Commuting to work today requires time, energy, and money. It stretches our country’s natural resources and makes people grumble.
Workplaces today often provide hundreds of expensive parking spaces to accommodate a steady stream of commuters, while metro-area buses and trains are continually packed with more people than they were intended to hold. And while common build-outs include bicycle racks, associated storage, and shower facilities, a wholesale revolution of private sector transportation has been, until recently, virtually unfathomable.
But what if all of that could change?
In the last several decades, people around the world have dreamed of more efficient cars. Today’s hottest technology, the Google Car, notable for its self-driving abilities, would be great for commuters. Not only does the car ride a hot-trend wave, but it’s eco-friendly and will likely prove cheaper to maintain in the long run.
The reality of the Google Car presents a wide range of potential innovations; perhaps companies provided them as a benefit like they do healthcare, or offered them to employees for personal or business travel.
Bicycles are another example of a private-sector transportation resource that must be improved upon. In regard to global warming, President Obama is on record as having once said, “Not only is it real, it’s here, and its effects are giving rise to a frighteningly new global phenomenon: the man-made natural disaster.” Bikes drastically reduce our carbon footprint and widespread use could likely be the key to improving the environment. Moreover, the energy required to power this new wave of bicycles would surely do our collective bodies good; with a national obesity rate hovering around 40 percent, we could all do with a little extra exercise.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, together with his administration, recently released formal guidelines on how to design in order to amplify user activity. Called The Active Design Guidelines, the guide emphasizes more exercise at home, around town, and especially at work.
For the average office worker, achieving this ideal means more perspiration getting to and from work, which will lead to workspace designers dedicating more square footage for showers, lockers, and changing rooms. This will also push commercial investors to spend their time finding the best value in earth-friendly soaps, shampoos, and body washes, so that their end-user — the employee — isn’t forced to cart around with a full toiletry bag.
A successful implementation of Active Design Guidelines exists in DC’s own Holocaust Museum. Visitors access all three lower levels of exhibits by walking flights of stairs; in addition, there is a flood of natural light. The museum not only feels comfortable, but its design promotes mobility.
In the end, our current forms of transportation – be they public or private – are not sustainable. Too many workers are wasting money and energy – not to mention growing larger – as they sit in gridlocked traffic or utilize the outdated Metro. We need to transform this man-made disaster of wastefulness by designing workspaces designed to promote and support the walker, cyclist and, someday, perhaps even the Google Car owner.