COLUMBIA HEIGHTS, Minn. – (Nov. 7) – Twelve Twin Cities organizations and four individuals today received Commuter Choice Awards for innovation in helping people get to work without adding to traffic congestion. Awards were presented at an event in Columbia Heights.
Metro Transit and the region’s Transportation Management Organizations (TMOs) – 494 Commuter Services, Anoka County Commute Solutions, Minneapolis Commuter Connection and St. Paul Smart Trips – sponsor the annual Commuter Choice Awards to recognize organizations, employers and individuals for their work to support or promote commuting options, including taking transit, bicycling, carpooling, vanpooling, walking and telecommuting. (See select photos below.)
Commuter Choice Awards were presented to these employers and organizations:
Best Buy corporate headquarters was recognized for its support of employee benefits that encourage smart commute options. The company subsidizes the full cost of the Metropass transit pass program and provides a range of onsite amenities that encourage ridesharing and bicycling to work.
City of St. Paul won an award for initiatives that promote transportation options throughout the community. Among them, the city was recognized for its support of the region’s next light-rail line, expected to begin service in 2014. In addition, the city participated in the Share the Road pedestrian safety campaign and worked with Nice Ride Minnesota to expand 26 bike-sharing stations in the city. Among other noted efforts, the city supported the launch of ZAP Twin Cities bike commuting system and designed and approved three bicycle boulevards.
Haberman marketing firm of Minneapolis earned recognition for its advocacy for sustainable living, both with clients the firm works with and its employees. As an agency, Haberman is known for representing clients whose missions embody the principals of sustainable business and living. As an employer, the firm encourages an office culture and provides employee benefits that support sustainable transportation choices. As a result, nearly half of the firm’s employees get to work using a commuting option other than driving alone.
Hennepin County was recognized for providing a variety of transportation options for the public and county employees. Among the options, the county offers bicycle parking at all of its public service centers and offers bike lockers. In addition, the county staffs a help desk that provides visitors with transportation information when requested. The county also subsidizes part of the cost for employees to buy an unlimited-ride Metropass.
Inland Management Group
, which manages the IDS Center in downtown Minneapolis, won honors for providing bike racks for the public and three levels of secure bike parking for its tenants, along with hosting a Nice Ride Minnesota
bike-sharing station. The property management firm also supported the redesign of the Marquette and 2nd avenues
transitway project and hosts an interactive transportation information kiosk in the Crystal Court.
Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) was praised for its support of bicycle commuting this year. At the agency’s central office in St. Paul, MnDOT added shower facilities for bicyclists, bike lockers and bike racks. In addition, the agency sponsored Nice Ride Minnesota’s expansion in St. Paul and formed a bike club that organizes a fitness ride one day every month.
Minnesota Valley Transit Authority received an award for developing ways to expand ridership while improving service to its customers. This past summer, the transit provider re-opened the Apple Valley Transit Station, now a multi-modal station that serves express buses on one end and will serve METRO Red Line buses when that line begins operating on Cedar Avenue next year.
Mississippi Market Natural Food Co-op earned recognition for encouraging smart commute options among its staff and customers. Among its achievements, Mississippi Market sponsors Bike Walk Week, hosts a Nice Ride Minnesota bike-sharing station and offers classes to help customers embrace bicycle commuting. In addition, the store created a promotion offering a discount on groceries to customers who bike to the store. Mississippi Market also participates in the HourCar car-sharing program and provides a hub for an HourCar at one of its locations.
Penn Cycle was named Organization of the Year for getting the top score among nominees in the organization category. Among its achievements, Penn Cycle provided free bicycle safety checks at 35 employer and community events. Additionally, the bike shop donated tune-ups for 5,000 bikes that Free Bikes 4 Kids provided to disadvantaged youth.
University of Minnesota Parking and Transportation Services received Employer of the Year for earning the top score among employers nominated for an award. Among its accomplishments, the department opened a new bike center that provides bike repair services, a retail store, secure bike parking, shower facilities, classes and an electronic bike trip-planning kiosk. The bike center also is the base for an innovative radio frequency identification system, which permits enrolled bicyclists to earn benefits and biking-related incentives by simply validating their bike trips.
University of St. Thomas was recognized for its promotion of commuting options to both employees and students. The university increased its subsidy for the College Pass transit pass program, has expanded bicycle parking on its campuses as well as sponsoring a Nice Ride Minnesota bike sharing station on campus.
Western National Insurance, Edina, received an award for its leadership in developing a telework program, allowing employees at one of its offices to work from home.
Commuter Choice Awards were also presented to these individuals:
Russ Boverhuis won an award for encouraging those who commute by bicycle to work. He has tracked and published bicycle commuting statistics for co-workers at Travelers in downtown St. Paul and wraps up the biking season by organizing an event at work to honor bicycle commuters. Boverhuis was named Commuter of the Year for receiving the highest score among those nominated in the category for individuals.
Mike Madden was recognized for his advocacy in St. Paul, where he lives. Madden is co-founder of Neighborhoods First, an organization that promotes multi-modal options on Ayd Mill Road, including the addition of more green space. He owns a painting business and commutes by bicycle to worksites, carrying materials on a homemade trailer attached to his bike. Madden is known as a persistent, knowledgeable and committed proponent for biking, walking and transit in St. Paul.
Charlie Stark, of Northfield, won a Lifetime Achievement Award for his advocacy work, especially related to vanpooling. For many years, he was driver of a vanpool from Northfield to the Twin Cities. His vanpool saved more than one million vehicle miles traveled over 10 years. Stark was commended for his active support of transportation options in his hometown, coordinating carpools with Northfield residents to arts and cultural events in the Twin Cities on weekends.
Melissa Wenzel shows her commitment to commuting options in a variety of ways. She has been car-free by choice for four years and has organized commuter fairs and Nice Ride Minnesota bike-sharing events at Minnesota Pollution Control Agency in St. Paul, where she works. She is known as a resource for others who want to change their transportation habits.
Metro Transit, a service of the Metropolitan Council, is the transportation resource for the Twin Cities, offering an integrated network of buses and trains as well as resources for those who carpool, vanpool, walk, bike or telework.
(Editors: For information, call John Siqveland, public relations manager, 612-349-7089 or via e-mail at email@example.com)
Minnesota Department of Transportation
University of Minnesota Parking and Transportation Services
University of St. Thomas
Western National Insurance
Mike Madden (second from right) and friends