If you’ve already read this introduction, swipe down to #2, below.
Mobility managers are often tasked to facilitate and manage carpools. Carpools are an integral of a TDM strategy to reduce traffic congestion and parking demand. There are many societal, organizational and personal benefits to carpools, which we will cover elsewhere.
This series will discuss different aspects of running a successful program that maximizes the participants’ satisfaction and minimizes the negatives sometimes associated with the experience. We will focus our attention on the carpool itself, from the time the carpool begins each day, to the time it ends.
Feel free to forward this post link or copy and paste our text into your circulars to your carpoolers (with attribution, please: “Courtesy of the H2H2H Foundation at www.h2h2h.org.”)
Rules for the Road
Carpool program members need to make some basic decisions about how the carpool will operate on a day-to-day basis. Agreement on these points is critical to long term success of each carpool and the satisfaction of the participants. Carpool members often bail out because these details, these “Rules of the Road”, haven’t been agreed-upon in advance. When enough members quit, the carpool collapses.
It’s better if mobility managers don’t mandate Rules of the Road for the entire program, but rather, present them as decision points for each pool. A program with numerous pools can have widely varying sets of self-imposed rules; it’s not a one-size-fits-all experience.
We do offer our “recommendations” as we proceed, however. Since carpooling is an “experience”, let’s break these up these considerations into the way we experience anything: through our perceptions and senses.
No Sensory Overloads
Here’s the scene: A carpool places several people in close proximity to each other, certainly an immediate violation of most people’s personal space. Carpool participants may not know each other well – or at all. All are locked in a small, containerized metal box (car) for up to two hours during the commute. Their freedom of movement is extremely limited. Each participant brings to the carpool their concerns for the day left behind at home and the workday ahead.
Since humans are societal animals, senses and perception are heightened under these conditions. Everyone is on edge, not necessarily in a disturbed or negative way, but in a manner that could become so. Since the senses are on high alert, far less stimulus is required to agitate an individual or the group. Finally, let’s remember that many of us are not at our best first thing in the morning or after a hard day of work.
Therefore, we’re not suggesting sensory deprivation here, but rather, sensory conservation. The point: Let’s not overstimulate everyone.
1. Time – covered in Part 1.
2. Temperature – Everyone has a different threshold for temperature comfort. Add to this, the average vehicle does not distribute heat and cold evenly, especially with multiple, 98.5 degree bodies adding heat and disturbing air circulation.
Thus, a suggested Rule for the Road is for the driver to negotiate with everyone to reach a temperature they can live with, adjusting temperature and air flow accordingly. Such negotiation may well end up, as many negotiations do, where no one is “perfectly” comfortable, but hopefully, close.
One mode of “air conditioning” is best avoided: windows down. While a blast of cool, crisp air might be some participants’ idea of enjoying a sunny, autumn day, everyone should keep in mind that this breath of air also shoots dust into the eyes and face, especially at highway speeds. A rush of air also does no favors for the carefully coiffed, who have spent time preparing that perfect look for the day.
However, a critical factor here is the driver’s comfort with respect to safety: Too hot and the driver might doze off. Too cold, and the driver hurries or becomes jittery. Ultimately, the driver must make this call and the driver should be the only one fiddling with the temperature controls.
One more suggestion about “temperature”. If you have one (i.e., you’re sick), stay home or find an alternative mode of transportation for that day. Bringing illness into the confines of the carpool, where it can easily be spread via touching door and window handles, coughing or merely breathing, is highly disrespectful of your peers.
Now, what did we miss? Please let us know in your comments below.
Hop these links to navigate our Carpooling “Rules of the Road” series:
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