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Tag Archives: Green Commuting

How Your Commute Can Make You Happier

Happy-Commute

Happy-CommuteCommuting to work can be traffic-laden, tedious and dreadful. But it turns out there's a way to lighten the load, and it starts with picking the right transportation mode. According to a paper published last month in the journal Sustainability, the way we commute can affect our sense of happiness and well-being. In particular, sustainable commutes can reduce bad feelings and lead to greater contentment.

Using the Gallup Healthways Well-Being Index (WBI) and commute data from 187 U.S. cities for one year, researchers from four universities looked at the relationship between sustainable transportation modes in metropolitan areas and individual well-being. The WBI is based on five elements: physical well-being, community well-being, social well-being, financial well-being and purpose, and associated career well-being.

The general pattern of results indicated that regions that favor sustainable commute modes over driving-alone had higher well-being scores, even when controlling for other important predictors of happiness. Driving alone was associated with lower well-being scores, whereas carpool and non-motorized modes were associated with higher well-being scores.

Automobile use has been found to increase boredom, social isolation and stress, while active transportation users (walkers and cyclists) have significantly higher self-reported happiness levels than those who drive—even when accounting for differences in income, health and attitudes about travel.

Physically active commute modes likewise have been shown to reduce the number of sickness incidences over time. Commuters who bike or walk report better health, lower exhaustion and stress, and fewer missed workdays than their counterpart car commuters.

The study also suggested that providing incentives for commuters to use more sustainable commute options could offer greater opportunity for happiness than those that do not. This summer we launched the new Bruin Commuter Transit Benefit Program, which gives eligible faculty, staff and students the opportunity to try public transit free for one full quarter.

Happiness can be influenced by transportation systems—with sustainable infrastructure and policies potentially enhancing quality of life. Being able to begin and end the workday in a less stressful manner can contribute to physiological and psychological wellness.

These findings demonstrate more sustainable transportation modes are associated with well-being, with the evidence presented supporting the notion that commute mode affect the pursuit of happiness.

Ready for a brighter future by changing your commute habit? See what alternative transportation programs we offer on our website.

 

 

Southern California Leads the Nation in Air Pollution Deaths

Los Angeles Smog

Los Angeles SmogFor Southern California natives, air pollution has been an issue we face every day. Unfortunately, a recent study paints a picture of just how bad the smog really is.

Researchers have found that more than a thousand people are actually dying each year as a result of Southern California’s infamously bad air quality. Pollution levels constantly exceed what's considered safe by health professionals.

And Los Angeles is the city with the most fatal air pollution in the entire nation, with a total of 1,341 estimated annual deaths. Riverside comes in at second worst with 808 deaths.

Nationally, air pollution related deaths were estimated to be at around 9,320 per year, a number large enough to account for the annual amount of deaths caused by drunk driving.

In addition to these deaths, researchers also found that about 3,225 people in the LA area will be hospitalized due to heart, cardiac or acute respiratory related illnesses because of air pollution.airpollution

It is more clear than ever that changes need to be made. There has never been a more appropriate time to make some lifestyle changes. Given that the transportation sector is now the largest source of pollution in the U.S., we encourage every one to try some form of alternative transportation.

Did you know that walking for two miles a day can decrease your risk of heart disease by up to 40%? Or that people who switch their commute mode from driving to public transit lose approximately seven pounds in the first year?

UCLA Transportation makes it especially easy for all commuters to ditch the solo vehicle trips and opt for something a little more green. We provide free bikes to eligible employees, affordable $60 bike rentals for students, free quarterly transit passes, one free month of vanpool, discounted carpool parking permits, annual monetary incentives for walkers, and more.

Fix our air, fix your commute, fix your health, fix your peace of mind. Be conscious of the risks outlined in this new study. Above all, be a green commuter.

 

Best Places in the US for Green Living

GreenAppCommuting

GreenAppCommutingThe idea of a sustainable city—one where both the city and its residents do their part in maintaining a green environment—may seem like a pipe dream, but there are cities right here in the U.S. that are making that dream a reality. When examining cities in the nation based on transportation, waste management, quality of the environment, urban sprawl and alternative energy sources, these locales offer sustainable havens for individuals looking to lead green lifestyles.

GREEN FACTORS

To gain a better understanding of what makes a city environmentally conscious, there are several factors that need to be taken into account:

  • Waste Management: Waste management refers to directing waste away from disposal and toward different means of recyclability or "looping." With the space available for landfills diminishing and the sheer volume of garbage created by individuals, finding ways to cut back on waste has become a priority for cities focused on green living.
  • Transportation: It is assumed that a city's available commuting options will effect it citizens' transportation decisions, and therefore, lifestyle choices. The evaluation of the number of workers who bike, carpool, walk or take public transportation help determine the "greenness" of a city.
  • Air Quality: Likewise, the evaluation of the effects of a city's pollution levels on its residents' health determines the quality of environment. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) daily Air Quality Index offers a good idea of a location's environment quality as it gauges ozone levels, as well as the levels of carbon monoxide, Conceptual mini planet green parks along with skyscrapers and roads. Calmness in city chaos. One of a series. Isolated.nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide in the air; these all can have detrimental effects on human health. A moderate score in the EPA's Air Quality Index is less than 100. The scores rise as air quality diminishes.
  • Population: Additionally, the degree of urban sprawl can be used to evaluate sustainability in that high housing density equates to higher need for transportation and greater use of resources. So the number of residential buildings that house tenants in the double digits offers insight into the utilization and depreciation of a city's resources.
  • Energy: The sources of energy used to power individuals' homes can also be very telling of a city's sustainability. The use of wood- and coal-based forms of energy in homes and businesses are considered to have a negative impact on a location's environmental soundness due to its harmful emissions. Solar energy is considered cleaner and more sustainable, so the number of buildings using each can be used to calculate the overall effects of energy sources on a city.

GREENEST CITIES

With all of these factors considered, which U.S. locations provide the highest degrees of sustainability and green lifestyles? Here are four cities that are making strides.

  • Burlington, Vermont stands out due to several unique programs to support sustainability, such as a communal compost facility where grocery stores, food suppliers and restaurants bring their biodegradable food scraps, and where landscapers and residents drop off the leaves and clippings from their yards. When the compost is ready, the rich soil is sold to farmers and gardeners in the area.
  • Honolulu, Hawaii is first in the nation in the category of air quality, as the sunny Pacific climate has led to many residents and businesses employing solar energy. The city was awarded the EPA's highest classification on the Air Quality Index in 2014 with a rating of 27.
  • New York, New York ranks surprisingly high on the list of greenest cities in the U.S. When considering the Big Apple's efficient subway system and expansive public transportation options, it is no surprise that more than 50% of the city's commuters opt for public transportation. NYC also boasts a comprehensive recycling plan. The opportunities for green living draw many to the city, and its boroughs host varying services. If you're scouting for apartments to rent in NYC, be sure to look at the eco-friendly opportunities each has to offer.
  • San Francisco, California, given the city's long history of environmentalism, was a natural contender for the list of greenest cities. The Bay Area ranks high in many categories. The number of homes that are solar-dependent doubles the national average of only seven in every 10,000, and one tenth of San Francisco commuters opt to hike to work.

 

Green Ways to Get Around Campus in Style

For SoCal college students meandering through campus, walking is typically the most common mode of transportation. But arriving at point B from point A at UCLA on two feet can become cumbersome. The trip to campus from dorms or apartments day after day can feel more like a trek than a walk. And if you ever want to venture beyond campus for an internship or Santa Monica beach day, driving in L.A. traffic can appear especially grim.

Here's how you can minimize travel time throughout campus and even the city while looking good and reducing your carbon footprint (since going green is a trend that's always in style).

Bike

Biking is the fastest way to maneuver around Westwood Village and the UCLA campus. If biking is your thing, then you have two options. Your first option is to invest in your own bike to fit your lifestyle. Do you want a durable mountain bike to take offroading or a fun fixie to ride while dodging traffic? Buy one at the UCLA Bike Shop or at Helen's Cycles in Westwood.

You second, more convenient and affordable option is to rent a Bruin Bike from the UCLA Bike Library. Students only pay $60 per quarter. Employees get free two-week rentals through our Commuter Bike Loaner Program. You'll ride a deluxe hybrid city-style 8-speed cruiser, even equipped with a cup holder for your coffee. Don't forget a Herschel messenger bag to store all your books and belongings as you ride around campus.

Longboard

"Longboarding is a quick and cool way to get around in the SoCal sunshine," says the Daily Bruin. On a longboard, you can cruise around campus with better balance because of its larger size. Traveling to and from class is just another way to enjoy the California breeze while gliding along the streets. Think of longboarding as surfing on wheels and riding the waves of concrete hills, so make each ride an enjoyable — and stylish — one.

To look the part, longboarders need a solid pair of Nike sneakers for maintaining that comfortable stance. The right hat and sunglasses are also required (for safety reasons, of course) to keep the sun out of your eyes and to prevent hitting pedestrians. You'll have to carry the board to take the stairs and head into buildings; just consider the extra exercise as a bonus.

Razor Scooter

If locking up a bike or carrying around a longboard is too much of a hassle, resort to the razor scooter. It's lightweight transportation, and it transfers you faster than walking. Scootering also has charming appeal as you zigzag through campus. Reminiscent of childhood, the scooter is a fun and amusing way to travel. It even offers enhanced safety with its adjustable handlebars and rear wheel brake. You maintain greater control, especially during lunch rush hour when foot traffic throughout campus is heavy.

Public Transit

For those times when a longboard or scooter won't get you to downtown or over to West L.A., various types of transportation are available without using your car and gas. These can take you to your destination on campus or to city hotspots. Plus, we've made it even easier to get around the city with this guide.

For more information on green transportation at UCLA, check out the UCLA Transportation website.

5 Ways Riding a Bike Can Help Save the World

BikeToWork

BikeToWorkYou may have implemented bicycle riding as part of your fitness regimen. Or maybe you’ve toured your neighborhood on your cruiser, enjoying the scenery. But have you ever considered ditching your vehicle as a primary form of transportation in favor of your bicycle? Easier said than done, particularly if you live in a remote area. However, it’s worth a shot if you live close to work and other business establishments. Let's look at the five ways it's better for you, your community and the environment:

  1. Eco-Friendly Option: Only a fraction of the energy required to manufacture automobiles is required for RecycleTreethe production a bicycle. And as for maintenance, all you have to do is properly inflate the tires and pedal along to put your bicycle into motion, unlike automobiles which require a functional battery, motor oil and gasoline, all harmful to the environment.

    To help put things into perspective, an automobile produces approximately 1.3 billion cubic yards of contaminated air and emits 40 pounds of debris from brakes and worn tires into the atmosphere, according to Bike to Work Day. Furthermore, National Geographic reports automobiles are responsible for more than 30 percent of carbon dioxide, 80 percent of carbon monoxide and approximately 50 percent of nitrogen oxide emissions in the United States annually.

    Thinking you’re better off with a hybrid? While they are generally more environmentally friendly, The Wall Street Journal reports hybrids also produce 14,000 pounds of carbon during the manufacturing process.
  1. Health Benefits: Choosing your bicycle over your automobile also comes with myriad health benefits. On average, you’ll lose 13 pounds in the first year of biking to work and save $544 in medical bills if you cycle at least 30 minutes each day, according to the Huffington Post. Furthermore, you’ll be able to get that daily workout in, even if you’re crunched for time, and possibly ditch that pricey parking spot (if you work in a metropolitan area). And even if you can only bike so far before having to rely on public transportation, you’re still doing your part in preserving the environment, since it equates to less vehicles on the highway during the morning and evening commute.
  1. It's Cheaper: According to AAA, it costs an average of $8,876 a year to own and drive a sedan 15,000 miles a year. Riding a bike will cost you the price of the bike, accessories and maintenance, which James Schwartz of Urban Country estimates to be about $350 a year. That's a dramatic difference. Biking is a less expensive way to see new cities, too; The Dig recommends exploring Minneapolis, Portland and Boulder on two wheels.
  1. Decreased Vehicle Fatalities: A study of 11 Midwestern cities revealed 1,100 deaths could be prevented and $3.8 billion saved as a result of fewer car accidents if Americans chose biking over automobiles for at least half of their errands during four months each year, reports the Huffington Post.

    Why such a drastic impact? Well, if every American residing within five or fewer miles of their workplace biked to the office for just one day a week, around one million cars would be absent from roadways across the nation. Fewer cars means fewer car accidents.
  1. Supports Small Businesses: Beyond exploring elements of your community that you may not have noticed beforehand, another benefit of cycling often overlooked is the boost provided to small businesses. Reasoning: If your preferred option is too far away to reach on a bike, you’ll be forced to give local businesses a test drive.

 
Allison Martin is a writer, financial mentor and business consultant to mommy-preneurs. Her work has been featured on ABC News, MSN Money, Yahoo! Finance, Fox Business, Credit.com and Money Talks News. When she's not writing, Allison enjoys spending time with her family and traveling.