By Hilary Reeves, Strategic Advancement & Communications Director
Minnesota Public Radio staff, Lauren Koshere, was in attendance at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Annual Conference where her organization and seventeen others were recognized as Transportation Leaders.
This fall, eighteen nonprofit organizations in the Twin Cities metro are demonstrating their multimodal mojo by being certified as Transportation Leaders through our program at Transit for Livable Communities! Varied in size and mission, all have committed to changing workplace policies and practices to incorporate different ways of getting around, such as transit, bicycling, walking, and sharing. These organizations will be recognized at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Annual Conference in Saint Paul and in a series of ads running in Green Line trains this season.
What is multimodal mojo? Multimodal means using more than one mode of transportation. Multimodal mojo means being adaptable, independent, and getting where you need to go by knowing your transportation options and utilizing not just one, but a combination of them.
What changes are Transportation Leaders making? All eighteen have committed to six minimum steps, one of which is to make sure that when they give directions, they say what buses or trains run nearby and give information about bike routes, the location of bike parking, and any nearby hubs for bike or car sharing, along with how to drive or park a car. Another minimum step is to make it a priority to choose locations for events or meetings that are accessible by transit or options other than driving alone and to not validate for parking unless they also validate for other modes.
Organizations certified as Transportation Leaders in 2015 were recognized in front of their peers this month at a keynote session during the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Annual Conference in Saint Paul.
There are good reasons for nonprofits to be upfront about options. For one, using different ways of getting places, especially in combination (bus and bike, walking and car or bike share) can be easier on the wallet than owning and operating a personal vehicle. And with lower air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, these options are easier on the environment as well.
For another, fostering workplace culture that is accepting of other modes means welcoming the growing numbers of people of all ages and backgrounds using them. As Minnesota’s population changes, it’s important to know that nationally bicycling has grown fastest among black/African American, Asian, and Hispanic/Latino communities and that seniors and millennials prefer places where it’s possible to walk, bicycle, or take transit.
The nine organizations at the highest level of Transportation Leadership—“multimodal max”—all have agreed to make it their organizational policy to say to their employees: we’ll compensate you for using multimodal options to get to work. These employers, for example, contribute to the cost of a transit pass, make it easy for employees to buy passes on a pre-tax basis (a savings of 20-30 percent), and/or directly pay employees who commute by bicycling, walking, or transit. (e.g., Rode your bike today or so many times this month? Here’s some additional cash for you.)
The nine organizations certified at the highest level—Multimodal Max Transportation Leaders—are the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, Fresh Energy, Hope Community, Lifetrack, The McKnight Foundation, Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, Minnesota Literacy Council, Minnesota Public Radio, and Operation de Novo.
Workplaces that embrace options are by definition more flexible. They also are looking out for employees, making it possible for them to save money in household budgets and be healthier by mixing options into the commute. Several of the organizations at the higher levels of certification have expanded bike parking, set up organizational memberships in car or bike sharing, and set up spaces for employees to shower, freshen up, and change clothes when they arrive in active ways.
The six organizations certified as Multimodal More Transportation Leaders, the second level of certification, are Conservation Corps of MN and IA, Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota, Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota, Neighborhood Energy Connection, Springboard for the Arts, and The Trust for Public Land.
One of the other minimum steps all organizations have committed to is to find out which employees know about multimodal transportation options—how to take the bus or commute by bike or use apps—and to ask these people to be internal resources for other employees. All organizations have committed to make options part of new hire orientation.
One in a series of five ads recognizing certified Transportation Leader organizations for encouraging multimodal options at their workplaces. Watch for the ads in Green Line trains this fall!
All certified organizations participated this spring and summer in Rethinking Transportation workshops, which combined both direct experience of different modes—ride the bus, try the Nice Ride bikes, find out how car sharing works—and discussion of ways transportation decisions affect health, finances, environment, and workplace culture. Each of the organizations asked their staff to complete a travel tracking survey to see how employees get to work and how they get around during the day.
Congratulations and thanks to Transportation Leaders! You’re setting a new standard of what it means to go places in the Twin Cities—for your employees, your organizations, and the communities you serve.
Thanks as well to the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits for partnering with Transit for Livable Communities on this project to establish nonprofit best practices in the workplace. And big thanks to the funding that made this exploration possible. The biggest chunk came from federal funds to improve air quality by getting people to try different ways of getting to work—Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality funding from the Federal Transit Administration, awarded through a competitive process administered by the Metropolitan Council. The Central Corridor Funders Collaborative also generously funded this work because a lot of it has occurred along the Green Line.
For information about the next Rethinking Transportation workshop and being certified as a Transportation Leader, contact Hilary Reeves at 651-789-1415 or firstname.lastname@example.org.