This year the Ventura County Transportation Commission and the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District are sponsoring Ride Week, Oct. 5-9. Ride Week is an opportunity for everyone to try out an alternative commute such as biking, walking, carpooling, vanpooling or riding a bus or train and win prizes for their efforts.
Ventura County drivers log upwards of 18 million miles on the region’s roads and highways every day. Each mile impacts our region in tailpipe emissions, wear and tear on local infrastructure and personal hours stuck in traffic.
As members of the business community, we should not be surprised by these numbers. Many of us choose to live, work and build companies in Ventura County because of its suburban character.
We value the rural landscapes that separate our cities and understand that they afford business and recreational opportunities that don’t exist elsewhere.
But life in paradise comes with a cost: Ventura County is so reliant on our cars, roads and highways that more than 76 percent of workers commute in solo vehicles every day.
Yet long commutes squander time and chip away at our health and well-being. Ride Week is a reminder that Ventura County doesn’t have to rely so heavily on cars. This is especially significant when you consider that about one third of our region’s workforce spends an hour or more commuting every day.
All that driving creates bottlenecks on local highways, clogging the arteries of business and commerce on the Central Coast. Transportation exhaust, according to the VCAPCD, accounts for 33 percent of all harmful CO2 emissions.
But there is good news. This Ride Week we all have a chance to become part of the solution by catching a better, cleaner, healthier ride to work.
If you, your colleagues or your employees drive alone, encourage them to visit rideweek.org and pledge to get out of their car and into an alternative ride during Ride Week. Do so and you’ll be entered to win prizes like bicycles, Fitbits, walking shoes, bus passes and more. You’ll also reap financial savings on commute costs, improve your physical fitness and socialize with friends and coworkers.
Already, nearly 13 percent of the local workforce carpools to work and many of these people got their start during Ride Weeks past.
Driving a car every day greatly impacts Ventura County’s quality of life. When workers walk, bike, carpool, telecommute or ride mass transit, even just a few times a week, they make a difference in local congestion and environmental health.
Those 18 million miles that Ventura County drivers travel each day clog and strain the road network and the environment at a time when state and federal governments are slashing transportation funds.
Encouraging employees to choose an alternative commute is a tangible step we all can take to preserve the infrastructure, environment and quality of life that make Ventura County so desirable.
• Darren Kettle is executive director of the Ventura County Transportation Commission.