#8: The CDC Solo Commute

by | July 28, 2020 0 Ideas

In May, the CDC released sweeping recommendations for preventing the spread of Covid-19 in the workplace. While many of the strategies expectedly focus on social distancing, improving ventilation and modifying behavior in the office, one surprising admonition involves how employees actually get to and from work. The CDC suggests that employers provide incentives for workers to not take public transportation where social distancing may be challenging.

Now, we at SERA take our commutes pretty seriously! We’re based in Portland and Oakland — two cities that celebrate both transit and active transportation — and so we provide employees either monthly bicycle commute bonuses or transit passes to help minimize our carbon footprint.

Public transportation is generally considered beneficial because it reduces traffic, saves fossil fuels and promotes easy, equitable movement around a city. So it’s telling that the CDC is now recommending that employers discourage workers from taking public transportation, or even carpooling, in favor of commuting alone.

So what does this mean for SERA and other companies? Should we start incentivizing single-occupancy car commutes? YES!

…We kid, we kid! What it really means is we need to look at this as an opportunity to double-down on alternate modes of transportation. Clearly, if everyone who was previously taking transit to work suddenly began driving their car — alone — to work, we would experience some serious traffic headaches and quickly exacerbate the climatological toll of our already entrenched car culture.

So take these CDC guidelines as a call to action. When we return to the office, ride your bike, walk, run, skate, or maybe take a scooter. By using your legs to propel you to work, you will be healthier, enjoy a more intimate relationship with your neighborhood and city,  and of course you’ll be much less likely to exchange those stubborn airborne pathogens with your fellow commuters.

As Wendell Berry wrote in promoting local thinking and sustainable cities, “…Out of your car, off your horse… On foot, you will find the World is still satisfyingly large and full of beguiling nooks and crannies.

Good one, Berry.

Join us next time for some workplace gameday plays.


Authored by Brendan Post + Mia Allen

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