By Hunter Merritt, USACE May 31, 2011
SACRAMENTO, Calif., June 7, 2011 -- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District employees supported the 2011 May is Bike Month campaign by logging more than 7,300 miles in May, placing fifth in comparison with similarly-sized participating Sacramento area businesses and agencies.
The district was recognized earlier this month by the Sacramento Area Council of Governments for promoting alternative commute options and aiming to lower greenhouse gas emissions by being a bike-friendly workplace.
Biking to work is a low-cost transit option for employees, who are able to access free, secure bike racks in the parking deck and a private bike locker for only $5 per month. Showers and lockers are also available for bike commuters. The district has offered several clinics on safe bike commuting practices to encourage the use of biking as an alternative commute option.
The district also maintains a membership in the Sacramento Transportation Management Association, a non-profit organization formed in 1991 to address the issues of air quality by promoting alternative transportation options. All district employees enjoy the benefits of this membership.
“To lure commuters out of their cars we have to convince them that bicycle commuting is not just for the bold and the brave, it is a relatively safe form of transportation,” said Marilyn Bryant, Sacramento TMA coordinator and organizer of the Sacramento May is Bike Month campaign, which promotes the use of bicycle transportation with special events and promotions throughout the month.
“It is really about education and awareness of what is available,” said Bryant. “With that, people can make the change to use alternative transportation, for their own health and a better environment.”
With more than 30 miles of bike trails along the American River and bike lanes on many city streets, Sacramento has become very popular as a bike commuting city, fourth in the nation, according to a 2008 survey published by American Bicyclist.
In 2008, the Sacramento Area Council of Governments awarded $11.4 million to facilities and projects for cyclists, pedestrians and people with disabilities. SACOG’s Metropolitan Transportation Plan anticipates the region will spend $1.4 billion on such projects by 2035, a 56 percent increase over the previous plan.
The Sacramento TMA provides a website with information on all forms of transit, including traffic conditions for drivers. Members are encouraged to join the Commuter Club, which provides information on cost savings and reduction of air pollution for every mile traveled and awards prizes to members who track their miles, even those who drive alone.
Members who commute by alternative means can also access a free ride home by taxi or rental car in case of an emergency.
“I think more people would join the Commuter Club and log their miles if they knew that there were actual rewards,” said Kenneth Wing, a senior project manager with the Sacramento District and a member of the Commuter Club since 2005. Wing rides his bike to work nearly every day, seven miles from his home in Land Park, Calif., and said he has won several gift cards through the program.