Category Archives: Featured Stories

New signs remind drivers to “Stop for Pedestrians”

New signs at crosswalk on Stevens Way

Stevens Way NE, the main road looping around the UW’s Seattle campus, is always full of life. No matter what time of year it is, you’ll always see a mix of cars, buses, shuttles, delivery vehicles, and of course, people, making their way around the loop. As a primary route for these many modes of transportation, Stevens Way contains about 40 marked crosswalks in a stretch of just over one mile.

Do you know your responsibilities as a driver when approaching a crosswalk? New signs in the center of the roadway at a few major crossings on campus now remind people driving or bicycling that they must stop for people crossing. In fact, it’s state law.

Here are the steps to take any time you approach a crosswalk, whether on campus or off:

  • Slow down to a defensive speed (a speed at which you could make a complete, controlled stop).
  • Scan both sides of the crosswalk to see if a person (on foot, bike, or wheelchair) is waiting to cross.
  • If a person is there, stop completely in front of the crosswalk and wait for them to cross before proceeding.
  • If you don’t see anyone, proceed through the crosswalk at a defensive speed. You may have to stop suddenly for someone you did not see.

Remember, you must stop for people waiting to cross at both marked and unmarked crosswalks in Washington. Unmarked crosswalks are at all normal intersections.

UW Transportation Services is currently studying the effectiveness of these first few pilot signs in increasing legal stop and yield behavior among drivers on campus. If you have comments or observations about these signs, please drop us a line at ucommute@uw.edu.

July is National Vehicle Theft Prevention Month

Man locking car using key remote

Is your vehicle at risk? Vehicle theft is a billion-dollar crime problem nationally, with the cost of stolen vehicles coming in at more than $4.5 billion in 2014 alone. To counter this expensive offense, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is continuing its annual vehicle theft prevention campaign during July, the month in which the most vehicles are stolen.

At UW Transportation Services, we want to make sure you have the information you need to keep your vehicles and valuables safe and secure. To that end, we’ve put together a quick list of practical measures you can take to keep them from falling into the wrong hands.

Note that while there is no surefire way of preventing theft, you will have a clear advantage over would-be thieves with each additional safety measure below that you make a part of your routine.

Cars, Trucks and SUVs

Nearly half of vehicle theft is due to driver error, such as leaving your keys in the vehicle. Use common sense when you park by:

  • Always taking your keys and not leaving them in or on your vehicle
  • Closing windows and locking doors
  • Parking in well-lit areas
  • Never leaving valuables in your vehicle, especially where they can be seen
  • Never leaving the area while your vehicle is running
  • Keeping your vehicle in your garage, if possible

For more information on vehicle theft prevention, check out NHTSA’s SaferCar.gov/theft website and the vehicle safety tips page from UW Police (UWPD).

Bicycles

Bike Lock Diagram

While the focus of National Vehicle Theft Prevention Month may be on automobiles, another pressing concern for many UW commuters is bike security. Of course, there are several secure bike parking options on campus, including bike lockers and bike houses. However, properly locking your bike can go a long way to preventing theft.

As we explained in detail earlier this year, the three most important measures you can take toward bike security are:

  • Getting a U-lock
  • Locking your bike properly with your U-lock
  • Registering your bike (with UWPD)

Please review our entire bike security post for more information, and don’t hesitate to reach out to us at ucommute@uw.edu with any questions.

Valuables

Last year, Transportation Services teamed up with UW Police to launch a new safety campaign called Love Your Stuff. Now entering its second year, Love Your Stuff continues to provide public awareness about the need to keep valuables safe and secure, primarily through posters, digital displays and practical tips in various University publications. Here are a few tips to consider if you keep valuables in your vehicle:

Love Your Stuff poster

  • If at all possible, do not leave your laptop in a vehicle. If you must, secure it in the trunk of your vehicle before getting to your destination.
  • Don’t leave valuables in view for a thief. The old saying “out of sight, out of mind” is applicable here. Take valuables with you or put them in your trunk before getting to your destination. Do not put them in the glove box or under your seat as those are the first places a criminal will look.
  • Don’t leave vital information in your car. Your registration and insurance cards contain personal home information that allows a criminal to target your home or perpetrate identity theft. Carry these documents in your wallet or your purse.
  • Take your garage door opener with you when you park your vehicle. With your vehicle registration and your garage door opener, a criminal has everything needed to easily burglarize your home.
  • Is your car lonely? Check on it once a day rather than leaving it unattended for days at a time. A checked-on car is a signal to a thief that someone is paying attention, and if your car does get broken into, it helps police investigation by narrowing down the time frame of the crime.

For the complete list of crime prevention and safety tips, visit the UW Police website.

Our campus community is an essential part of maintaining safety and security for all. If you see suspicious activity in a parking lot or near a bike rack, bike locker or bike house, please don’t hesitate to call UWPD’s non-emergency line at 206–685-8973.

Thank you for all that you do to help us promote a safer UW.

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.