RideAmigos LogoCan you trade your drive to work for a bike ride or a bus ride? How about carpooling with coworkers? Santa Monica-based startup RideAmigos wants to know if you are up to the challenge.

Santa Monica employers can now register for the bayside city’s 2015 Commuter Challenge, the first-ever competition for Santa Monica businesses and organizations of all sizes to encourage their employees to bike, carpool, vanpool or ride transit to work, instead of driving alone.

“Cars on Los Angeles highways are a top contributor to greenhouse gases and smog,” Jeffrey Chernick, chief executive officer of RideAmigos, said in a press release last week.

He said that the Commuter Challenge was about getting people who regularly drive alone to try active and public transportation, or to coordinate with coworkers and friends for a more sustainable commute to work.

“These clean-air trips improve air quality, save money, limit congestion, and reduce stress,” Chernick said in the release. RideAmigos works with businesses and other organizations, including the City of Santa Monica, around the country to provide multi-modal transportation solutions. The local startup provides regional commuter networks, multi-modal travel dashboards, certified transportation commute surveys, trip trackers, reward systems and GIS reporting tools, according to its site.

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“From April 1st through July 31st, thousands of Santa Monica commuters will keep track of their commute trips through CommuteSM.com. April incentivizes general trip logging, while each month thereafter showcases a different travel mode, from biking in May, to carpooling/vanpooling in June, and public transportation in July,” RideAmigos officials said in a press release.

While Santa Monica’s residential population has increased by less than 10,000 since 1960 due largely to very slow growth in its housing supply, it is a regional job center. With rents and purchase prices for homes soaring due to a constricted supply of homes, many of Santa Monica’s middle-income workers find themselves priced out of the bayside city.

While the city is anticipating a modest increase in its housing stock — 4,955 new homes by 2030 — it will not be enough to house all who commute into Santa Monica daily. Estimates vary, but the population may as much as triple daily with visitors and employees coming into town.

With the coming Expo Line, Santa Monica is working on increasing local businesses and organizations “average vehicle ridership” (AVR), a ratio of the number of vehicles on the road per employee. For example, if a business had an AVR of 1, that would mean each employee was driving to work alone.

“Even though the Expo line hasn’t arrived quite yet, Santa Monica is in the process of increasing its target average vehicle ridership,” said Ma’ayan Dembo with RideAmgios.

“I hope that lasting change will come out of this competition… [as people] realize the benefits of not having to sit in traffic,” she said.

Santa Monica’s 2015 Commuter Challenge is sponsored by RideAmigos, Urban Trans, Paradise Consulting, and the City of Santa Monica. For more information on the Commuter Challenge, visit www.commuteSM.com.