Faculty and staff commuters: UO students are here to help

Faculty and staff commuters: UO students are here to help

It’s about time University of Oregon faculty and staff caught up with students – and LiveMove may be able to help.

In a 2009 survey from the Office of Sustainability, about 50 percent of faculty and staff reported driving alone each day in their commute to campus. That compares to the 11 percent of students who drive alone, the rest taking advantage of alternative transportation such as biking, walking, and riding public transit.

Something must be keeping faculty and staff from commuting in those cleaner ways, and the students in LiveMove want to encourage them to overcome whatever it is that’s keeping them behind the wheel.

LiveMove is a student organization composed primarily of Public Planning, Policy and Management students, says Paul Leitman, a LiveMove member and graduate student of Community and Regional Planning. The group’s mission: “Promote healthy, sustainable communities by integrating transportation and livability through collaboration, education, research and outreach.”

LiveMove’s new initiative, the Commuting Companions program, is right in line with the mission and the values of sustainable transportation.

Leitman says Commuting Companions is a program for faculty and staff to be paired with LiveMove students as a consultants for alternative transportation. Students will act as mentors, answering any questions participants might have, and even accompanying them on a few commutes to help them get used to any changes.

“Sometimes it’s scary to change how you get to work,” says Leitman. “Partnering up with LiveMove and the Commuting Companions program really clears that up and helps the faculty member understand what their options are.”

In the true spirit of service, the Commuting Companions mentor relationship is flexible to fit a given participant’s needs and expectations. “It’s whatever the faculty member wants to get out of it,” Leitman says.

Faculty and staff engaged in the program will collaborate with their student mentors to determine what they need to effectively switch to sustainable forms of transportation. Mentors will be able to help with everything from answering basic questions on which routes to take, to accompanying participants to the bike shop to pick out fenders and lights.

For Leitman, sustainable travel is not just about saving the environment. He says he has fun walking, biking, and taking public transit to campus. Beyond that, “it’s convenient to leave your car at home,” says Leitman. He cites exercise and time to read or do extra work on the bus as added bonuses to ditching your car and heading to campus in new ways.

“Right now we’re just in the stage of getting the word out and asking if any faculty or staff members are interested in getting involved,” Leitman says.

Though LiveMove is still in its beginning stages, and no faculty or staff members have signed on to be paired with mentors yet, Leitman’s enthusiasm signals hope for a successful and beneficial program.

“Livemove is just really excited about this opportunity,” says Leitman. “We strongly support walking, biking and taking alternate modes of transportation, and we’re just really excited to show other people how much we care and that we want to help them make smart commuting decisions.”

If you’re interested in learning more about Commuting Companions, contact Paul Leitman at [email protected].

– by Dillon Pilorget, UO Office of Strategic Communications intern

This article was reposted from Around the O.

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