Becoming Clean Commuter of the Year

What did it take to win Clean Commuter of the Year in 2015? 93 trips. A little motivation. Planning. Encouragement from friends and coworkers. An employer actively supporting smart commuting.

2015’s winner – Emma Jones – is a regular clean commuter. She takes advantage of her employer’s support for telecommuting and connects her cycling with the bus on days she’s heading to the office. But she doesn’t stop with the daily commute; because she lives in town, she can and does use her bike and her feet to get around for errands and social outings.

This post isn’t just a success story about our winner. It’s a post on how you can be a successful clean commuter, too. more

Reasons To Ride: The People

If you are like me, you may be feeling increasingly detached from real, in-person contact with other people. I keep up with my friends on social media, communicate with my professors largely through email, attend some of my classes online, and (when I’m not on the bus) drive in my car alone. Yes, I see my classmates and coworkers daily, but new conversations with new people seem few and far between. In public places, where it used to be common for random people to strike up conversations, most people are now silently absorbed in their phones or earbuds, hesitant to chat.


Reasons To Ride: Money Savings

Hi folks! This week has been a great week. It’s finally starting to feel like spring in the valley, a few buds have appeared by the bus stop, and I’m feeling more on top of my work (see last week’s blog post: Reasons to Ride: Getting Things Done). My bus rides this week were relaxing, productive, and featured an eclectic mix of lovely people (stay tuned for next weeks post: Reasons To Ride: The People.) Also thanks in part to the Smart Way, I’m feeling better about my savings account this week, which brings me to this week’s topic…


RIDE Solutions Launches New Transit Tool with Google Maps

ROANOKE, VA (Dec 11, 2012) – RIDE Solutions has partnered with regional transit providers Valley Metro and RADAR to provide up-to-date routing and schedule information via Google Maps. The Google Maps service will now provide transit options for trips anywhere in the Roanoke Valley and Alleghany Highlands region in addition to the Smartway and Smartway Connector routes between Blacksburg and Lynchburg.

The trip planner can be found at,, and, as well as directly through Google Maps. The tool can also be accessed through smartphones and tablets through the Google Maps app or web browser. “Trip planning via Google Maps will allow us to reach out to new customers and provide them with an alternative to driving by overcoming the biggest fear about riding the bus: the fear of missing it,” said Jeremy Holmes, RIDE Solutions Program Director. “Through Google Maps, we can now tell you your exact bus number, arrival time, transfer and rate information, everything you need to know.”

Planning a trip is easy. From the RIDE Solutions home page at, simply enter the basic trip information by either street address, cross streets or major landmarks along with the trip date and desired arrival or departure times – for same day service or many weeks in advance. The Trip Planner will then display several options from which to choose. Each option will include directions to and from the nearest bus stop; applicable route numbers including any transfer information; and, total travel times for each trip option.

“This is truly a regional effort,” says Wayne Strickland, Executive Director of RIDE Solutions’ parent organization, the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission. “Not only does the tool support all the major transit services in our region, it allows you to plan a single trip across all of them. Now, you can plan a single bus trip from Blacksburg, to Roanoke, to Lynchburg, all with the assistance of Google Maps.”

RIDE Solutions worked with Portland, Oregon-based Trillium Transit to build the data that supports the Google Maps tool. The trip planner now supports Valley Metro, the Smart Way Bus, the Smart Way Connector, the Star Line Trolley, the Mountain Express, and the shuttles for Ferrum and Hollins universities.

RIDE Solutions is operated by the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission in partnership with the New River Valley Planning District Commission and Region 2000. It is a grant-funded program that provides multimodal trip planning services – including carpool matching, bicycle commute routing, transit assistance, and telework consultation – for citizens and employers in the Roanoke, Lynchburg and New River Valley regions and surrounding areas within southwestern Virginia.

A Focus on Transit

Now that we’ve wrapped up Bike Month 2012, it’s time to look to the rest of the year (including, yes, planning for Bike Month 2013, which will begin somewhere around November of this year.  Among the projects that await us here at RIDE Solutions – especially our long-anticipated expansion into Region 2000 and the Greater Lynchburg area – is a focus on improving access to and awareness of transit options in the region.

Transit is a bit trickier than bicycles, we’ve found, despite the fact that pretty much anyone can ride a bus regardless of fitness level, terrain, access to bike lanes, etc.  However, the nature of transit – fixed schedules, sometimes circuitous routes, occasionally impenetrable route schedules, among others – can sometimes make it difficult for folks who want to choose transit to do so.

In the coming months, we are going to concentrate on improving transit information for those who could already be using existing transit services – those who live and work within the City of Roanoke, for example, or Roanoke/NRV commuters who could be using the Smart Way – and collecting information on ways services could be improved for those whose schedules don’t match existing routes and times.  We’ll also be looking at multimodal options – carpool and bike connections, even vanpooling – and we’ll be investigating opportunities to improve access with technology.  We’re already underway getting Google Transit set up for every service in the region currently lacking it, and have already looked at potential mobile apps and other tools to help you find out where and when to catch the bus.

During this time, we’ll need a lot of information.  Complaints, compliments, suggestions.  Have you ever ridden the bus?  Why or why not?  What would get you on the bus – wi-fi, accepting credit card payments, etc.?  How do you prefer to get information about transit?

We’ll also be looking at connections among all the transit systems.  For example, when Google Transit is up and running, you’ll be able to plan a trip from Blacksburg to Lynchburg all on the bus, from Blacksburg Transit to the Smart Way to the Smart Way Connector.

Keep an eye on this space, and keep your ears open as we send out requests for help.