Small Footprint-Big World
By Eli Stillman, Editor In Chief
The Oregon Department of Transportation is making Southern Oregon University the first student oriented drive less project in the state. They backed it up with a grant to get students interested in driving less. In large measure because according to the Commuter Resource Center 54% of SOU students do not live in Ashland and from that a small percentage use public transportation. After the year long grant is up, the project will be taken over by organizers in the Commuter Resource Center which is home base for the program now.
While the drive less campaign has numerous facets, a major point to the plan comes from the newly implemented “Raider Rideshare” which is a carpool network aimed at limiting single driver trips. “Because we are a rural area with many commuters from other towns, it makes sense to have this system,” said Leigh Hackney, a human resource major and one of the organizers of the program.
Signing up takes less than five minutes and only an SOU student email is needed to to register within the network. Max Runia, a daily commuter from Central Point, claimed he had no idea about the program but after hearing about it said he would be willing to try it out, “ Even though gas is cheap now, it’s still always nice save money, plus it seems like a fun way to meet people.”
A component to the program that has been heard of comes from partnering with SOU bicyclists to organize events ranging from maintenance classes to themed group bike rides.Rain or shine the group can usually be seen next to the bike racks in front of the Stevenson Union during their events welcoming all passersby to attend.
“Light up” is the next event set for Thursday the 12th at noon where the group will talk about light safety as well as how to get lights installed for the cyclists’ protection.“Ashland is great with bike lanes, but some places around can be dangerous for cyclists because of how dark it gets,” Katherine McCreddie, another organizer of the Drive Less reported.
Other resources that have been funded by the grant include, cheaper bus passes that students can get through RVTD as well as free customized Go-kits. Go-kits can be ordered right from the Drive Less Connect page and are put together specifically to help the particular student.
These can include umbrellas, LED bike lights, bus schedules and town maps of roads and trails for pedestrians to utilize. Spencer Jones another leader of Drive Less who is looking to head the program next year said, “The ultimate goal is to bridge these different groups we have on campus and reduce single driver trips for environmental as well as economical reasons.”
Keep an eye out for Drive Less emails in your SOU account and get ready for the Spring Transportation Challenge. A campus wide event taking place from April 13th-24th that asks students to log a collective 5,000 miles of alternative transportation.