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'Motion' month emphasizes alternative transportation

Commuters and shoppers can wave at the collection box today as they pass by and take a seat on ValleyRide buses. They can take advantage of Free Fare Fridays this month as part of a promotion for alternative transportation.

The May in Motion campaign is sponsored by the Ada County Highway District’s (ACHD) Commuteride, ValleyRide, KIVI-TV, Boise State University Radio and KRVB radio. It features a variety of events to promote an understanding and use of transportation alternatives.

ITD encourages the use of alternative transportation among its 1,800-plus employees and all Idahoans.

In a recent statement to the Idaho Statesman, ITD Director Dave Ekern said: “Each of us, in our everyday lives, must make choices on how we travel to work, school, recreation, shopping and the many other activities…

“ITD’s visioning process last year showed that Idahoans want multimodal choices on how to get to work, shopping areas, school and recreation. They want these options to support their lifestyles and they want the freedom to make these choices at a reasonable cost. Planning, implementing and supporting those options is part of our mission, working with COMPASS (Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho), ValleyRide, ACHD, the private sector, Legislature and the governor to make this goal a reality.

“ITD staff is applying this vision planning process, such as the HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lanes being studied as part of the current I-84 Orchard to Gowen Interchange Study and the strengthening of pedestrian and bicycle facilities in our project design plans.”

ITD also encourages its employees to participate in alternative transportation by rewarding those who commute in vanpools and carpools and adjusting work schedules, when possible, to make alternatives more convenient. The department also encourages employees to use public transportation, ride bicycles or walk to work when practical.

Employees at Headquarters were invited to participate in the 2004 Corporate Challenge by maintaining a log of their commutes. Those who use buses, shuttles, vanpools, carpools, bicycles or their own feet during May can turn their records in and become eligible for a number of rewards.

The grand prize, reserved for those who use transportation alternatives 10 or more times through the month, is two round-trip tickets wherever SouthWest Airlines flies.

ITD finished second in the corporate challenge last year, based on the number of participants.

Why the emphasis on alternative transportation?

Idaho’s Treasure Valley is the seventh fastest-growing metropolitan area in the country, and recently ranked first among cities in the Northwest for urban sprawl. The region’s population is expected to surge 40.1 percent – to nearly 700,000 people – by 2015.

May in Motion, which also celebrates National Transportation Month, informs Idahoans about transportation-related issues and encourages participation in transportation alternatives as a way of reducing traffic congestion and improving air quality.

In addition to free bus rides on Fridays, May in Motion includes:

  • Random Rider Rewards – May 24-28, prizes for bus commuters traveling between 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. and from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Neighbors Walk to Work – May 28, Residents of Boise neighborhoods will lace up athletic shoes and walk to work together.
  • Carpool spotting – Rewards for randomly selected occupants of carpool vehicles bearing a radio station’s bumper sticker.
  • Carpool/vanpool pool party – A party for carpoolers in downtown Boise. Participants can take a “dip in the pool” and win a prize.
  • Commuter’s bike rally – Bicycle riders, including Boise Mayor Dave Bieter, staged a bike rally in downtown Boise. Free coffee and pastries were provided to participants and the first 50 cyclists received a water bottle.

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