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The Daily Tar Heel

Chapel Hill pushes alternative transportation Fridays

Businesses asked to take challenge

Chapel Hill unveiled its newest program aimed at encouraging alternative methods of transportation at a Friday conference.

The “Feeling Great Fridays” program, which is set to begin in January, is the next step in an ongoing effort to discourage people from driving to work alone.

The town announced the program to representatives from local businesses at the annual Go Chapel Hill Transportation Management conference.

“What we’re striving for with our new ‘Feeling Great Fridays’ program is that people will, on Fridays, make a concerted effort to bicycle or to walk or to use Chapel Hill Transit or Triangle Transit to get to and from work,” said Len Cone, Chapel Hill transportation demand management coordinator.

Cone said Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt hopes to foster competition through the program.

“In January, the mayor is going to throw down the gauntlet and issue a challenge to the business community,” she said. “We’re really going to be seeing the spirit of Chapel Hill come out on this one.”

Participants will log the miles they travel by alternative methods online for a chance to win prizes.

A Transportation Demand Management grant will fund the program along with support from the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce and the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, Cone said.

Special use permit applicants will have to develop and update a plan to encourage their employees to use alternative modes of transportation.

“It’s marginally successful, but better than not doing anything,” said David Walser, who represented the UNC Center for School Leadership Development.

“Chapel Hill said, ‘Hey, we’ve got parking problems, and we don’t want to have to expand our road system as the town grows, so when we build new buildings, we’ll do what we can to get the building management to foster ride-sharing and alternative means of transportation.’”

In a recent transportation survey that was also discussed at the conference, many employees said they would prefer to stay home and work over the internet, rather than commute at all.

“We started counting telework in ’09, and it’s such a high percentage,” said survey analyst Michael Ousdahl. “It’s third after carpooling.”

Beyond informing businesses of available services, the conference also tries to convince business to use them, Walser said.

“A lot of people don’t really want to be here,” he said. “The people that are putting it on are doing a really good job of trying to get us excited about this.”

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