The Rapidian

Celebrating organizations committed to an active commute

Local employers team up to encourage active transportation during Active Commute Week 2016.

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GRTV is broadcasting an interview with Jennifer Kalczuk, external relations manager for The Rapid and Michael Bulthuis, The Rapid’s public outreach coordinator of community, that highlights everything you need to know about Active Commute Week.

Showcase, the Grand Rapids public affairs talk show hosted by Julie Way, is airing the 15-minute episode now through next week onLiveWire (Comcast Cable Channel 24) at 7 p.m. Monday, June 20; at 12 p.m. Tuesday, June 21; at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 22; and Thursday, June 23 at 12 p.m. The Rapid interview also will be on the tube on GRTV (Comcast Cable Channel 25) at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday, June 18.

Watch it online athttp://www.grcmc.org/node/11244/npo-showcase---active-commute-week.

KDL Cruisers waiting to be checked out for use.

KDL Cruisers waiting to be checked out for use. /Kent District Library

Active commuting isn’t just good for your health; it’s also good for the community and the environment.

We want to celebrate the many fantastic local organizations who have teams participating in the Active Commute Week Challenge! There are currently 34 organizations signed up including Steelcase, Catalyst Partners, Fulton Street Farmers Market, Brewery Vivant and more! We reached out to a few organizations involved in Active Commute Week to learn more about why they’re participating in this year’s event.

Grand Valley State University

Sustainability is a core value of Grand Valley State University (GVSU), so it should come as no surprise that they’ve been involved with Active Commute Week since its inception in 2012. But avoiding single occupancy vehicle use also opens the door to new opportunities for health benefits.

“Active transportation is a key component to living a sustainable lifestyle. Participation in Active Commute Week not only encourages a sustainable lifestyle through transportation methods but also additional ways to participate in physical activity throughout the day,” said Lindsey DesArmo, Health and Wellness Specialist at GVSU.

GVSU has been challenging employees to commit to a week of active commuting through internal communications and they’ve also enlisted their Health and Wellness Ambassador team to help spread the word. This team is made up of 100 faculty and staff who practice and value well-being.

DesArmo also shared that those who may be new to riding their bike to work don’t have to go it alone. GVSU’s Outdoor Adventure Center Manager is leading one of the five bike trains from downtown GVSU campus to the Allendale campus. You can also visit DesArmo at the corner of Fulton and Valley handing out pit stop refreshments to commuters on the morning of Friday, June 24.

“If you have a bike and ride it, you are a bicyclist. Take advantage of the new infrastructure supporting active commuting in Grand Rapids and the education and awareness around the Driving Change campaign. Even if only taking active transportation one day a week by bike, bus, walking or carpool - it counts (no spandex required). Start small and ask someone you know who is more experienced to go with you,” said DesArmo.

Kent District Library

Sustainable, healthy transportation is a no-brainer for an organization like Kent District Library (KDL). As a cornerstone organization with 18 branches, KDL provides equal access to information (printed materials and the Internet) and now access to a "library of things" like hotspots, iPads, musical instruments and bicycles.

KDL has a special role as a library to promote free access to information to help equalize opportunities for the residents of Kent County. In supporting Active Commute Week, KDL is acknowledging another way to equalize and empower Kent County residents; through promoting healthy, low-cost transportation.

“Encouraging KDL employees to utilize alternative, sustainable modes of transportation is encouraging over 300 people to make a healthy change. If even one person from each branch takes the Active Commute Week challenge, that positive message is going out into 18 communities around Kent County,” said Calli Crow, KDL administrative assistant.

To encourage employee participation, Crow shared that KDL has assigned a point person or Challenge Champion for each branch to help with sign-ups. They’re also taking full advantage of KDL Cruisers, the new bike check-out program. Sixteen KDL locations have four bicycles available for check-out for KDL cardholders that are 18 years of age and older, which includes employees. KDL is encouraging employees to take the Cruisers out on breaks, to run errands or to go for lunch.

"Lessening car-dependency (even a little) has a positive impact on personal health, the economy, and the environment. Taking the Active Commute Week challenge is a great way to start! It might seem daunting at first, especially if you want to start bicycling as a newbie, but there has never been a better time to give bicycle commuting a try. Nonprofits like the League of Michigan Bicyclists, Greater Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition, Spoke Folks and Boston Square Community Bikes can provide you with knowledge, support and even low-cost bikes to get you rolling,” said Crow.

Grand Rapids Community Foundation

It may be the Grand Rapids Community Foundation’s first year as an Active Commute Week participant, but they’re no strangers to active transportation. In fact, they already have incentives for employees who participate in active commuting.

“As an organization committed to the sustainability of this community, it’s important that we consider our environmental footprint as a part of measuring our impact. It’s one thing to fund environmental efforts locally, and another to be willing to look at our own practices as a staff, to lead by example,” said Benjamin Oliver, Challenge Scholars Advisor.

Oliver also noted that Grand Rapids is growing as a city, which impacts how individuals are changing their travel habits. He encourages everyone to explore walking, biking and busing. These options may not work for everyone but he hopes it may encourage a shift away from single-occupant vehicles.

For Active Commute Week, any Grand Rapids Community Foundation employee who registers and records just even one active commute will get a jean day or a chunk of points toward a day off. An internal Active Commute Week committee is even offering employees personalized commuting plans to better explain all of the different mobility options.

 Are you participating in the Active Commute Week Challenge?

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