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Carpooling: Rules of the Road, Part 4

If you’ve already read this introduction, swipe down to #4, 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 of 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 – covered in Part 2.

3. Balance – covered in Part 4.

4. Hearing – A carpool is an excellent way to meet new people and to get to know them in a low-pressure environment. A comfortable car ride is a perfect venue for quiet discussion. Consequently, a suggested Rule for the Road, is subdued, calm conversation.

While everyone should feel free to express their opinions on any matter (e.g., “What did you think of that headline news story about those carpoolers arguing and then driving over the cliff?”), common courtesy – and common sense – should prevail.

Politics and religion can inflame a quiet discussion. Therefore, these and other very personal topics should be touched on gingerly until everyone’s comfort level and orientation is understood. Those who wish to engage in these topics – quietly – may want to sit together and not sandwich an innocent victim between them.

Music is another point of potential sensory contention. As a matter of courtesy, drivers should not impose their choices on riders. It’s usually better if everyone brings their own sonics and simply plugs in a headset (except for the driver, of course, due to safety concerns).

Playing the radio for all is a matter of personal taste that can vary greatly and thus, should be subject to everyone’s agreement. Classical. . . or rap? Some folks prefer talk radio, for example, some loathe it. Even for the ones who love talk radio, stations occupy different points on the political spectrum as well as the broadcast dial.

There’s a lot of room for disagreement unless all are of the same persuasion or agree to be challenged by opposing viewpoints. Again, the key word is agree.

Many successful carpools observe the Rule of the Road of, “Silence is Golden”.

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:

Part 1 – Time

Part 2 – Temperature

Part 3 – Balance

Part 4 – Hearing

Part 5 – Tasting

Part 6 – Touching

Part 7 – Seeing

Part 8 – Smelling

Part 9 – Satisfaction

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