Category Archives: Featured Stories

Coming to work at the UW? Here are your commute options

UW commute optionsAs you explore employment at the University of Washington, it’s a good idea to consider how you’ll get to campus. The way you get to work will be influenced by where you live, where you work and what your work schedule is, as well as your personal budget, preferences and needs. Thankfully, a wealth of commute options is available to UW faculty and staff.

If you already know where you’ll be working and what your schedule looks like, reach out to UW Transportation Services’ Commute Options service for a personalized set of commute options.  You can reach us online or, for immediate assistance, give us a call at 206-221-3701 or visit Transportation Services at 1320 NE Campus Parkway (Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.).

To review the cost of commute products that may be available to you (depending on availability and your employment classification) take a look at our current rates. Are you ready to purchase a U-PASS, secure bicycle parking, or parking permit? Review our product readiness guide to make your purchase as smooth as possible.

Here are the different ways UW employees can get to work:

WALKING – Fresh air, exercise, and ease! If you live within a few miles of campus, walking might be faster than you think. Learn how to take the first steps at transportation.uw.edu/walk.

The average cost of walking to the UW: free!

BICYCLING:

Did you know bicycling is the fastest growing form of transportation at the UW? Plentiful bicycle parking, fun events, free classes and more make the UW a gold-level Bicycle Friendly University! Learn about this fun, active option at transportation.uw.edu/bike.

The average cost of bicycling to the UW: $17 per month.

RIDING THE BUS/TRAIN:

Let someone else take the driver’s seat so you can sit back and relax. If your home isn’t within walking distance of a transit stop, consider bicycling or driving to a park-and-ride. Learn about route planning, real-time arrival information, and more at transportation.uw.edu/transit.

The average cost of riding transit to the UW: $50 per month.

CARPOOLING:

Carpooling at the UW can significantly cut your parking costs, not to mention the cost of gas, tolls, and other driving expenses. Learn how to find a carpool partner and what carpool parking options are available at transportation.uw.edu/carpool.

The average cost of carpooling to the UW: $185 per month.

VANPOOLING:

Particularly for long-distance commuters and those who do not have transit access, a vanpool can be a cost-effective, low-stress option. Join a group of five to 15 commuters in a comfortable passenger van. Learn more about vanpool fares and subsidies, forms, and how to find an existing vanpool or start a new one at transportation.uw.edu/vanpool.

The average cost of vanpooling to the UW: $130 per month.

DRIVING ALONE:

Whether you drive to campus by yourself just once in a blue moon or on a regular basis, we have a parking option for you. Learn about parking permits at transportation.uw.edu/parking.

The average cost of driving alone to the UW: $460 per month.

SHUTTLES & UCAR:

There’s no need to bring your own car to campus when you can use the well-loved UW Shuttles service and UCAR short-term rentals for your UW business transportation needs. Find shuttle routes and schedules at transportation.uw.edu/uwshuttles, and UCAR reservation information at transportation.uw.edu/fleetservices.

Drive-alone and carpool costs calculated using UW Commuter Calculator and 2015 Transportation Survey average commuting distance, commuting days per week, commuting weeks per year, 21.6 mpg (national average) and $2.29-per-gallon gasoline (Seattle average); transit costs based on faculty/staff U-PASS rate; vanpool costs based on King County Metro March 2016 invoice; walking and biking costs based on UW Commuter Calculator.

Zipcar announces more flexible service for UW students and employees

A new way to zip

Image courtesy of Zipcar.

The U-PASS program does more than just provide unlimited transit trips for University of Washington students, faculty and staff – it also gives you access to discounts on products and resources that can make it easier for you to get around without your car, or maybe even live without a car of your own.

One of those is the car-sharing service Zipcar. Zipcar is a way to borrow a car every once in a while, whenever you need one, whether for a few minutes or a few days. Now, just in time for summer, Zipcar has announced more flexible service that could make it even more useful for UW students and employees.

The big change: You can now use Zipcar for one-way trips. That means you can pick up a car from one designated Zipcar parking area and then drop it off at a different one, rather than returning to where you started. You could hop in a Zipcar near campus and take it to a spot near your home if there’s not a bus coming soon, or take a car downtown to do some shopping and then take light rail home from there.

Or, you could take a car to or from the airport. Yes, you read that correctly!  Zipcar now has a station at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

One-way Zipcar trips from locations near campus to SeaTac (or to other locations) will cost $5 each, as long as they take 30 minutes or less. And U-PASS members can become Zipcar members at a discount. Students can join for $15, with the application fee waived. (Students also receive a $1 discount on trips using Ford vehicles parked on the UW campus.) and faculty and staff can join for $35, also with no application fee.

Zipcar members can access more than 500 cars in Seattle, including cars in several spots on and near the UW campus. They can also access more than 10,000 cars in other parts of the country while traveling. Members can book cars using the Zipcar smartphone app.

You can learn more and sign up with your U-PASS discount at zipcar.com/upass.

U-PASS also qualifies you for discounts on a variety of transportation-related products and services, including memberships for car2go, another car-sharing service, and Pronto Cycle Share, which works much the same but with bicycles. With U-PASS, you can easily leave your car at home when you come to campus – or even go without a car at all.

Commute Champion Judith Wood spreads love for biking in her workplace

Judith Wood

Judith Wood celebrates her Commute Champion recognition with her colleagues.

When Judith Wood first took part in the University of Washington Ride in the Rain bike commuting challenge, she did it as a team of one. She didn’t know a single other person in her department, UW Educational Outreach, who was participating.

Three years later, though, Educational Outreach didn’t have one Ride in the Rain team – it had two, both nearly full, because Wood had recruited too many riders to fit on one squad.

“I’m an enthusiast, and I like to try to get other people hooked,” says Wood, an operations manager for Educational Outreach. And she’s quite good at getting people hooked on year-round bike commuting, says Nicole Minkoff, a former colleague who Wood recruited to join her Ride in the Rain team.

“She’s really enthusiastic, and she’s also really approachable,” Minkoff says, “so she kind of makes you feel like she can do it and you can do it, too.”

Based on a nomination from Minkoff, we’ve selected Judith Wood as our newest Commute Champion. In a Commute Champion, we look for someone who doesn’t just make smart commute choices for themselves, but who encourages and helps their colleagues to do the same. And Wood exemplifies that better than just about anyone.

Wood began working at the UW about four years ago. She was thrilled to be able to bike to campus, as she had when she was a graduate student here in the 1980s. Before long, she was biking nearly every day, year-round, from her home in Phinney Ridge.

Commuting by bike gives her a twice-a-day boost to her well-being that nothing else can match, Wood says.

“It’s a break between work and home or work and whatever else you’re doing,” she says. “You’re outdoors. You’re in nature. The sky is there. You’re not on a bus. You’re not in a car. You’re getting exercise without having to plan time for it.”

When she heard about the Ride in the Rain challenge during her first fall at the UW, she joined in, hoping it would motivate her to keep riding as the weather turned colder and wetter. It did that, but she thought it would be a lot more fun if she was doing it alongside people she knew.

So when the Bike Month commute challenge rolled around the next spring, she signed up as a team captain and began recruiting.

“For me, it was a way to create a small community within a large organization,” Wood says. It gave her and her colleagues something to talk about while they rode the UW Tower elevator together.

Minkoff, who now works in the chemical engineering department, says she had never bike-commuted during the winter before Wood recruited her to join the Educational Outreach Ride in the Rain team in 2013. With Wood’s encouragement and advice, she stuck it out through the whole month of November. She’s been a year-round rider since.

By this past fall, thanks to Wood’s team spirit, Educational Outreach had gone from zero Ride in the Rain teams to two. The connections she’d helped create were evident when Transportation Services visited the UW Tower to recognize her: Nearly 20 of her colleagues, many of whom were recruited to her bike challenge teams, joined TS to cheer her on. That’s the power of a true Commute Champion.

Do you have a friend or colleague who studies or works at the UW and models smart commute choices? Nominate her or him to be a Commute Champion with our online form.

Seatbelt use – a good policy, and a great habit

Carpoolers wearing seatbelts

Motor vehicle accidents remain the primary cause of death for Americans between the ages of 1 and 54, with an average of almost 2.5 million people treated in US hospitals and 30,000 deaths annually. Vehicle accidents account for 36 percent of all work-related fatalities in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control – more than any other cause. One of the preventable contributing causes of death in vehicle accidents remains drivers and passengers not properly wearing a seatbelt.

According to the National Institute of Highway Safety, studies conclude that seatbelts can increase survivability in vehicle accidents by as much as 70 percent. UW Administrative Policy Statement 53.2, Section 4, requires drivers to abide by applicable traffic laws, and also states that disciplinary action may be taken against those who do not comply. Since wearing seatbelts is required by law, the UW supports this as a matter of policy. Drivers and passengers in all UW-owned vehicles are required to properly wear a seatbelt when the vehicle is being driven – no matter where it is driven or the distance to be traveled. Details about this policy can be found on the UW Fleet Services Seatbelt Use Policy page.

For more information about Washington State’s seatbelt use initiatives, visit the Washington Traffic Safety Commission’s Seat Belts & Occupant Protection page. For details about seatbelt laws, see the Washington State Legislature’s RCW 46.61.688.

Of course, careful and defensive driving that prevents an accident is always best. But, when even your best effort can’t prevent a vehicle accident, you won’t have time to buckle up if an accident is imminent.

So please, buckle up – always!

‘But, no children were present!’ How to safely and legally navigate through school zones

School zone sign

Photo by Kt Ann (via Flickr)

Traffic signs can be confusing, to say the least. At some point behind the wheel, you’ve probably asked (possibly out loud), “Am I allowed to turn here?” or “What does that mean?”

We’ve all taken a wrong turn at some point, but generally speaking, the impact was limited to a little bit of frustration or a delay.

But what about the meaning of “when children are present” on a school-zone speed limit sign? It’s a message that can slip right by us, but the importance of understanding our responsibilities as drivers in school zones cannot be overstated.

The Seattle Department of Transportation provides us with the legal definition of “when children are present” on their website. The term applies during any of the following conditions:

  • School children are walking within the marked crosswalk.
  • School children are waiting at the curb or on the shoulder of the roadway to cross at the marked crosswalk.
  • School children are present or walking along the roadway, either on the adjacent sidewalk or on the shoulder.

Many school zone signs also include “or when flashing” and alternating traffic lights (usually orange) to indicate times when school-related traffic volumes and other conditions require drivers to obey the lower speed limits. Remember that when these lights flash, you are required by law to obey the lower speed limit posted, regardless of whether school children are visibly present or not. In fact, many school zones in Seattle now have traffic cameras installed to enforce this law.

Why is this important to UW drivers?

Many of our University vehicle drivers often travel outside of campus for official business. And whether that’s a delivery of medical supplies between the UW Medical Center and Harborview, a group of student mentors visiting a local high school, or a course field trip to another state, we encourage anyone driving a University vehicle to think of themselves as an ambassador for the UW. What does that mean? Well, when someone sees a vehicle with one of our purple W’s on the side, we want them to know that a safe, responsible driver is behind the wheel.

We also want to remind drivers of UW vehicles that they are responsible for any traffic or parking violations incurred. If you are a Fleet Services customer, please take a moment to review our policies.

Finally, while the University of Washington campus doesn’t fall under the term “school zone,” there is a 20 mph speed limit on most on-campus roads. We always encourage drivers to take it slow on campus, at all times, regardless of visible pedestrian or vehicle traffic. It’s a beautiful campus – why not slow down and enjoy it?

More information and resources

School zone map

Click the map above for more school zones

SDOT’s webpage on traffic enforcement in school zones outlines your responsibility as a driver in these areas and includes maps of where school zones and school zone enforcement cameras are placed within the city of Seattle.

Our Fleet Services team is available to answer your questions regarding safe driving practices and Fleet policies. If you haven’t yet taken our online Driver Safety & Awareness course, please do so today. We also offer in-person safety courses as needed. Please contact us at tssafety@uw.edu or 206-221-6838 with any questions or to inquire about an in-person safety course for your team today.

Thank you for your partnership as we work toward a safer UW, both inside and outside of campus.