Parking may seem like a small piece of the transportation equation, but it plays a pivotal role in mobility planning. As part of Movability’s move to a new office, Executive Director Lisa Kay Pfannenstiel is giving up her parking spot. Movability’s employees all receive a monthly transportation stipend to use for the transportation mode of their choice; Lisa Kay had been applying that toward a parking space, but is making a switch with the move.
Q: What prompted you to decide to give up your parking spot?
A: Moving to our new offices is forcing me to give up my parking spot at the Downtown Alliance. I could purchase parking at the new building, but the cost is about 40% higher ($300 per month) than what I am used to paying! I decided that I need to walk the walk and come up with other solutions. Anticipating this move, I purchased a foldable, electric bike last fall from our partners at Mod Bikes so using it is part of my plan.
Q: What kind of preparation and research have you done to get ready for that transition?
A: I’ve checked out and done a practice ride from the park & ride on Westgate and at Congress and Ben White, I’ve downloaded the Capital Metro app, and I have been riding my e-bike.
I’ve practiced both riding the bike the entire 13 miles to the office, and riding to the Westgate Transit Center to practice putting the bike on the bike rack on the front of the bus. The Capital Metro drivers were very helpful and let me try several times. I’ve also been riding on the weekend to get in shape and to make certain that I know how to use all the bells and whistles on my bike.
At our new building, I have checked out the bike parking in the garage and confirmed with the building’s management that I can store my bike in my office. The bike folds so she won’t take up much room
And finally, in March, I’m planning to take a free lesson from new member Revel. Those little mopeds look like so much fun!
Q: What are you looking forward to, and what are you most concerned about when it comes to giving up a parking spot?
A: The number one thing that I’m looking forward to is getting out of downtown faster each day. Sometimes it can take me 20+ minutes to get from 6th and Congress to the river. Eliminating that frustration and doing ANYTHING other than being angered by traffic will be great. I’m very curious to see how much money I save in gas each month. My single-occupancy vehicle commute will decrease about 40% so it will be fun to see how much money that saves me.
I’m also looking forward to ultimately saving time. On the days that I ride my bike, even if it is just to or from the park & ride, I will not need to go to the gym. And I’m looking forward to the health benefits of an active commute! Eventually I hope to ride my bike round-trip, the entire way, without needing to take the next day off to recover!
Clothing and hair are worries. I will have to have a change of clothes at work and the logistics of that is daunting.
Flat tires are also a worry! Yikes. Thankfully, Mod Bikes has training classes – which I need to take!
I’m also concerned with getting to meetings during the work day. I will have to plan my days, my attire, and my commutes with more intention and time. This will also affect staff because sometimes we all benefitted from the fact that I had a car close by.
Q: What advice do you have for downtown employers and employees looking to make a similar change?
A: Planning ahead can make what seems like an impossible change totally doable. Changing behaviors and ingrained habits is never easy, but it’s not insurmountable. I think my practice runs on the bike and bus have been critical to making this a successful switch. For instance, I’ve learned: that the style of my electric bike doesn’t allow it to be placed on the bus rack in the first position as it blocks the line-of-site of the driver, and I will always have to put the bike in the middle position or the position that is closest to the bus; there is this cool head scarf called a Buff that will hopefully help control my hair; I purchased a really cool saddle bag which will safely hold my computer and an array of other stuff.
Many of Movability’s members join or add to their services when they are moving to a new office space. A move is, after all, a natural time to consider mobility policies and how those play a role in your company’s culture, benefits, and costs.
Movability is growing and needs more space, so we’re looking at options for our own office. We are documenting that process in a series that we’ll publish in our newsletter and on our website. We hope this will give other employers insights into what questions to ask, details to take into consideration, and plans to make when thinking about commutes as part of a move.