Published February 18, 2014
Volume 22, Number 2

Incentives Entice Workers to Join Great Race for Clean Air
Great Race for Clean Air

By Zoe Francis

A little friendly competition and lots of great gift cards are the secret ingredients for getting workers to take part in this year’s Great Race for Clean Air.
The goal of the two-month spring program is to encourage workers to give up their solo driving habits in favor of more ecologically friendly alternatives. The program is hosted by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.
“The program was started to encourage people to get out of their cars and into commuting alternatives like walking, biking, carpooling, vanpooling and riding transit,” Tom Flannigan, district spokesman, said. “The ultimate goal is to reduce greenhouse gases and smog here in the Bay Area.”
The program started in the fall of 2010, but this year is being moved to the spring as a kickoff for the district’s summer Spare the Air program that runs May through September.
“We hope that by moving the Great Race to the spring, that will help people rethink their commutes before we get to that critical period in the summertime,” Flannigan noted. “The summer Spare the Air program is meant to bring awareness to high levels of ground level ozone, known more commonly as smog. It’s a pollution issue and a public health issue.”
The fourth annual Great Race for Clean Air kicks off March 1 and runs through April 30. Employees are encouraged to sign up online to spur friendly competition with co-workers and qualify for weekly prizes.
“Employees can log their daily commute activity in the online journal,” Flannigan said. “All participating employees will be eligible for prize winnings and gift cards to local businesses.”
The online log to track participation in the Great Race is easy to use and may be done at the participant’s convenience. Many people check in just once a week to log their activities and see how they measure up to colleagues and other Bay Area workers.
“People here in the Bay Area want to try different things to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the smog,” Flannigan said. “Sometimes they need a catalyst to organize their efforts. This is a way to organize companies across the bay and at the same time compete in a friendly way to help the environmental health of the Bay Area.”
During the last event, Bay Area employees saved roughly 674 tons of smog-producing CO2 by choosing alternatives to driving alone. Since the program started in 2010, participants have kept more than 2,000 tons of CO2 from the air -- equal to removing 378 cars from the road for an entire year.
“This is a friendly competition between Bay Area businesses to get people to start thinking about creative alternatives to their commutes,” Flannigan said. “Employees generally have a lot of options, but this kind of race helps them change up their commuting because they’re able to do it with the support of their employers and their fellow employees. And the prizes in the end don’t hurt either. It’s always fun to win something.”
Employers must first sign up at this link before employees can take part: https://rideshare.511.org/mlr/Greatrace/
Employees may sign up at sparetheair.org/Get-Involved/Great-Race-for-Clean-Air.aspx
The Great Race for Clean Air is sponsored by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District in partnership with 511 Rideshare, the Peninsula Traffic Congestion Relief Alliance, 511 Contra Costa and the San Francisco Department of the Environment.


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