By Derek Hofbauer, TDM Specialist, Alta Planning + Design
I work in Alta’s Programs Team. That means my job is to help people bike, walk, and take transit more often all around North America. But…what about our colleagues at Alta? Could they use some help too?
This was the question that led us to create Go Alta. Go Alta is our first Alta-specific program to encourage Alta staff – no matter what office they’re in – to walk, bike, share rides, and take transit more often.
First, we needed to learn a little more about why some of our colleagues were driving to work, and what help we could offer them. We sent out a survey to all employees and learned that most staff agree that Alta’s mission to create active communities was very much a part of their decision to work for Alta, and that it has encouraged them to use travel options more frequently. Our professional graphic designers then helped us make a beautiful brochure that highlighted Alta’s many transportation benefit programs, and also how biking, walking, and using transit can help our colleagues stay healthy and stress-free.
Though Go Alta is just getting started, our main goal is to provide staff with the right combination of tools and resources to make better-informed travel decisions. Tote bags full of local transportation information will be soon be available to all employees, including incentives such as bike lights and umbrellas. Go Alta is a win-win for Alta and its employees – staff learn about Alta’s generous wellness, transit, and bike benefits while becoming healthier from using active transportation. It’s also an opportunity for planners, designers, and engineers to experience local pedestrian, bicycle, and transit facilities from a user perspective – which helps us do our jobs better.
What We Learned
The main goal of the survey was to learn how our colleagues are getting to work today. That helps us figure out what help is needed, and also helps us set a benchmark to figure out if we are helping people change their behavior. We asked people about satisfaction with bike commuting, support for active wellness benefits, and barriers and benefits to using transportation options. The survey also identified staff that needed updated information and/or personalized assistance (e.g., a bike buddy) for using travel options. The Go Alta survey was conducted in February, 2016 and achieved a response rate of nearly 90%! (We wish we got that high a response rate in our SmartTrips programs…)
When asked how they get to work, 40% of Alta staff said they bicycle, and 23% said they take transit. If you assumed everyone at Alta biked to work, you will be surprised to learn that 21% of our colleagues drive to work. We were also impressed to learn that 10% of staff walk to work (go walking!). This mode split might be good in another context, but we feel that we can do better at Alta, given our mission to create active communities.
We also asked our colleagues how they get around when they’re not commuting to work. We learned that for non-commute trips like errands, shopping, and recreation, 32% drive alone, 22% walk, 21% bicycle, and 18% carpool. It is great to see that Alta staff really “walk the talk” and use many different kinds of transportation.
When asked about the personal benefits of bike commuting, the top three reasons Alta staff mentioned were: 1) increasing physical activity, 2) developing a better understanding of bike infrastructure, and 3) lowering stress levels. Biking to work clearly has many benefits!
We learned that 95% of Alta staff take advantage of the active wellness stipend and annual bicycle tune-up benefits offered through Human Resources. We also discovered that 96% of staff said Alta’s mission to create active communities was part of their decision to work for Alta, and that 62% say working at Alta has encouraged them to use travel options more frequently.
The Go Alta survey provided unique opportunities for staff to weigh in about their transportation needs and concerns, as well as provide important feedback regarding satisfaction with active wellness benefits, bike commuting, and end-of-trip facilities. The customized Go Alta materials will help employees discover even more ways to get around without a car. Whether commuting to the office or heading to the farmer’s market on a weekend, Alta employees are committed to using sustainable modes of transportation. We look forward to supporting them into the future!