Active Commuting is Taking Over. Here’s Why.

Aug 15, 2022

Zoë Randolph

Content Strategist

The pandemic upended nearly every corner of the working world. Near the top of the list of changes sat our commutes.

With so much time saved by remote workers who (at least temporarily) found themselves free of the freeway, employees had space to step back and reconsider the nature of their commutes. Driving alone to and from the office, once considered to be an unavoidable part of having a job, became something that started to feel like the kind of obligation best left in the pre-pandemic past. 

Employees working from home found all sorts of ways to replace their former drive times. Some remote workers even began instituting “fake” commutes—a walk around the block, say, or a bike ride—as a way to get outside, clear their heads, and prepare themselves for the day. 

Now, as people once again make the daily office pilgrimage, many are finding themselves reluctant to exchange fresh air for the driver’s seat. 

Meanwhile, many employers are adopting new sustainability goals and quickly realizing that employee commute emissions are a major source of indirect emissions. 

Employees who want to drive less? Employers who want fewer drivers? It’s a match made in heaven. But how can these two sides join forces to make this vision a reality?

Enter active commuting, a better way to get from A to B. 

Active commuters are happy commuters

There’s just no way around it: Despite the prevalence of car-bound commutes, studies show that driving to work makes people miserable. Between the stresses of the road and the monotony of sitting in traffic, drivers are invariably less happy than other commuters

On the opposite end of the spectrum are the active commuters. Physical activity has long been known to keep our bodies healthy, but it also does a whole lot of good for our minds by reducing stress and releasing endorphins. It should come as no surprise, then, that commuters who walk and bike are both happier and more productive than their sedentary coworkers. 

In an effort to avoid spending hours each week stuck behind the wheel, many commuters are looking for active alternatives. 

Cutting drive-alone rates makes a big difference in emissions

Employers with ESG or corporate sustainability goals have increasingly realized that employee commutes are a major piece of the emissions puzzle. (In ESG frameworks, these fall under the category of “Scope 3” emissions.)

Especially for those with ambitious or net-zero climate goals, an office full of workers who take their cars to work every day simply isn’t going to cut it. 

But reducing drive-alone rates can feel like a hairy problem, particularly for employers located outside of downtown cores. Luckily, there are several important ways that organizations can help get people out of their cars and into commuting modes they—and the planet—will love. 

How employers can make active commuting possible

Choosing an active commute may seem deeply personal, but there’s a great deal employers can do to make it easier and more feasible for employees to make the switch. 

Bike facilities

Investing in bike infrastructure for your office or campus can make a big difference for bikers, as well as for the bike-curious. Some great amenities for employees on two wheels include:

  • Storage rooms, where bike can be safely stashed during the day

  • Lockers, in which employees can keep a fresh set of clothes and store their gear

  • Showers, which allow people to freshen up if they’ve worked up a sweat on the way in

Thinking beyond the bike rack makes biking pleasant, not just possible.

Active commuting funds

If employees get free parking but have to pay to use local bike- and scooter-share options, it’s hard to blame them for choosing the more economical option—even if it’s not their first choice. Many companies now offer flexible commuting funds, which allow commuters to use whichever commuting mode (or combination of modes) works best for them on a given day. 

With flexible spending cards (like Commutifi’s Mobility Card), employers can distribute funds and set parameters around the places those funds are are accepted. With more flexibility, employees can easily walk or bike most days with the comfort of knowing they’ll be able to hop in a car or on public transit if it starts to rain. 

Corporate bikeshare programs

Some employers are taking their support of micro-mobility one step further by instituting their very own bike- and scooter-share programs. Especially popular for large employers that may be spread across self-contained campuses, a campus-wide bikeshare gives employees a way to get to and from work, plus gives everyone a fun and easy way to travel between meetings or to the local business district during the work day. 

Distributed offices open active commuting to more employees

You can’t move someone’s house closer to the office, but you can bring the office (or should we say, an office) closer to them. Especially popular with employers running hybrid-model offices and those that employ large concentrations of people who live far away from HQ, strategically placed satellite offices in coworking studios can be a great way to shorten commuting time and open opportunities for active commutes.

If an employee who would otherwise have to drive 45 minutes into the main office can instead bike 10 minutes to a local hub three days per week, you’ll see higher rates of active commuters—and with them, happier employees and lower drive-alone rates. 

Active commuting programs are a win-win

Employees who take active commutes are among the happiest and most productive, but many simply don’t have the support they need to get out of their cars and into a bike seat.

By building infrastructure, enabling flexibility, and bringing work closer to workers, employers can increase the number of their employees commuting actively, all while reducing parking demand, lowering emissions, and helping employees live their best lives.  

To take advantage of active commuting and other commuter solutions, head over to the Employer TDM Guide to learn more.

Better commuting starts here.

Better commuting starts here.

Better commuting starts here.