The Denver Zoo is committed to providing programs for employees that support a decreased reliance on cars, and an increase in the use of alternative transportation. Their goal is to increase overall employee trips using alternative transportation by 10 percent annually by challenging each employee to use alternative transportation more than twice a month. This will help reduce use of combustion fuels that can damage the environment and contribute to global climate change.
One of Denver Zoo’s most innovative programs is their EcoWheels software program. EcoWheels is specifically designed to help track employee commuting methods including use of alternative transportation and provide a carpool database to encourage ride share. Thanks to their employee participation in EcoWheels, Denver Zoo is able to track progress towards their annual goal. In 2012, they increased alternative transportation by 28 percent from 2011.
Their alternative transportation programs’ successes have been aided by employee and guest incentives. Denver Zoo provides a RTD Eco Pass as a benefit to all full-time employees, promoting an ecologically-sound option for commuting through RTD public transit. They also host an Alternative Transportation Fair for employees and volunteers to increase awareness of bus routes, bike shops and carpooling options. In 2010, Denver Zoo’s Workplace Conservation Committee created the Wild Ride challenge, a challenge to one zoo employee to give up their car for commuting to work for one full year. In its second year, the Wild Ride Challenge participants have inspired zoo employees to rethink and commit to using alternative transportation to get to work on a daily basis.
Over the years, Denver Zoo has encouraged employees to create a mentor program where staff members volunteer to assist others with alternative transportation. These programs have included commuter meet ups, bicycle traffic safety classes, and bike maintenance days. They have also updated facilities on site to include staff locker rooms and bicycle commuter tool shed, to provide free resources for all commuters.
Over the past five years, Denver Zoo has supported and celebrated cycling through DRCOG’s Bike to Work day. Last year more than 55 staff members participated in the Bike to Work challenge, riding nearly 300 miles, our largest participation ever. The initiatives implemented towards decreasing transportation impacts have not gone unnoticed. In 2011, Denver Zoo was awarded the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s Green Award, Bike Denver’s Bicycled Friendly Business Award and the League of American Bicyclists’ Silver Level Bicycle Friendly Business Award. They encourage all to use the tools available in the Denver area community to decrease the use of vehicles and enjoy the outdoors while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Their commitments reach beyond employee efforts. Denver Zoo is an active sponsor of Bike Denver and Denver Bike Sharing. They also offer an admission discount of $2 for guests that use RTD to get to Denver Zoo. In 2012, with partners at Bike Denver we will be offering bicycle traffic safety classes to their 65,000 member households.