Safe Commute Guide helps employers get commuters to work safely

In partnership with RideKC, the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and the Full Employment Council, MARC has launched the Safe Commute Guide to help employers and commuters get to work safely during COVID-19.

As the region continues to balance the economic rebound and public health concerns during COVID-19, safe, accessible employer commute and telecommute practices remain critical to business continuity and resilience.

A supplement to the Safe Return KC Guide, the Safe Commute Guide empowers employers with tools, templates and resources to develop safe commute policies and practices.

The guide features an evaluation of each of the Kansas City area’s transportation options, addressing COVID-19 safety, reliability and cost-effectiveness as key concerns for employers and commuters alike.

In addition, the guide features local resources and best practices to help businesses and their commuters stay connected to transportation solutions. The guide can be found at MARC.org, or on the PrepareMetroKC website.

For questions about safe commute practices or to inquire about the guide, contact Natalie Phillips with the RideshareKC program at nphillips@marc.org.

Will riders return to public transportation?

How has COVID-19 impacted you and your constituents’ travel habits, motivations and fears? Do you plan on catching the bus or ridesharing any time soon? If you take transit, rideshare, or bike/scooter, we want to know how coronavirus has impacted the way you move around KC.

RideKC has launched a survey in partnership with KC Streetcar, RideshareKC, RideKC Bike & Scooter and RideKC Vanpool for metro-area commuters to gauge what the future might look like for transportation through the pandemic and beyond.

Feedback collected from the survey will be used to guide re-opening plans for local transportation providers. We hope to get a better sense of how commuters feel about their transportation options in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis and into the future and use those results to better serve the needs and desires of the community.

Please take a couple of minutes to complete the survey and pass it along to your networks.

To learn more about KC area transportation options and COVID-safe transportation habits, contact RideshareKC at rideshare@marc.org.

Don’t get distracted by detours! Find easy commute alternatives during I-435 and I-70 interchange construction

Missouri Department of Transportation crews will begin working at the I-435 and I-70 interchange beginning on Thursday, March 7! The project includes removing left exits on I-435, making safety improvements at the loop ramps, adding lanes on I-435 in each direction and building new bridges within the interchange. The work will have major traffic impacts over the course of two construction seasons. Learn more about the project.

On both Thursday, March 7, and Friday March 8, beginning at 9 a.m., crews will close the right lane of eastbound I-70 from 18th Street to Cleveland Ave. until approximately 3 p.m. each day. This closure is to stage signs, equipment and detours routes.

The following ramps will be closed throughout March and remain closed until December 2020:

  • Westbound I-70 loop ramp to southbound I-435. The signed detour will use westbound I-70 to Manchester to turn around on eastbound I-70 to southbound I-435.
  • Eastbound I-70 loop ramp to northbound I-435. The signed detour will use US 40 starting near 31st Street to northbound I-435.
  • Manchester Trafficway on-ramp to westbound I-70.
  • I-70 eastbound exit ramp to Manchester.

The project has the potential to add more time to your daily commute, presenting a great opportunity to explore other commuting options through RideshareKC.

  • Find a carpool partner at RideshareKC.org. This website connects you with others who live and work near you and want to carpool.
  • Take the bus. Find bus routes and schedules at RideKC.org. Rather than sitting in traffic, you can read, listen to music or chat with other riders.
  • Park and ride. The Kansas City region has many park and ride lots where you can meet up with fellow carpool riders and connect to public transit. Find a park and ride lot.

If you regularly take the bus, carpool, vanpool or ride a bike to work, register for the Guaranteed Ride Home program and we’ll provide up to two taxi rides home per year in case of emergency. Call 816-842-RIDE (7433) or visit RideshareKC.org for more information.

Fight the winter blues with active commuting

Does the long cold winter have you feeling down? Not getting enough exercise? Feeling cooped up in your house?

Whether you’re dealing with a mild case of the winter blues or the more serious seasonal affective disorder, one of the best things to do is get outside.

One way to be more active outdoors is to leave your car at home and try an active form of commuting — take the bus, walk or bike. Trying an active commute during the winter months can seem a bit daunting at first but with a little willpower and preparation, you can do it! Not only will you improve your overall mood, you’ll be getting exercise and saving money.

Visit RideshareKC to get started with active commuting. You can find information about bus and bike routes and make connections with others who might have a similar commute. A commute buddy can help ease the transition to a new mode and keep you motivated. You can also find potential carpool matches at the site.

Tips to deal with winter weather active commuting:

  • Quick change — Keep clothes at work to change into, especially warm socks and shoes.
  • Stay hydrated — With drier winter air, it’s more important to stay hydrated when exercising.
  • Layer up — Wearing multiple thin layers is key. Synthetic based layers that wick moisture are extremely helpful.
  • Protect your head, feet and hands — Use sock liners, a hat, neck gaiter and gloves to help ward off the chill.
  • Gear up — Invest in a comfortable shoulder bag or backpack to carry extra cold weather gear so you can adapt to changing weather conditions.

Biking and walking are great ways to beat the winter blues and get some much needed sunshine. Being active outside during winter is all about dressing in layers. Once your body gets moving, you’ll be nice and warm!

Eric Rogers
BikeWalkKC, Executive Director and Co-founder

Thanks to our friends at BikeWalkKC for sharing pictures of active winter commuters!

A snapshot of RideshareKC commutes

The RideshareKC website provides a quick way for commuters to find easy alternatives to driving alone. Commuters go there to connect with carpool and vanpool partners, find transit routes and bike paths, locate nearby park-and-ride lots and, if they want, log their commute trips.

The site also provides a wealth of data the RideshareKC staff can use to improve services. Anonymous data from the commute profiles in the database helps us learn more about where our participants live and work and how they travel.

Commuter trip origin by ZIP code

The map below shows where RideshareKC commuters begin their trips, by ZIP code. Darker colors indicate more points of origin. The data shows large clusters in several suburban locations — along I-35 in northeast Johnson County, especially near Olathe; in the northland between I-29 and Highway 169; and further west where a large island of commuters is centered around Lawrence, Kansas. Note that there is also a heavy concentration of trip origins in more urbanized areas, including the downtown and midtown areas of Kansas City, Missouri. Click to zoom in on a larger version of the map.

Commuter workplace destinations by ZIP code

Notice that workplace destinations are most highly concentrated in a few large activity centers — the KCMO central business district, the areas around KU Medical Center and UMKC and in northeast Johnson County along Interstates 35 and 435. These locations have high concentrations of employers. Click to zoom in on a larger version of the map.

Connecting the dots

The final map shows individual commutes. Green dots indicate origin and red dots indication destinations. The shortest lines represent walking and cycling commutes or short trips on the bus. The longer lines — for example those between the outer ring suburbs and the city center — represent either people riding together in carpools and vanpools or trips on one of the long distance express buses. Most commute profiles are “suburb-to-city-center,” but some represent a reverse “city-center-to-suburb” or a “suburb-to-suburb” commute. Although these maps do not show the times of day for these commuters, most work regular weekday office hours. Click on the map for a larger version.

It is important to note that this commute pattern does not exactly reflect the overall distribution of work trips in the Greater Kansas City region. This data is limited to registered users in our RideshareKC database. However, it does show the locations and corridors where carpooling, vanpooling and transit are the most attractive to commuters. Do you see your commute drawn here? Then there is a good chance you can find a carpool partner or other alternative to driving alone. Visit RideshareKC.org to learn more about using alternative transportation.