METRO’s David McMaster Honored for Commuting Strategies
Some of the world’s foremost commuting planners learned how The Energy Corridor District, METRO, H-GAC and the City of Houston are emerging as leaders offering alternative commuting choices during the 2013 Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT) Conference in San Antonio.
John Nunez, Transportation Manager for The Energy Corridor District (ECD), shared the District’s vanpool, carpool and transit programs with transportation professionals from around the globe.
METRO’s Director of Commuter Services, David McMaster, received the exceptional ACT President’s Award for contributing his talent and energy to the national organization. The award also recognized McMaster for his innovative approaches in developing and promoting alternative commuting strategies. McMaster is a key partner for the District’s implementation of its CarShare trip reduction project.
Clark Martinson, ECD General Manager, presented “How to Become a Bicycle-friendly Community,” along with Julia Murphy, from the City of San Antonio’s Office of Sustainability
“Like many large, sprawling cities, Houston has latched onto the power and popularity of the bicycle as alternative transportation,” explains Martinson. “Bicycling as a mode of transportation and recreation is gathering steam and being embraced by all political parties across the nation.
“It may seem surprising to many Houstonians,” says Martinson, “but our city is becoming a model for creating a bike-friendly community in a metropolis built to serve personal vehicle transportation.”
The city now boasts hundreds of miles of bikeways with more bayou trails on the way, thanks to the passage of last year’s $200 million bond initiative.
Houston’s 500-plus miles of bikeways, along with the ECD’s leadership in creating 50 miles of trails, anchored a best practices example for the international conference attendees. The ECD was instrumental in creating a West Houston Trails Master Plan, with the goal to have 100 miles of hike and bike trails.
“The League of American Bicyclists has defined criteria for ‘Bicyclist Friendly Communities’ that go far beyond bike lanes,” Martinson says. “Our seminar showed how to create bicyclist-friendly communities from a micro level, for example our management district, to citywide initiatives.”
Such an effort takes a lot of partners and a great deal of collaboration, Martinson explained during the ACT conference.
Sprinkled throughout downtown Houston are 21 BCycle stations offering 175 new rental bikes. In addition, City of Houston Mayor Annise Parker’s office helped pass a new policy to enhance safety for vulnerable roadway users. Mayor Parker’s office is now developing guidelines for what is known as “complete streets” practices that encourage cycling.
Bicycling as both recreation and transportation is a key initiative for The Energy Corridor District. It’s recently launched CarShare program gives alternative commuters the use of a shared vehicle while at work.
There are now two CarShare installations available for Energy Corridor commuters who either bicycle to work, take METRO, or share rides in vanpools and carpools. Commuting cyclists can garner credits for commuting that essentially make borrowing a CarShare vehicle close to free.
ACT is considered by many in the transportation demand profession as the premier international association for resolving commuting challenges. The group supports individual mobility management professionals and organizational members in their efforts to reduce traffic congestion, conserve energy and improve air quality, while maintaining mobility options that can be sustained indefinitely, according to ACT.