. The full course (all 3 sessions) is also scheduled for Saturday, June 3 and Sunday afternoon June 4. Register now.

Here’s more perspective on the 3-part course from the fabulous John Brooking:

Do you like the idea of biking more for transportation, but are scared of traffic? You’re not alone!

Many people would like to ride more, but cite traffic as their #1 concern. How can riding in traffic be safe?

CyclingSavvy is a course designed to help cyclists understand how to make safe riding possible. Through knowledge and guided practice, we can turn anyone who knows how to stay upright on a bike into a savvy bicyclist who can operate in any traffic situation with confidence.

Our classroom session includes:

  • The foundational principles of traffic movement
  • What the law allows and doesn’t allow for bicyclists
  • Common crash types and how to avoid them
  • Strategies for common and less common situations

All this in just 3 hours of classroom instruction, costing $45. No bike required.

Are your bike handling skills a little shaky?

Next, we progress to a parking-lot based session, where you can practice such skills as using your brakes and gears, “training your bike” to give you more confidence in its physical operation. This is a useful session even if you are only interesting in riding on off-road paths. You may take this session whether or not you’ve already taken the classroom.

This session is also 3 hours and $45.

Putting It All Together

Once you have taken both the classroom and skills sessions, we put everything together in a group bike Tour of Portland. You get to practice what you’ve learned in a series of real-world locations, with your instructor’s guidance, and your new friends cheering you on. It is not a test, there are no grades; just you proving to yourself that you got this!

If you sign up for all 3 sessions together — classroom, skills, and Tour — you get everything for $95, $40 savings from 3 individual sessions.

Questions? Send them to johnbrooking4@gmail.com. Register here.

April 21, 2017 at 4:41 pm Leave a comment

March 30 Workshop: Strengthening Towns Through Great Streets

Come on out for an exciting new workshop on March 30th – Strengthening Towns Through Great Streets: innovative approaches for municipal leaders! You can register here now.

Cushman Transportation Consulting, LLC is a steering committee member of the Public Health in Transportation Coalition and is co-sponsoring an interactive and inspiring summit for (and featuring) local appointed and elected municipal leaders and staff – and other interested stakeholders:

GREAT STREETS POSTER PNG

 

IMG_1526 (2)We know that a strong economy depends on strong towns and cities. To get there, we need to share innovative ideas and approaches to addressing the challenges we face.

This is a free event where you can share your ideas and learn from other local leaders about smart, home-grown solutions to transportation challenges. 

Morning snacks and lunch will be served. For more information and to register, see event page here and parking and transportation map here.

March 1, 2016 at 10:58 am Leave a comment

Get to Worship Another Way: marketing alternate transit to congregations

Bless local photographer and Portland Green Streets board member, Corey Templeton, (also of Portland Daily Photo fame) for all the design work he did for us over the years!

Circa 2010 – bless local photographer and Portland Green Streets board member, Corey Templeton, (also of Portland Daily Photo fame) for all the design work he did for us over the years!

While serving as the director of Portland Greens Streets a few years ago, I helped organize an annual community-wide Get to Worship a Greener Way Weekend and associated Blessing of the Bicycles, in conjunction with Maine’s Commute Another Way Week in May. While there is often traffic getting to the synagogue or mosque on Friday evenings, car travel is much lighter on Saturdays and Sundays – so getting to worship a greener way seemed like a strange pitch to make.

However, from my experience with folks of various faiths and practices and through my Quaker meeting, I know that people heading to services are taking stock of their lives and their actions. And a number of folks are often already carpooling because of mobility needs, too. So it’s a great time to engage folks in trying alternate ways of getting around.  (Disclaimer: you don’t have to be a part of any organized religion to do the same thing. 🙂 )

PFM Route 2 FlierThis week I got to do a new little plug along the same vein, by producing and distributing a flier encouraging my home congregation, Portland Friends Meeting, to use METRO’s new Sunday service to get to worship. It’s not so new – METRO was able to start Sunday service on all it’s routes in August (previously it was only offered on a couple).  As a one-car family, one of us often has to bike separately to get to an earlier meeting on Sunday morning or some other event.  Biking isn’t a bad way to start the day and we’re lucky to not have mobility or other issues – except when the roads are slick in winter, rain is falling heavily, etc. Either way, Sunday service is a real boon to local congregations and folks who just would like to be out and about and getting somewhere on any given Sunday. Thanks for making it possible, METRO!

 

 

December 11, 2015 at 6:45 am Leave a comment

Walk With Me: Maine’s first USDOT Road Safety Audit

Anthony Foxx

USDOT Secretary Anthony Foxx is sworn in – July 2013.

Anthony Foxx, the Secretary of the US Department of Transportation, reported he was hit by a car while jogging through an intersection a while back. Some say that’s part of why he announced a special bicycle and pedestrian safety initiative last September to do, among other things, road safety assessments in every state.

Photo by Wayne Emington

Photo by Wayne Emington

In early April, after much planning, a number of local and regional transportation and mobility experts conducted the state’s first ever Bicycle and Pedestrian Road Safety Audits (RSAs) – these ones along the Route 1 Corridor between Tukey’s Bridge in Portland and the intersection with Route 88 in Falmouth.

Photo by Sue Moreau

Photo by Sue Moreau

The corridor was chosen because of its importance linking communities and also because of several dicey bicycle and pedestrian segments.  These include:

  • Tukey’s Bridge bike-pedestrian limitations and connectivity concerns
  • the Veranda Street and Washington Avenue intersection
  • the I-295 on and off ramps in East Deering onto Veranda Street
  • integration of the existing Martin’s Point Bridge multi-use path with facilities on either end of the bridge
  • confusion and conflicts at the Route 88 intersection.

Bike RSA coverThe process was convened by Wayne Emington, a thoughtful transportation engineer with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) here in Maine and was led by Bill DeSantis, a bicycle & pedestrian engineering specialist at VHB – a firm I work with as on-call bike-pedestrian consultants to the Portland Comprehensive Transportation System (PACTS – ah, the acronym soup). Bill helped created the federal Bicycle Road Safety Audit guide and has assisted other communities with conducting RSAs.

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Photo by Sue Moreau

I led one of the Pedestrian Audit walkabout groups from Tukey’s Bridge to the Martin’s Point Bridge, which included Veranda Street and, among other things, Safe Routes to School concerns for the Presumpscot School.  We had a great team consisting of Jill Johanning, an ADA and mobility expert from Alpha One/Access Design; Meredith Graham from VHB, a traffic engineer with special expertise in signage and traffic signals (great for the Veranda Street and Washington Avenue intersection); Sue Moreau, the the Director of Multimodal Planning with MaineDOT, and Paul Legozzo from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Photo by Wayne Emington

Photo by Wayne Emington

Patrick Adams, the MaineDOT Bicycle & Pedestrian Program Manager led the other pedestrian group to assess the north end of the section we were looking at, from Martin’s Point Bridge to the Route 88 intersection.  And Nancy Grant of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine led the Bicycle Audit group along the entire length of the corridor.

It was a cold morning, although we were grateful the snow was mostly gone – and in the process we came up with a detailed list of needed improvements and also some targeted suggestions.  PACTS is working on a Martin’s Point Shared Use Path Feasibility Study which this work will inform as well.  It was also a great chance to build relationships with new folks and hear different perspectives (which is also part of the USDOT’s intention in conducting these RSAs).  You can see FHWA’s initial summary, details on who else participated, and more photos here.

April 22, 2015 at 9:48 pm Leave a comment

The Walking School Bus Meets the Portland Children’s Film Festival

Written for the Maine Walking School Bus Program.

WSB Film ShotLast Friday, the East End Community School’s (EECS) Walking School Bus Program teamed up with the Portland Children’s Film Festival for a showing of one of their films, On the Way to School – which tracks four groups of children in four far-flung locations as they each set off on impossibly long, arduous and sometimes life threatening journeys to attend class in distant schoolhouses.

Students Fartun & Jolisa introduce the filmsThe Walking School Bus (WSB) students were responsible for introducing On the Way to School and started by sharing a short volunteer-created film of their own on-the-way-to school experience via the Walking School Bus.  What a great piece that really captures the program!

To get to the event, volunteers walked with the WSB students from school to the library downtown. In addition to introducing the films, WSB students thanked program funders (Center for Disease Control, Bicycle Coalition of Maine, Maine Department of Transportation) and others (volunteers who share the walk with the students each day, the filmmaker (Terrence Wolfe) etc.) publicly.  A number of volunteer Walk Leaders were in the audience and the WSB students had them stand for applause, then invited participating students and Terry the filmmaker to stand as well.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESOn their walk with volunteers back home to the East End, students shared their excitement about their experience.

The Portland Children’s Film Festival also showed the Walking School Bus video at the Young Filmmaker’s Contest Red Carpet event on Thursday night and then at the Nickelodeon Cinema on Sunday – even though it wasn’t an official entry because it was not specifically student-led/driven.  So it was a wonderful surprise to see it up on the big screens as well!

March 31, 2015 at 4:05 pm Leave a comment

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