Winter is the Perfect Time to Start Carpooling

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(Photo above: Candy Freiboth’s carpool crew shares rides to and from school and school related events | Photo by Candy Freiboth)

When Candy Freiboth learned that one of her son’s friends was not able to continue the dual immersion program at their middle school because he didn’t have a way to get there and back, she found a simple solution — carpooling. “He lives down the street and I knew his mother was a hard working single mom like me and she had no mode of transportation. This year I transport six kids, two of whom are my boys, two to three times a week to and from school. Three family households help with the carpooling,” says Freiboth.

While Freiboth is certainly a star carpooler, wrangling middle school kids into her car in the early mornings, carpooling can be a simple, cost-effective and fun way to share rides, and get a few cars off the road. Carpooling takes a little planning, but once you are going, it’s easy to stick to it.

Find your people. The most obvious type of carpooling is to and from work, sharing rides with your coworkers, but don’t let this limit you. Kid’s soccer practice, weekend hiking clubs or trips to the grocery store can all be set up for carpooling. Avid equestrian Nancy Kraemer organized a carpooling group of fellow horseback riders. “My friends and I all lived near each other in northwest Bend and we knew carpooling was possible, so we identified likely times and days we’d like to trail ride together. We meet at a neighboring church or coffee shop, depending on whose turn it is, and the equipment we need to take and we rotate drivers.”

Can’t find a set group of people to carpool with? Another option is to check out the Ride Share function at www.drivelessconnect.com to give a ride or get a ride.

Set a time and place. Once you have your carpool team on board, figure out an appropriate schedule and convenient place to meet if you aren’t picking people up at home. A local coffee shop that everyone can walk to works great for a morning pick up spot! If you are picking up people at each home, have a system in place so the pick up is quick and efficient.

Share the driving. Think of it this way. If you have four people in your carpool group, then you only have to drive every four weeks. That’s only one week a month, and the remaining weeks, you can read, chat, check emails or just daydream. For Kraemer, the best part is the camaraderie and the time the group has to plan their rides for the day. And if you don’t share the driving equally, be sure to compensate the people who drive.

Commit, yet stay flexible. In a perfect world, no one is late or misses a day of work when sick. But these things happen, so have a good communication plan with your carpool crew for those times when the schedule or plan may change. Have a back up plan and a way to let everyone know if anything changes.

Get rewards! On freeways in big cities, carpoolers are rewarded by being able to drive in a high occupancy lane that is often faster and less crowded. Here in Oregon, if your employer is a Commute Options Partner, you can reap local rewards for every 45 trips that you choose to not drive alone. It’s easy to get your workplace signed up as a Partner by contacting Kim Curley at kim@commuteoptions.org.

Commute Options promotes choices that reduce the impacts of driving alone. For more information, contact Executive Director Jeff Monson at 541-330-2647 or visit commuteoptions.org

Katy Bryce is a freelance writer in Bend. katybryce.com

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Katy Bryce for Commute Options

Katy Bryce is a freelance writer in Bend. www.katybryce.com

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