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Communities Look to Creative Solutions For Transportation-Related Air Pollution

August 13th, 2021

Galloway & Company, Inc. explores the possible effects of traffic reduction programs, and looks to ways they can be proactive in the fight against air pollution.

For years, states across the U.S. have struggled with rising air pollution and poor air quality due to CO2 emissions from transportation. Colorado’s Department of Public Health & Environment is looking at innovative solutions to address this problem head on.

COLORADO EMPLOYEE TRAFFIC REDUCTION PROGRAM

Anyone who has lived in Colorado knows that cities along the Front Range, located on the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains, suffer from some of the worst ground level ozone levels in the country, and transportation is its largest contributor.

COLORADO EMPLOYEE TRAFFIC REDUCTION PROGRAM

To help combat this, the Air Pollution Control Division of the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission, established an Employee Traffic Reduction Program (ETRP). Originally proposed as a mandatory program under their larger transportation greenhouse gas reduction rule package for 2021, the program will now be explored as a voluntary one available to businesses.

The premise is to reduce the rate of single occupancy vehicles (SOVs) commuting to work and move towards the use of cleaner vehicles. Companies with 100-plus employees at one worksite within the Colorado Ozone Nonattainment Area will be encouraged to develop a customized traffic reduction plan specifically tailored to their needs, as well as the needs of their employees.

WHAT COULD THIS MEAN FOR COMMUTERS?

The ETRP is not a ban on commuting nor a way to penalize commuters for their commuting habits. Rather, it is a plan that would be developed, implemented, and monitored by employers to offer company employees comparable solutions to SOV commuting.

A few examples outside of the regular realm of encouraging micromobility (walking/biking to work) and utilizing public transportation include: implementing flexible work schedules (e.g., four 10-hour days), offering work from home opportunities, and arranging employee shuttles to and from the work site.

The benefits of this proposed plan, aside from air pollution control, could include reduced traffic for Colorado commuters and increased employment opportunities to those who struggle to accommodate a traditional work schedule.

WHAT COULD THE ETRP MEAN FOR DESIGN PRACTICES?

Although this program targets businesses rather than their buildings or sites, there may be indirect effects that programs like these would have on site and building design practices. For companies such as Galloway that provide transportation planning, architecture, and civil engineering services, the ETRP could encourage design teams to evaluate projects with new requirements in mind.

COLORADO EMPLOYEE TRAFFIC REDUCTION PROGRAM

Designs may include increased areas for electric vehicle parking and charging stations, creating more prioritized parking for green vehicles, and building access pathways to public transportation in planning when applicable. Well-designed pedestrian walkways will be at the forefront of adapting these spaces to encourage alternate commuting habits.

Plans may also call for an increased number of bike racks, bike lockers to ensure bicycles are stored securely, and locker rooms for employees to refresh after their commute. Colorado’s ETRP has significant overlap with the Transportation Demand Management (TDM) program, which also includes strategies to reduce SOVs and utilize existing infrastructure. Across the nation, more cities are creating programs to help reduce carbon emissions, encouraging firms to look for creative solutions that will help address the ever growing needs of clients’ facilities.

HOW GALLOWAY IS GETTING INVOLVED

Since 1956, communities have been participating in some facet of a “bike to work day,” encouraging people to ride their bicycles or take an alternative mode of transportation to work. A happy side effect of this movement is that it also lends to the fight to lower air pollution from transportation. According to the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, an 11 percent cut in CO2 emissions from commuters can be achieved by 2050 if cycling rates increase by 20 percent. Bike to work initiatives can last for one day, or even a whole month, causing immense community involvement from companies and individuals alike.

HOW GALLOWAY IS GETTING INVOLVED

In Colorado, June is designated as “Bike Month” and typically the fourth Wednesday of the month is Bike to Work Day. This year, due to COVID-19, the date has been pushed to Wednesday, September 22. As an effort to get the ball rolling early, Galloway has implemented a four-month program encouraging employees to take an alternative mode of transportation to work on a designated day each month leading up to September 22.

This initiative has been spearheaded by Galloway’s traffic engineering team, and it has already seen a great success with its second bike to work day completed on July 21. This is just one way that companies like Galloway are implementing initiatives that align with the push towards finding cleaner solutions in the modern business world.

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