Mary Sell has a Master’s of Science in Environmental Policy & Planning from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and a B.A in International Relations from Michigan State University. Prior to working at Triangle J Council of Governments, she worked in the Transportation Demand Management & Sustainability sectors for Duke University and Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority. Connect with Mary: Blog, LinkedIn and Twitter
About the Triangle J Council of Governments: Originally established in 1959 as the Research Triangle Regional Planning Commission, the Triangle J Council of Governments now serves a seven-county region, addressing the tough issues that transcend political boundaries. Our 37 member governments include Chatham, Durham, Johnston, Lee, Orange and Wake counties – and 31 municipal governments across the seven-county region.
When polled on their daily commute, most Triangle J residents would quickly respond back with the make, model and year of their vehicle. However, for an increasing number of residents, you might get an uncharacteristic response; Asics Nimbus Size 8.5, a Trek Hybrid 7.2 or the GoTriangle Route 105 – that’s right, a pair of tennis shoes, a bike or the trusty regional transit system. As job growth surges so does the traffic and stress associated with a long, congestion filled commute. Many area commuters are looking for alternatives and regional workplaces are stepping up to the plate to provide resources for employees that want to get into work via non-car (or car-light) transportation modes. TJCOG administers programming that assists these workplace leaders through our regional branch of the Best Workplaces for Commuters (BWC) program – a holistic resource that workplaces can depend on for best practices, education opportunities, and national workplace recognition.
Best Workplaces for Commuters recognizes the essential nature of good transportation resources in our growing region and the comprehensive strategic planning, education and outreach programming needed to support it. This approach has helped to create a holistic strategy to mitigate the impact of increasingly congested roadways and provide alternatives for commuters that decide a bike or bus may be more their style. BWC provides recognition to workplaces that have taken great steps to encourage modal shifts, serves as a regional resource, and ultimately works to expand upon individual actions to create a triangle-wide impact.
Currently, the Triangle Best Workplaces for Commuters program has over 30 participating organizations, with over 100,000 employees combined. As the program grows, so do the opportunities to strategically advance alternative transportation modes in our region. Take BWC members Citrix or Red Hat for example; each has onsite bike sharing and secure parking for those that commute in via 2-wheels. Or member American Tobacco Campus and their forward thinking decision to provide transit amenities to tenants to decrease the need for costly parking deck installations. Each BWC employer has unique transportation benefits that helped qualify them for national designation and continues to add to the regional conversation about how to attract and retain the best possible talent. Our role here at the COG is to recognize this activity and act as a facilitator and convener to help spread these good ideas as quickly as we can to provide the most impact that we can. Through working groups, regional events, and networking opportunities, BWC provides an embedded network of employers that value what their employees value – a better commute and a better way of life.
We all have ideas that we can learn from each other. Why not approach these challenges with collaborative partnerships to help our entire region? After all, one less car on the road benefits not only the alternative commuter enjoying their newly minted bike ride to work, but also the driver that has one less car beside them as they set in for their daily trek into the office. As the Triangle J region grows, so too does our need for innovative solutions. Best Workplaces for Commuters is just one of the many regional tools helping us to advance alternative transportation modes and decrease the dependence regionally on a car-centric way of life.
Learn more about our Best Workplaces for Commuter program here.