Make Your Workplace a Walking Workplace
Arlington County is both a walk-friendly community and a business-friendly community. That’s why Arlington Transportation Partners and WalkArlington have put together WalkArlington Works, a compilation of readily available Walking Workplace programs and resources to integrate walking into your work day and your workplace. Read more about WalkArlington Works at WalkArlington.com.
Walking to work is a healthy, environmentally friendly, and efficient form of commuting. In fact, walking is part of every commute, whether it’s door to door or from home to metro station or home to bus stop. And in a walkable county like Arlington, walking is one of the best ways to get around town.
Arlington County understands the importance of the pedestrian experience. In recent years, that understanding has helped Arlington County leave a large footprint across the state and around the nation. For instance…
- In 2011, Arlington was recognized as a Gold Level Walk Friendly Community.
- In 2009, Arlington County received a perfect score for comprehensive pedestrian and bike planning from BikeWalk Virginia -- one of only three localities out of 291 surveyed to be so rated.
- In 2008, the American Planning Association named Arlington’s Clarendon and Wilson Boulevards one of ten America’s Great Streets, part of America’s Great Places program.
- In 2007, a report (PDF, Adobe Reader required) released by the Brookings Institution ranked the Washington region first among the country’s major metropolitan walkable areas per capita, citing Arlington’s pedestrian-friendly urban villages and smart growth as a key contributing factor.
- Also in 2007, in the American Community Survey the Washington D.C. region ranked second among major U.S. cities in the number of commuters who walk to work.
Arlington County also runs WalkArlington, a program dedicated to providing resources and reasons to “get more people walking more of the time.” WalkArlington offers one-stop shopping for walking in and around Arlington.
Employer-sponsored walking programs involve employees either walking all the way to their place of business, or combining walking with another form of transit (such as Metrorail or bus). Employees may elect to walk full-time or part-time. Some people walk to work only on "casual days," while others plan ahead to take or wear business clothes.
Examples of walking programs include:
- Adding lockers in areas that can't be used for offices or vehicle parking. If lockers can't be installed, allow employees to store their change of clothes or shoes in their offices during the workday.
- Offering parking "cash out"—an employee may give up an employer-paid parking space in exchange for the value of that space in taxable income.
- Adding shower and changing facilities to your building, or request that it be done by your property manager. (As an alternative, provide discounted employee membership to a health club located close to your building.)
- Providing a commuting incentive program for those who walk to work.
What are the benefits of walking programs?
A walking commuting program can help with employee issues such as health care costs, high turnover rates, low morale, decreased productivity, absenteeism, and monthly parking costs. When employers support walking to work, they provide a service that is highly valued by employees, cost-effective, beneficial for the environment, and important for the future success of their company.
Employees who exercise regularly have lower health care costs and less absenteeism.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) report that physical activity saves employers 6—32% in health care costs per year. Physically fit people are also absent an average of two fewer days per year than people who are not physically fit. Walking to work combines the need to travel to work with the desire for exercise.
Walking to work can lead to higher productivity and reduced turnover.
A study by HHS states that employers who implement programs or encourage physical activity in employees see an increase in productivity by 2—52%. Employees who walk to work arrive less stressed and more alert than those who drive alone. Happier employees tend to stay with their employers longer, reducing the high costs associated with losing and recruiting staff.
How Arlington Transportation Partners (ATP) can help:
ATP makes it easy and convenient for you to establish and administer walking programs by providing the following services:
- Helping you organize a walk-to-work day or lunch time or before-and-after work walkabouts
- Providing information on walking programs and answering any questions
- Explaining walking choices including available trails and safety information
- Helping you to design the best walking program for your company’s needs
- Sponsoring a workshop or seminar to explain walking programs
- Connecting you with walking resources, local events, and opportunities for promoting walking via WalkArlington
How can I encourage employee participation?
There are numerous ways get the word out and encourage employee participation in a walking program, including the following actions:
- Holding a walk-to-work day or walking outings during the work day
- Stocking information about walking commutes at your work site
- Providing lockers and showers
- Sending out e-mail notifications and reminders
- Including information packets with paychecks
- Including an article in your company newsletter
- Providing information on your company's intranet, website, or in new-hire packets