L ast week, I sat in my car on westbound U.S. 36 as traffic crept forward, inch by excruciating inch.
At first, I entertained myself by singing along to the classic rock station. After a minute or two, I began to drum my fingers impatiently upon my steering wheel. I put my car in park and tapped my feet. I chewed some gum. I counted all of the blue items in my vicinity. Then the red things.
Traffic crawled forward, then settled to a halt. I pounded my head against the headrest in frustration, then leaned against the window. I chanced to look out and see one of my fellow E-Center pals sitting in her car in the lane directly beside me.
When I ran into her later, we discussed the possibility of carpooling -- both for the sake of our sanity and to save gas. Unfortunately, our schedules only allowed us to coordinate one day per week.
But my friend had a solution for me. She told me about CU Commute, a social platform that networks users by alternative methods of transportation. CU Commute offers incentives, prizes and a trip tracker for folks who use alternative methods of transportation.
I checked it out, and I was thrilled at the simplicity of the system. The iCarpool website offers streamlined, modern carpool matching and trip tracking for students, faculty and staff. Users can link their Facebook profiles or create a CU Commute profile and discover who else is coming to campus along a similar route.
Commuters who drive to campus can network with fellow CU-Boulder community members to split costs and save gas. Those who don't have cars can hitch a ride with someone who does. Users can also keep track of their trips and see how they have made a difference by not driving alone.
People who commute from Denver to Boulder generally drive about 30 miles each way. According to Commuter Solutions, that adds up to about $300 each month per person for gas, tires and maintenance.
If two people carpool, both will slice that cost in half.
With CU Commute, students, faculty and staff can save money, protect the environment and gain access to priority carpool parking and other benefits when they share a ride. The benefits are obvious, and the solution is simple.
As part of the CU community, I recently signed up for free and joined the CU commuter network. I can't wait to find the friends, classmates and coworkers along my route. I'll reduce emissions, meet some great people and enjoy some exciting conversation if I get stuck in traffic on 36.
Plus, by participating and logging my trips at CU Commute, I entered to win some great prizes. The first giveaway is a sweet commuter bike package, which is being raffled away to new users who log at least one trip.
CU Commute is made possible by a partnership between the University's Parking & Transportation Services and the Environmental Center. For information about this program, and the University's partnership, visit http://ecenter.colorado.edu/transportation/carpool.
Jessica Farris is the communications coordinator for the Environmental Center at CU-Boulder and a journalism graduate student.