New Year's Resolutions? Office for Sustainability New Automated Commuter Menu Can Help

New Year's Resolutions? Office for Sustainability New Automated Commuter Menu Can Help
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Are you looking to get more exercise, have more fun, get some fresh air, shrink your environmental impact or save some money in the new year? Try active transportation! Walking or riding a bike is a great, and efficient, way to get to campus.

It's healthful. There's no question that walking or biking provides excellent cardiovascular exercise, offering many health benefits, including weight loss. It lowers your blood pressure and stress levels while also reducing your risk of heart attack, hypertension and diabetes. 

It's rewarding. Besides the psychological benefits of feeling better about yourself, walking or biking also offers very clear mental benefits that boost your mood and provide you with a sense of well-being. Walking or biking also provides opportunities for deep thoughts, leading to new ideas and creativity.

It's cheap. Consider the gas, parking and upkeep on a car versus the cost of walking or biking to work. You may need to invest in a new pair of shoes or a better bike, but after that you will have minimal additional costs. 

It's fun. Driving is often stressful (or at best boring), while biking or walking is always an adventure. It's comforting to know that you are helping yourself live a longer and healthier life.

No way! If you live too far away, or there's not a safe appealing route to take, maybe use a hybrid approach where you drive, or carpool, most of the way and then walk or bike the last mile.

Curious about how to get started with active transportation? The U of A Office for Sustainability Commuter Menu can help! The Commuter Menu is a personalized door-to-door quantitative analysis of transportation options available to campus commuters. Commuting time, distance, financial costs, calories burned and greenhouse gas emissions are all calculated, and then the best overall transportation choice is recommended along with a link to a personalized map.

"For a customized evaluation of your commute, we invite you to fill out a commuter menu; this service is now available to all U of A affiliates" said Ammen Jordan, the U of A active transportation coordinator. "And, pre-made menus for popular apartment complexes can also be found on our website too. Check it out."

The Office for Sustainability launched this service in 2019, and at inception each commuter menu was made-to-order and was very time consuming. In collaboration with associate professor Matthew Patitz of the U of A Department of Computer Science and Computer Engineering, the system was completely redesigned to automatically compute trip information and send results via email. 

"Serving as software project developer for this new commuter menu has been an enriching experience. Bringing the project as close as possible to Office for Sustainability's vision has been thrilling and challenging. The project allowed me to put to practice concepts such as system design, full stack development, encoding, file management and concurrency and put it all together into a neat package that allows for easy usage and future changes," said Ronald Velasquez, B.S.Cmp.E. "We look to continually improve this service and encourage user feedback."

The Office for Sustainability's goal is that 75 percent of campus commuters use some form of alternative transportation (not driving alone) by 2025. The 2020 mode share survey showed that 57 percent of campus commuters chose alternative modes, while 43 percent drive alone. The 2021 survey is ongoing, and all U of A students, faculty and staff are encouraged to take the survey and help inform decisions around campus transportation systems. The survey can be found here.

About the Office for Sustainability: The mission of the University of Arkansas Office for Sustainability (OFS) is to motivate, facilitate, and coordinate responsible practices through partnerships with students, faculty, and staff across all campus departments. The OFS uses the campus as a living laboratory by overseeing the implementation of the University of Arkansas environmental goals.

Contacts

Ammen Jordan, active transportation coordinator
Office for Sustainability
479-575-3715, aj077@uark.edu

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