Green Commuting Handbook by lonyoo


									Green Commuting Handbook

         A Workplace Guide to:
Increase productivity, job satisfaction & reduce absenteeism
               Increase employee retention
                   Reduce parking costs
            Reduce greenhouse gas emissions

                      Produced by:

 303 Portage Ave, 3rd Floor, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 2B4
            Tel: 925-3772      Fax: 942-4207
           Green Commuting: Beyond the Commuter Challenge

How can Resource Conservation Manitoba help your workplace extend Green
Commuting beyond the Commuter Challenge?

RCM provides a number of services…

(1)       Online resources:

      •    Green Commuting Handbook
      •    Sample Commuting Survey
      •    How to Build Support
      •    Setting Goals
      •    Information on Green Commuting Modes
      •    Creating a Green Commute Plan
      •    Rolling Out the Plan
      •    Evaluating Your Plan
      •    Green Commute Resources (such as 10 Step Green Commute
           Plan, Benefits of Green Commuting, Case Studies)

(2) Green Commuting Display - available for loan to workplaces on a short-term basis

(3) Presentations – brown bag lunch presentations, newsletter articles on Green
      Commuting or specific modes of travel (bike, walk, transit, carpool)

(4) Individual Trip Planning – individual trip planning service for employees delivered
    by RCM staff or choose to ‘train-a-trainer’ at your workplace (fee for service basis
    - call for details)

If your workplace would like to borrow the Green Commuting Display, arrange a
presentation or meet to brainstorm how to develop and implement Green Commuting
initiatives, give us a call!

           Beth McKechnie
           Green Commuting Initiatives, Workplace Trip Reduction
           Tel: (204) 925-3772

           Resource Conservation Manitoba
           303 Portage Ave, 3rd Flr
           Winnipeg, MB R3B 2B4
Why a Green Commuting Handbook?
Workplaces impact individual employee commuting choices through the provision (or lack) of
car and bicycle parking; company policies such as dress codes, flex time and requests to
telecommute; safety issues related to overtime; and wellness programs to address employee

In other words, workplaces are already dealing with issues related to commuting, but often
without a formal strategy or a framework for responding effectively. Creating a strategy for
green commuting can support a whole series of human resources issues and make them work for
the workplace and its employees.

Benefits from promoting green commuting include:

       Increased productivity, reduced absenteeism and longer employee retention (loyalty)
       from the wellness-related benefits of active transportation
       Reduced costs for on-site parking facilities when more employees choose green
       commuting options
       Improved morale for those employees who carpool, take transit, walk or cycle and who
       feel their needs are being accommodated
       Improved environmental stewardship, particularly for workplaces that are enrolled in the
       Voluntary Challenge and Registry program for managing greenhouse gas emissions
       Enhanced image and profile in the community
       After-tax cost savings for employees

Because managers are busy, this handbook is designed to be a quick guide. Depending on
location and other characteristics of the workplace, not all options may be relevant to your
workplace. Workplaces may prefer to emphasize certain measures over others or to phase-in
measures over time. Some workplaces may need to set the goals for green commuting before
recruiting the key players; in others, the culture of the workplace may first necessitate
widespread involvement. The handbook introduces topic areas for opportunity and action, and
lists resources available. In assembling the handbook, we have drawn from the work of other
organizations elsewhere in Canada and the United States, and our own experience over the last
three years.

The Green Commuting Initiatives program at Resource Conservation Manitoba (RCM) is
available to assist workplaces that are interested in developing a green commuting plan. Call our
staff at 925-3772 or check out our website at

           Green Commuting Handbook / Resource Conservation Manitoba / page 1
What’s the issue and what’s the plan?
1. Understanding the issue and seeing the opportunities

   The first step is to describe the commuting characteristics of the workplace. Conduct a
   survey to determine the travel patterns at your workplace, and to identify the barriers and
   opportunities of green commuting.

   How many people drive alone to work and where are they coming from? How many carpool,
   take the bus, walk or cycle? How many employees would change their mode if offered
   incentives like a transit pass subsidy, a guaranteed ride home for carpoolers who have to
   work late, or safe cycling courses? These sorts of questions need to be answered by the
   employees in the form of a survey, which will provide the baseline data of current
   commuting habits and test attitudes towards changes that you might want to introduce.

   Other information should be gathered about: (1) the availability of on-site or nearby facilities
   such as showers and lockers for cyclists, inline skaters and walkers to use; (2) transit service;
   (3) parking availability for both cars and bicycles, cost (and subsidy) and policies; (4)
   common trips made by employees for work purposes; (5) company vehicles and use; and (6)
   personal vehicle use for company purposes, reimbursement terms and arrangements. All of
   these contribute to the commuting characteristics of the workplace and impact on the
   individual employee decision whether to drive alone or green commute.

   Bundle together all of the issues related to commuting, whether they are the purview of a
   particular department or are traditionally regarded as employer responsibilities. You need a
   clear and complete picture to make your Green Commuting Plan.

      Resource Conservation Manitoba has a sample Green Commuting Survey that can be
      used as a template to create a survey specific to your workplace (see Get Resources at:

2. Getting approvals/getting key people involved

   This may vary depending on the workplace. The key players are usually Human Resources
   Managers, Environmental Officers, Facilities Managers, Public Affairs or Communications
   and Marketing staff, and Union Representatives. If telework or telecommuting (working
   from home more than two days per week using Internet, phone and fax to communicate with
   co-workers) is something being considered, you may want to include Information
   Technology personnel.

   Often the best champions for creating a company Green Commuting Plan are co-workers
   who already cycle to work or use some other green commuting mode and who are willing to
   commit personally. A core group that is interested in green commuting, personally or
   professionally, can bring together an advisory team that covers the other areas.

          Green Commuting Handbook / Resource Conservation Manitoba / page 2
   You may need to seek the approval of a Management Group. Approval in principle is the
   first step. As you develop a plan, you may need financial and other approvals.

      Other resources:
      Noble, Duncan. “Cool Business Guide: Lower Costs, Higher Productivity and Climate
      Change Solutions,” Pembina Institute for Appropriate Development, March 2001.

      Nicholson, Phillip J. “Walk and Roll: A Guide to Active Transportation To, From and at
      the Workplace,” Canadian Council for Health and Active Living at Work, 1998.

3. Setting the Goals for your Green Commuting Plan

   For the purpose of this guide, it is assumed that a workplace will want to reduce the number
   of cars coming to the workplace, but depending on workplace priorities the specific goals
   might be different. For example, a workplace that is enrolled in the Voluntary Challenge and
   Registry Program for climate change prevention may want to emphasize climate change
   awareness and create a strategy based on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. A workplace
   that is interested in motivating its work force and achieving an improved level of physical
   fitness may want to emphasize active modes of transportation like cycling and walking. A
   workplace that is hoping to solve a headache with employee parking may emphasize parking
   management and carpooling. You need to determine your priorities and set the specific goals
   for your Green Commuting Plan.

   Managers and people recruited for your green commuting advisory team might already have
   specific issues they want to see addressed, possibly stemming from complaints they have
   received from employees or concerns they have as managers, that are seen as key priorities.
   An analysis of the survey responses and other site-specific research to profile the commuting
   characteristics of the workplace should also help to outline priority areas for action.

4. Making a Green Commuting Plan

   Once you have set your goals, you will need to make a plan to address the priority areas. The
   essential tools are:

      Education (i.e. providing seminars on types of green commuting, creating a transit and
      carpool information centre);
      Policy Improvements (i.e. dress code, flex time, parking, telecommuting);
      Facility Improvements (i.e. bike parking, showers and lockers);
      Incentives (i.e. Employer Sponsored Bus Pass Program).

   For each of the tools there are specific options that can be considered. RCM’s “Green
   Commuting Menu” provides an overview of these. RCM also designed “10 Steps to a

          Green Commuting Handbook / Resource Conservation Manitoba / page 3
   Workplace Green Commuting Plan” that can be used as a model. (Both are available online

      Other resources:
      “Commuter Options: The Complete Guide for Canadian Employers”, Transport Canada

      “Go Green Coordinator’s Guide,” BEST and Go Green Choices program.

5. Ideas and Resources for Green Commuting in Winnipeg

   a) Parking Management … Parking is a key area for a green commuting strategy since
   single occupancy vehicle commuters often cite free or inexpensive parking as the reason they
   drive rather than take public transit. Efforts to raise parking fees for existing lots are often
   met with a backlash of resentment. One way to introduce higher parking fees would be to use
   the increased revenue to subsidize bus passes. Another parking management idea could be to
   create a preference policy that favours carpoolers, either with a reduced parking charge or a
   premium spot closest to the door. Similarly, employees who voluntarily cycle half of the year
   could be allocated premium spots in winter. Some companies “buy-out” employee parking
   spots by offering a bus pass instead.

      Other resources:
      Litman, Todd. Pavement Busters Guide, Victoria Transport Policy Institute. (abstract and
      paper available for download from, 1998. (Includes Strategies to Reduce
      Road and Parking Demand.)

   b) Transit promotion … Depending on the location, public
   transit is the mode that most green commuters choose. There
   are several ideas for promoting transit use to a worksite, but
   the most effective is likely the EcoPass Employer Sponsored
   Bus Pass Program that Winnipeg Transit offers. RCM
   organized a “Bus It!” mini pilot program in mid winter 2001, in which 13 single occupancy
   vehicle users were given a free one-week bus pass in exchange for documenting their
   experience taking the bus to work for one week. RCM learned that cheap parking was a
   barrier to bus use, and that an employer subsidy of the bus fares to the same extent as parking
   would motivate those employees to take the bus instead.

   In some cases, workplaces have been able to convince Winnipeg Transit to place a transit
   shelter at the stop used by employees. You may be able to provide shelter in another way, as
   a signal that your workplace cares about the needs of transit users and values their
   commuting choice.

   Other measures for encouraging transit use include: flexible work schedules, transit
   information and passes sold on-site, promotion of the Navigo On-line Trip Planner to help

          Green Commuting Handbook / Resource Conservation Manitoba / page 4
identify bus routes, and provision of bus tickets as an alternative to personal car use for work

   Other resources:
   Winnipeg Transit Web site:

c) Ridesharing…Carpooling can produce a substantial reduction in the number of cars
arriving at a workplace each day with a small amount of encouragement. At BC Tel’s (now
Telus) Burnaby headquarters (Greater Vancouver Regional District), 35% of employees
routinely engage in carpooling as part of a program that started in the early 1970s.

Carpooling on an informal level can work, but some coordination
and encouragement can help move it to the next level. Employers
can facilitate carpooling by matching participants, by providing a
guaranteed ride home (usually a taxi) for carpoolers that have to
work late or leave early for family emergencies, and by
providing priority parking spots.

   Other resources:
   Commuter Connections (, VivaCommute ( and
   Canadian Carpool Challenge ( are web-based ride-matching and
   information services.

d) Fitness and Wellness Promotion … If your workplace doesn’t have a fitness or wellness
centre that provides showers and lockers for active green commuters (walkers, cyclists), one
option is to explore a corporate arrangement with a nearby fitness centre or other workplace.

Alternatively, a subsidized gym membership for employees who pledge to cycle to work
could provide short-term access to showers and lockers where none is available currently.

e) Cycling … Workplaces can facilitate more cycling by providing facilities such as showers
and lockers, and secure bicycle parking (which is much less expensive to provide than car
                 parking). Providing bicycle parking is important because it sends a message
                 to employees that cycling is valued equally with driving.

                 Cyclists need a safe, secure place to store their bicycles. Ideally, the storage
                 area will be protected from the elements and allow for modern parking
                 racks. Old style bike racks with slots in which to place the wheels are
                 negatively viewed by cyclists as “wheel benders” and don’t allow for proper
                 locking mechanisms.

                 If your workplace is currently lacking in good bicycle parking, involve a
                 knowledgeable cyclist from the workplace in planning improvements.

A local company, Rackworks Bicycle Racking Systems (157 St. Anne’s Rd, Tel: 253-7225)
manufactures and sells several styles of ring racks for both outdoor and indoor use.

       Green Commuting Handbook / Resource Conservation Manitoba / page 5
Cycling education is another area for action in a Green Commuting Plan. Some would-be
commuter cyclists are hesitant about riding in rush hour traffic. Often, some basic education
about safe routes and a provision of a Winnipeg cycling map, available from the Manitoba
Cycling Association (MCA), will be enough to encourage someone to ride to work.

Another way for beginning commuter cyclists to become more comfortable is to enroll in a
bike buddy program. An informal version of the program could be started at your workplace
with experienced cyclists who could ride with new cyclists.

A workplace could help to ensure beginning commuter cyclists acquire all the safety and
other skills necessary to ride properly in rush hour situations by sponsoring a CAN-BIKE
course. The CAN-BIKE course is a combination of classroom and on-road instruction,
developing valuable urban traffic cycling skills for commuter cyclists. It is administered in
Manitoba by the MCA.

Properly functioning equipment can be the key to a safe, comfortable commute. Local
bicycle shops provide the services to ensure this. For example, Natural Cycle has everything
cyclists need to keep their bike in tip-top shape. They can also provide ideal commuting
bicycles made from refurbished components and they offer bicycling safety workshops.

Winnipeg cyclists can enjoy the convenience of biking partway and taking the bus partway
with the return of Transit's Bike & Bus program on Route 60 Pembina. There's no cost to use
the bike rack on the front of the buses. Just pay your regular transit fare and enjoy the ride.

   Other resources:
   A four page handout, “The Commuter Cyclist: Tips and resources to make cycling to
   work as easy as …riding a bike,” the “Cyclists Map of Winnipeg” and CAN-BIKE
   information are all available from: Manitoba Cycling Association, 200 Main Street,
   Winnipeg, R3C 4M2. Ph. 925-5686. Fax 925-5703. Email: Web:

   Natural Cycle, Lower Level B, 91 Albert Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, R3B 1G5,
   Ph / Fax: 957-5762, Email:, Web:

f) Telecommuting … Telecommuting is growing in popularity and has been piloted
successfully as part of a green commuting strategy at BC Hydro in Vancouver, and as a
strategy to avoid an expensive building expansion at ISM, a subsidiary of IBM based in
Winnipeg on Ellice Avenue. While the issues surrounding telecommuting are fairly complex
on their own and require research and careful planning, the potential benefits in terms of
productivity, space savings and prevention of harmful automobile emissions are enormous.
Excellent resources about telecommuting, also known as “telework,” are available from the
Canadian Telework Association web site: and at

       Green Commuting Handbook / Resource Conservation Manitoba / page 6
   g) Walking…Walking is an often under-reported mode of commuting. Many commuters
   “save” a walk for themselves by deliberately parking at a distance from their workplace and
   walking the remainder. Some get off the bus early to walk partway to
   their destination or choose to walk instead of transferring to a second
   bus. Others walk the entire distance between home and work as their
   primary mode of commuting. It is often seen as a means to relieve stress
   and improve health.

   Creating a walking club as part of wellness and fitness programming or
   matching up walking buddies could encourage even more people to vote
   with their feet. With the development of Winnipeg’s Riverwalk System,
   walking has become attractive and viable for more downtown

   Combine walking to work with daily Transit service using Winnipeg Transit's Navigo On-
   line Trip planner: The service gives
   walking times and distances to and from home and workplace bus stops.

      Other resources:
      “Winnipeg Walks,” Prairie Pathfinders, 2004. See

      Trans Canada Trail map showing the proposed route as it enters and leaves Winnipeg,
      Manitoba Recreational Trails Association. See

      Winnipeg Trails Association – online Winnipeg Trail Maps. See

6. Rolling out a Green Commuting Plan

   To roll out a green commuting strategy you will need to clearly communicate your goals, the
   activities you expect to undertake, and your expectations. As a principle of education and
   outreach, it is better to involve your target audience than to tell them what to do. As an initial
   step, participation in the Winnipeg Commuter Challenge (during the first full week of June
   each year) would send the message that your company is serious about making changes that
   are fun, positive and that connect with the community.

   Often workplaces motivate employees by involving a charity along with the activities. For
   instance, for each employee that participates in the Commuter Challenge, a workplace could
   commit to donate to an organization that promotes sustainable transportation. Or the
   company could commit to a similar contribution for each employee that gives up a parking
   spot to carpool or take transit or cycle.

   Another visible signal that something new is happening would be to establish a Commuter
   Information Centre in a visible location (or locations) within the workplace. This is where
   you can post notices about green commuting events such as seminars and workshops, a

          Green Commuting Handbook / Resource Conservation Manitoba / page 7
   Winnipeg Transit Systems Map and transit schedules relevant to your work site, a Cyclist’s
   Map of Winnipeg, and a Rideshare Board. Links to electronic versions can also be displayed
   prominently on the workplace Intranet home page.

   Small incentives and prizes also go a long way. The important consideration is the
   consistency of your message. If your workplace wants employees to leave their cars at home,
   that needs to be implicit in all of its policies and actions that affect commuting.

7. The Final Word

   Green Commuting can be fun! Most participants in green commuting programs report that
   they save money, are less stressed, more physically fit, and have greater job satisfaction as a
   result. They see themselves as beneficiaries of a green commuting program, rather than
   environmental heroes or victims of a head office scheme.

   In a world of competing interests that pull us in different directions, green commuting really
   is a win-win choice. Employees are better off, the workplace reaps productivity and loyalty
   benefits, and the community benefits from reduced emissions and vehicle congestion.

   It’s an opportunity waiting to happen at your workplace. Contact Resource Conservation
   Manitoba at (204) 925-3772 for more information or to arrange a consult.

          Green Commuting Handbook / Resource Conservation Manitoba / page 8

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