Annual Business Commute Challenge kicks off May 12

Bike share bicycles

If you normally drive to work by yourself, and if you’re looking for a small nudge to get to campus another way, look no further.

The annual Business Commute Challenge runs May 12-18, and the only thing you have to do to take part is to find another way to reach campus. Plus, you and your colleagues can earn some bragging rights as a bonus.

Walk, carpool, vanpool, take the bus, ride your bike and even telework — they all count toward your goal in the challenge.

“You have to commit to a week of your life doing something different from how you normally do it,” said Kelsey Moore, the UO Bike Program coordinator. “How hard is that?”

The only requirement is that you join or form a team of your co-workers, then go to www.commutechallenge.org/ to register. The challenge is for faculty and staff; students are not eligible.

Teams compete against other like-sized squads, striving to get the largest percentage of participants to take part in the event. The UO has been well-represented in the challenge in recent years. Last year, 18 percent of the teams and 20 percent of the individuals taking part in the challenge were connected to the UO.

Roughly 13 percent of students drive alone to campus, while 48 percent of faculty and staff do, according to an annual survey conducted by Campus Planning and Facilities Management. Most students walk — 49 percent — while the second-most popular form of commuting among faculty and staff is bicycling, at 21 percent.

Moore said one way to encourage participation is to challenge other teams within the university to a duel. The challenge’s website keeps tabs on each team’s score.

While she has taken part in the challenge for eight years, she practices what she preaches year-round, either walking or bicycling the 2.5 miles to her office in the Erb Memorial Union every day.

And if bicycling isn’t your thing, Moore reminds folks that their UO ID card gets them a free ride systemwide within the Lane Transit District.

“If you haven’t tried that before, why not?” said Moore. “What are you going to lose if you try it a couple of times in a week?”

This year’s Business Commute Challenge contains another option for folks to get to and from their workplace or around Eugene: PeaceHealth Rides, the new bikeshare program that officially launched last week and has a campus kickoff event April 24 at the bikeshare station at the EMU. With the UO as one of the program’s sponsors, students, faculty and staff receive a discount to take part. To find out more and sign up, go to www.peacehealthrides.com/ or click here.

If you want to learn more about other ways to get around without a car, the Department of Parking and Transportation recently set up a kiosk just inside the entrance to the EMU near the UO Ticket Office with materials about other methods of transportation, including LTD’s Emergency Ride Home program for folks who commute without a car but need a ride in a pinch. If you are thinking about bicycling, the Bike Program can map out the most bike-friendly routes around town for you.

The Business Commute Challenge also includes poker “walkabouts” in Eugene and Springfield, Bike Day at the Peter DeFazio Bridge, Transit Day at the Lane Transit District Next Stop Center at West 11th Avenue and Olive Street in Eugene, and wraps up with a National Bike to Work Day event in Springfield near Aspen and D streets. A wrap-up party is scheduled for May 24 at the Sweet Cheeks Winery Tasting Room.

Plus, participants are eligible for a drawing to win prizes, which increase in value as you achieve higher tiers in the challenge. Prizes include a bike, a bike commuter kit, a bike trailer and numerous gift certificates from local merchants.

The Business Commute Challenge also happens to come in the midst of Bike Month, with more than 30 events scattered throughout May. The full calendar can be found at webikelane.org, but some of the highlights include a gear swap, a ride to Spencer Butte for a hike to the top, educational programs, a bike-in international short film night at the Outdoor Program Barn, and a full-moon mountain bike ride.

 “The Business Commute Challenge is a perfect opportunity to challenge yourself to see if this is something you might be interested in doing again,” Moore said.

—By Jim Murez, University Communications