Posts Tagged ‘stress’

Great result for public transportation in California

I found a rather interesting article about how to create a culture of public transportation today. It was about the Marci option, an ongoing campaign in California, USA. Outside San Ramon, almost 40 miles from San Fransisco, there is a big office park with some 30 000 workers. 33% of them choose public transportation for the commute. The article is in the Atlantic by the way.

Wait a minute! 33%? that’s a huge number. Really good. Especially in such a car centered culture as the American. Some 90 % of the Americans commute by car, so getting 10 000 of a total of 30 000 office workers to change to a greener commute is fantastic. It is so good I can hardly believe it. How on earth have this come to pass?

This office park have the Ranch’s Transportation center, and its program manager Marci (ie the name Marci option) to thank for this. She, her coworkers and the companies around the park have managed to create a whole new transportation culture. Using transit is a choice, not a sacrifice. And it is easy in this area apparently as there are lots of bus lines that go through or close to the office park. Availability is a key for making public transportation really well used and popular. It also makes it possible to save lots of money on gas, insurance and other costs. More importantly is the fact that if it is easy to access it will be easier to switch to a greener commute as a lifestyle choice. Weather this is a “stress less” choice or for the environment doesn’t really matter, one will lead to the other. Like health, wealth and a better planet. I wonder where you heard that slogan before…

I find two major things interesting here;

1) The fact that the program got almost 10 000 of 30 000 employees to switch to public transportation, and buses at that. I have gotten he impression that buses are for the poor while rail in all form for the middle-class in many Americans minds. Not only that but it takes a while to get used to public transportation. The article in The Atlantic mentioned two weeks. For someone to hang on to something they mistrusts and dislike for two weeks is quite impressive. And the workers seem to have noticed that they save money and live a more environmentally friendly lives as well.

2) The health results. To quote the article

Marci says that once riders begin leaving their cars at home they go through a stressful period of two weeks or so where they feel that they’ve lost the control they had in the car. But within three weeks they notice their overall stress levels are lower. “Transit requires that you go at a different pace. You have to wait. If there were roses, we’d smell them,” she says, “There’s not much of that in our lives.” She says HR people have called her saying some of their meaner workers have become pleasant people after switching to transit.

In other words, there are some serious carrots for employers AND employees to lobby for better public transportation. If it is possible it might even be an idea to throw in good bike parking (with security cameras/locked doors to avoid theft) in the lobbying as well. Who doesn’t want to reduce stress and stress-related diseases and symptoms.

Commute Greener! is running a campaign at Lindholmen Science park in Gothenburg during April and May. Health wealth and a better planet are central words for Commute Greener! We too focus on lifestyle choices. It is really nice to see that similar campaigns are running with great results. Climate change is a huge and foreboding problem. We will all have to pitch in and do our part in controlling this monster. Small steps matter a great deal, and the commute is something that can be easy to affect. You can save lots of CO2 by simply taking the bus instead of driving, and you will get calmer (once you get used to it) and save a few bucks in the process.  If these guys can, we can too!

Commute Greener! everybody!

Fredrik

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Telecommuting, part 3

Winter is a wonderful season. The snowy landscape looks wonderful, the kids loves playing in the snow, and you can do various activities not available in other seasons. But winter weather can make the commute an annoyance. So why not try some telecommuting? A two minutes commute (from bed to the desk) sure beats struggling through snow and rain to get to work.

A telecommute is a nice way to save some money, time and CO2. Talk about gathering Zero emission kilometres. But not every supervisor want their employees to work from home. It can be a matter of trust, a matter of control or just a matter of wanting to be able to see the employee. Or some other reason. So how to get the your boss to agree on a telecommute? Well, there are many ways, like this article describes. Some of the arguments are better then others, and some may not work on every workplace, but it sure is a good way to start. Well worth a look.

A telecommute can really be a good thing. There are so many good points in telecommuting, for the environment, for the health situation AND for the greens (ie.$), both the companies and the environments. Reducing stress gained from the commute, and being able to work in peace and quiet in the comfort of ones own home is very nice. In our modern information society were everyone has the means to communicate by voice, text or video, not being able to keep in touch with your co-workers is not really an issue. Security might be an issue though, as a private computer on an unsecured connection is easier to attack then a computer on a big company. But there are secure workarounds for that too today. In other words, why not try it out.

In an environmental perspective, telecommuting is great. Radiators and electricity is running at home whether you are there or at work, and you save in on CO2 and other pollutants from driving. Not only that, but there is also the matter of traffic congestion, less exposure to particles and noise. From a health perspective, less noise, particles, stress and a more comfortable environment of ones home may even lead to less sick days due to health issues.

Do a youtube search on telecommuting… You will be amazed with how many videos of happy home-workers there are out there. One of the funnier features a cat with a fondness of sleeping on the keybord. Small things like that can make it fun to work, or should I say more fun then usual, and burn of some stress without affecting the daily productivity.

So, for the environment, your health and your wallet, try it out or at least suggest it to your superiors. Maybe once or twice a week. See if it works, and be flexible. And if that doesn’t work, be sure to commute greener.

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Fredrik

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Holiday traffic – fight the crowds

Hi! Today’s entry is a bit shorter then usual!

The whole of  Sweden celebrates midsummer this weekend. It is an old pagan holiday that have become one of our most important celebrations of all year. This is the Swedish holiday that has given us a reputation as crazy frog imitating weirdoes in the rest of the world. A reputation we are rather fond of actually. It is true, we do dress up in folk-costumes/traditional clothing (some do at least) and dance around huge maypoles while dancing like frogs. At least families with children.

With the holiday comes  huge increases in traffic, and the public transportation system fill up to the bursting point. This have a logical explanation; people are travelling to meet their friends and families. There are one additional explanation to; alcohol. “Don’t drink and drive” is a very common proverb in Sweden… Something other countries should take after. And midsummer is one of our national drinking holidays.

I myself will fight the crowds and try to get a train ticket on one of the more popular train commute lines. I’m really looking forward to that :-) . It will be everything most car commuters believe public transportation to be. Hot, sweaty, loud and slow. Hooray for holiday traffic!

A good thing to have days like this, when the stress level is running high and you rush to get on the train/bus is real time information. Just knowing when the bus will come and being able to plan ahead eases some of the stress. Other cities around the world, particularly the bigger ones, have systems like this to. If you live in a city that don’t have one, ask your politicians for a system like this…

Enough said about that. Portable devices are always good too. There are a number of local apps for Iphone and Android, developed by local public transit companies. One app me and Magnus found interesting was Transporter.

It seems good, especially a day like this. Find an app that suits you, it might make your commute easier.

Well, I’m off to fight the crowds. You know the drill, follow us on facebook and twitter, watch our videos on youtube, use our new app and remember to Commute Greener!

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Fredrik

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