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City of Atlanta Partnering with Waze to Reduce Traffic Congestion

While there’s some friendly dispute over which traffic-navigating app reign supreme over all, it’s no secret that Waze has gotten hugely popular with those trying to find a quick way home. Since it provides real-time traffic data and offers alternative routes for skirting around congested areas, Waze has really caught on with metro Atlanta commuters—and the City of Atlanta has joined them.

Using Waze’s Connected Cities program, Atlanta will now partner with the traffic app to share information on real-time construction, crashes, road closures and slow-downs.

“Through this partnership, we will be better positioned to support additional viable solutions, promoting a better quality of life,” said Mayor Kasim Reed.

Of course, it’s safest not to focus on a mobile app from the driver seat, so hand that phone to a carpooler while you’re on the road. Not carpooling yet? We can help you get started—and even throw a little cash your way for trying it out. Learn how carpooling can earn you up to $150 here.

 

Construction Underway on Westside BeltLine Trail

We’re pretty excited about more miles of the Atlanta BeltLine, because it means more chances for people to walk and bike to work—pollution-free commutes that help us get active and take cars off the road.

Take a look at the newest photos of the BeltLine construction to see what’s coming to west Atlanta!

Atlanta Among Nation’s Fastest-Growing Metro Areas

Metro Atlanta has been drawing in thousands of newcomers over the past few years. Between 2013 and 2015, our region’s population grew by more than 255,000 people, according to U.S. Census data studied by the Brookings Institution.

And according to the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), we’re set to will gain about 2.5 million more people between now and 2040.

(Seems like the rest of the U.S. is catching onto what Atlantans already know: that this is a truly awesome place to live and work.)

Of course, growing population means more people sharing our roads and resources—and one great way to adapt is to start sharing the ride to work! Try carpooling, vanpooling or transit to help reduce the cars on our roads and make the commute better for Atlantans old and new. Not sure how to get started? Georgia Commute Options can help.                 

 



Carpool Karaoke on the Way to World Domination

By now, you may have heard of J-Lo’s epic turn on James Corden’s hilarious recurring Carpool Karaoke bit.  Why do we love Carpool Karaoke so much?

The AV Club has theories about it tapping into the music industry’s success on YouTube in general, and points to James Corden’s comic talent in interacting with his passengers. And sure, we’ll hand it to them. That sounds smart.

But we have another theory. We think people love Carpool Karaoke so much because, deep down, they’d rather be carpooling themselves. We all long to stage karaoke bouts of our very own—maybe on a daily basis, on the ride to work.

And Georgia Commute Options is here to tell you that dreams do come true. You can find a carpool partner right on our home page! Just go to GaCommuteOptions.com and click “Find a Ridematch” to get matched with dozens of potential carpool karaoke buddies near where you live and work. Get matched (and start singing) today!

 

Pedaling Towards Happiness: 7 Mental Health Benefits of Riding Bikes

It’s no secret that biking to work gets you more active, which is part of a healthier life. Plus, it’s a pollution-free commute, which makes for healthier air.

And if those weren’t enough, here’s a new benefit of biking to work: improved mental health.

This list points out that a non-competitive physical activity (like biking for errands and the commute) improves our subjective mood.

Physical activity is also tied to reduced stress, anxiety and depression. And exercising outdoors (hint, hint) boosts those levels even higher.

And yes, all the above benefits can come from lots of different physical activities. But here’s the kicker: Cycling is the one activity that gets you off the Downtown Connector at rush hour. Can’t argue with that.

Click the link for the full list—and if you’re ready to switch to cycling on your commute, see what cash and prizes you can earn from Georgia Commute Options here

 

By Bike or by Bus, Buford Highway Can Be a Wild, Tasty Ride

Buford Highway is everyone’s favorite haven of authentic international food. But if it’s your first time out, the prospect can be a bit overwhelming. Where’s the best place to start, and what’s the best way to navigate the seven-lane, traffic-laden highway?

Lucky for us, We Love BuHi is willing to take the lead. Known for their periodic Bikes and Bites rides along the 8-mile stretch, We Love BuHi is now rumored to be organizing a bus food crawl through the same neighborhood. If you’re cycling-averse (we forgive you) and still want to sample BuHi’s best, this could be your ticket.

And hey—if you’re new to transit, this might be the perfect chance to get the feel for bus riding in general. Maybe you could even work it into your daily commute. You know, there are Georgia Commute Options prizes in it for you if you do. 



MARTA Army Taking Aim at Chamblee

MARTA Army, a grassroots organization focused on boosting MARTA ridership, is making strides in Chamblee. Most of MARTA Army’s work focuses on the “adopt a bus stop” initiative which assigns bus stops to individual commuters and makes them responsible for posting valuable route and timetable information. But the Army has begun expanding its work by working with Chamblee officials to set up crowd-funding for transit amenities—namely, bus stop benches.

Find out how riding transit can earn you rewards here.

Singing Trees Coming to Your Commute

Do you use the Atlanta BeltLine to commute by bike or foot? If so, you could soon catch a glimpse of the “If Trees Could Sing” project, coordinated by the Nature Conservancy and Trees Atlanta.

The project outfits trees along the path with signs bearing info and a QR code. Scan the code with your smartphone, and you’ll get a little testimonial from a popular musician.

“I am happy to capture the interest of Atlanta BeltLine enthusiasts with the importance of forest conservation in such a creative way,” said Deron Davis, executive director of The Nature Conservancy in Georgia.

And don’t forget, you walk-and-bike commuters could earn cash and prizes from Georgia Commute Options. Learn more here.

MARTA Board Chair Discusses How to Fund New Projects

So, the bill allowing voters to approve funds for a MARTA expansion in Atlanta and Fulton County cleared the General Assembly last week. Now what?

According to MARTA Board Chair Robbie Ashe, the next task is making the case for voters.

Step one: Develop a project list that can be made public by May 31.

Step two: Get the word out. “I am sure the fall will be full of community meetings,” Ashe said. “Public opinion surveys tell us Atlantans want more transit, and they want it now. That’s why what happened at the General Assembly is such a powerful thing, because this give us the opportunity to deliver it to them.”

Why do we love this news? Because MARTA expansion means more chances for metro Atlanta commuters to take transit and get cars off the road! (You know, you don’t even have to wait if you don’t want to. Switch to transit and we’ll give you $5 a day for giving it a try. Learn more here.)



   

Driving Alone is Hurting Georgians’ Health

We’ve all read articles about how long commutes are bad news for health. But those studies have never been Georgia-specific…until now. A recent study ranked Georgia’s healthiest (and unhealthiest) counties, and as it turns out, sitting alone in the car for an hour each day has a pretty disastrous effect on your well-being. Yikes.

In a fascinating turn, it’s not just the sitting that’s making us unhealthy—it’s the “alone” part of “drive alone commute.” Interacting with people is a significant health-improver, and the solo drive to work isn’t cutting it.

Lucky for metro Atlanta, it’s easy to add some human contact to your commute. Carpooling and vanpooling are just what the doctor ordered! Find a ridematch here.

Rockdale Teens Have Ideas for a Better Atlanta

Rockdale County’s awesome crop of high schoolers jumped in to the Atlanta Regional Commission’s (ARC) youth leadership program and presented ideas for improving metro Atlanta to the ARC board last week. Impressive.

Think your child’s school would be interested in showing kids the value of a clean commute? Get to know our Georgia Commute Schools program!

Don’t Block Intersections — Ever.

Ever misjudged the amount of time you had before a light changed, pulled forward with your line of cars, and suddenly found yourself blocking an intersection at rush hour?

Yeah, you don’t want to be that guy.

And in fact, it’s illegal to be that guy. Georgia law says you can be fined up to $500 for entering an intersection without enough space to clear it.

Check out this new campaign just launched in the north Perimeter area to get the word out about block-free intersections

(Also, remember that one solution to blocked intersections is fewer cars on the road! Learn how to start a carpool or vanpool here.)



The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) employs more than 13,800 people in the metro Atlanta area— 5,300 of which are regular teleworkers. Buy-in from our agency leadership has been crucial to the success of our telework program, and it has helped us reach the full potential of our mobile, flexible workers. 

As the CDC’s Community Transportation Services Lead, I support the Agency’s comprehensive telework program with educational and instructional material. It’s a program that requires special management with a workforce as large as ours, an effort requiring both internal coordination and external consulting from Georgia Commute Options. We feel telework is worth that extra effort — because it gives our employees benefits that, in turn, make them better workers for the CDC. So we’ve committed to making telework a part of our office culture, and that means leaning in on an organizational level. 

We lean in because of the benefits telework brings to our employees. And any talk about the benefits of teleworking has to start with cost and time savings. Every metro Atlanta commuter knows the cost of getting to work, every day of all the gas and time we burn while sitting in traffic. The CDC Roybal campus is particularly prone to traffic congestion, so any measure that helps reduce the number of cars traveling through our worksite provides a huge benefit to the agency.  Telework is a solution that gives that money and time back to our employees, helping them take a crucial step toward better work-life balance. In fact, Georgia Commute Options reports that teleworking saved CDC employees a cumulative $190,000 in commute costs last year — a savings we’re thrilled to facilitate, because it makes for happier, more productive workers. 

And while we’re on the subject of productivity, let’s talk about the assumption that workers won’t be productive if they’re allowed to work from home. It’s common for managers to worry that teleworking will give employees the chance to stray off task, and that’s a valid concern. But think about it: staying on task at the office is a pretty big challenge already. Working in a shared space gives coworkers the power to consistently interrupt each other —and that’s actually a great thing. It can help build office relationships and rapport. But it also means that employees get distracted, and simple tasks stretch into day-long pursuits. Stepping out of the office environment a couple times a week gives employees the chance to zero in on solitary tasks, shortening turnaround time and saving the “people energy” for their in-office days. The result is better productivity and a higher-quality work product from our staff. 

Those in-office days have to be part of the telework equation. That’s why we lean in with our time and planning, organization-wide. Rather than isolating telework days as a special consideration, we work hard to make them part of a larger work week strategy that balances remote tasks against in-office tasks and gives the right amount of time to each. Example: At the CDC, we do lab work and classified research. We also do a lot of coordination with other government agencies. These are tasks that all employees know are not telework-eligible.  Setting those boundaries empowers all our employees to plan their weekly task lists for maximum efficiency. 

We also lean in through our use of technology. At the CDC, one of our most significant investments in telework has come through hardware. Once we committed to making telework available agency-wide, we began issuing all employees laptops with docking stations. This lets employees access our Virtual Private Network (VPN) from wherever they’re working, giving them the flexibility to complete tasks in-office and out, all on a single platform.  Transitioning our workforce from desktop computers to laptops required a substantial up-front investment — but compared to the time, money and effort that would have gone into updating each employee desktop one-by-one, this decision has more than paid for itself.  Additionally, we have instituted an Agency wide Telework Management System.  This system automates the request and approval process, which streamlines access to teleworking and provides accurate data for later assessment. 

When it comes to overseeing the telework vs. in-office balance, we’ve learned to empower our managers and team leaders to make it successful in their departments. Telework requires a mindset shift: managers and coworkers have to remember to treat every day as a regular day, no matter who’s in the office and who’s working remotely. It’s important not to fall into the trap of waiting to schedule meetings until all workers are in the office. In an ideal telework setup, work continues with complete continuity, enhanced by workers’ flexibility — not hampered by their absence. 

While infrastructure improvements have helped accommodate telework at the CDC, our most important takeaway is this: Nothing can take the place of support from organization leadership. Not every employer has the resources to invest in custom technology and new laptops — and not every employer needs to. But support starting at the top goes a long way toward identifying the tools and processes that can make telework work for any size company.

In order to maximize employees’ potential, management should give them both the flexibility to balance their work with their lives and the parameters to keep that work in check. It’s worked for us at the CDC. It can work for any company with the desire to get creative.

Mr. Scott Kemp presently serves as the Community Transportation Services Lead for CDC in Atlanta.  A retired Marine, with 20 years of active service and 6 years’ service as a DoD civilian, Mr. Kemp has been involved in transportation and logistics for his entire career. One of his primary responsibilities for CDC is to develop and promote alternate commuting options and participation.



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