By Darren Kettle
Communities across the Central Coast are gearing up for Ride Week, Oct. 3-7. The goal of the event is to make it fun and easy for all of us to try out alternative ways to commute to work.
In Ventura County, the Ventura County Transportation Commission and the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District sponsor Ride Week. Like our sister agencies in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, we know that when commuters carpool, vanpool, bike, walk and take transit, the Central Coast benefits from reduced traffic, improved air quality and a happier, healthier workforce.
Consider these statistics: Seventy-six percent of Ventura County workers drive by themselves to work and about one third of them spend an hour or more a day traveling to their job. In total, county drivers log more than 18 million miles on the region’s roads and highways each day.
We see first hand the daily economic and human toll of all that driving. Gridlock on our freeways and local highways slows business and commerce. Workers’ ever-longer commutes translate into decreased productivity and adverse health impacts, and frankly, speaking for myself, I get cranky when I have to sit in traffic.
At the same time, auto exhaust is a leading contributor to air pollution. In California, transportation exhaust accounts for 37 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, according to the state’s Air Resources Board.
Fortunately, Ride Week offers us all a chance to become part of the solution by catching a cleaner, healthier ride to work and encouraging our colleagues and employees to do the same. Visit www.rideweek.org and pledge to get out of your car and into an alternative ride just once from Oct. 3-7. When you do, you’ll be entered to win prizes such as an Apple Watch.
Yet the benefits of ridesharing go deeper than prizes. Ridesharing improves the environment, saves money and enhances relationships between co-workers.
Every year, Ride Week reminds those of us that live on the beautiful Central Coast region that we don’t have to drive alone every day, or for that matter drive a car at all.
Already, nearly 13 percent of the local workforce carpools to work, and many of these people got their start during Ride Weeks past.
On a regional level, Ride Week is a perfect time to try an inter-county transit service, like the popular VCTC Coastal Express route, which connects workers with employment centers in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. Jointly funded by VCTC and the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments, such regional transit alternatives help lessen delay, expense and stress for commuters traveling longer distances on the Central Coast.
This year’s Ride Week slogan, “VCTC Makes It Easy,” highlights the myriad services VCTC offers to facilitate convenient work commutes. As Ventura County’s go-to resource for commuters, VCTC provides reliable bus service, carpool partner matching, a free Guaranteed Home Program for workers who rideshare on a regular basis and much more.
During Ride Week — or any week — visit www.goventura.org/rideshare for details.
• Darren Kettle is the executive director of the Ventura County Transportation Commission.