JANUARY 20, 1997
Northshore School District employee Terry Switzler uses a bicycle to run errands. He plans to use it to commute in the spring.
Photo by Andrew Walgamott/staff.
The Northshore School District has been named one of 15 winners of the Commuter Challenge's annual Diamond Awards. The awards recognize innovative employee transportation programs, outstanding management support, and leadership in reducing commute trips throughout 1996.
Why encourage employees to bicycle and walk?
Lacking a budget for commuting subsidies, Northshore School District has had to be creative with its employee commuting program. Transportation Coordinator Craig Phillips put on his thinking cap a couple of years ago and created a non-motorized program that is a model of ingenuity and of leveraging existing resources.
The Bothell Police Station donated 10 unclaimed bicycles to the school district. Several local bike shops sold helmets to Phillips at cost. The fleet of bicycles is available for employees to use for lunch or errands during the day and can be checked out for commuting and weekend use. The two-wheeled form of transportation has caught on with campus supervisors (who use them to patrol school campuses rather than use vehicles), the stadium maintenance crew, and administration staff who borrow them for daytime errands.
"This is a pretty big complex," employee Terry Switzler says of the Ricketts Administration compound. He has been using bikes for two years to run errands on the campus. "The bikes help out and save us time. I'd be worn to a frazzle if I had to hoof it around here."
Phillips has enticed up to five commuters at a time to try the bicylces for six months as a trial step toward purchasing their own.
Northshore employees have another innovative way to get to work in a pinch or on a snow day. Since most staff live near one of the district's 33 schools, employees can walk to the nearest school and hitch a ride on a school bus.
Because Phillips moonlights as a cartoonist, he was able to create a series of humorous commuting cartoons that drew staff to the commuting information board on a weekly basis. Northshore Schools are saving money on gas and the maintenance of campus vehicles. Bicycling employees are happier and healthier, and Phillips keeps them laughing and interested in alternative commuting modes with a little levity.
An evaluation of the program shows that out of the 144 people on the school district adminstration staff, up to 5 are regular bicyclists. In addition, there are 2 walkers and 1 telecommuter, and 54 employees are working on staggered non-peak shifts.