2017 Walk & Roll Challenge
In May, 2017, during the “ozone season” when air pollution typically spikes in the San Antonio area, 2,707 area residents collectively took more than 102 thousand walking, biking, busing, and carpooling trips. Others avoided taking vehicle trips though telecommuting and working compressed schedules. Together, these individuals saved over 1.6 million vehicle miles traveled and kept over 2 tons of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds (the components of ozone or “smog”) from the air. These individuals participated in the Alamo Area Council of Governments’ (AACOG) Walk & Roll Challenge by recording their trips on NuRide.
This was the 12th Annual Walk & Roll Challenge, which AACOG has conducted in support of the Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Walk & Roll Program to draw attention to the connection between transportation and air quality and to encourage people in the AACOG region to adopt new modes of transportation. As well as rewarding individuals who participate, the challenge recognizes and awards regional businesses and organizations whose employees record the most commuting and other purposeful trips that are taken without being a single occupant in a motorized vehicle.
The organizations taking up this challenge with ACCOG were: the Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (AAMPO); Alamo Colleges; Bexar County; City of Leon Valley; City of San Antonio; CPS Energy; Joint Base San Antonio; Lake|Flato Architects; Linebarger, Goggan, Blair, and Sampson; SA2020; San Antonio Express-News; San Antonio Housing Authority; San Antonio River Authority; San Antonio Water System; Southwest Research Institute; Texas Department of Transportation (San Antonio District); University of Texas Health Center; USAA; and VIA Metropolitan Transit.
Winners in the following categories were:
- Best Newcomer (the first-time competitor with the highest percentage of trips per employee): Linebarger, Goggan, Blair, and Sampson
- Most Improved (the returning competitor with the highest percentage of trips per employee): City of Leon Valley
- Smartest Organization (the competitor that completed the highest number of activities to increase awareness and participation among its employees): Southwest Research Institute
In addition to the organizational component of this challenge, any individual recording three or more trips per week on NuRide during the challenge timeframe was eligible for weekly $50 Visa Gift Card drawings, and anyone who recorded at least one trip during the entire timeframe was eligible for the grand prize, $200 Visa Gift Card drawing. The four weekly drawing winners were: Lawrence Bustos of Joint Base San Antonio, Wallace James, Jr. of the U.S. Department of Justice, Beth Holland of the City of San Antonio, and Kathy Duncan of USAA. The grand prize winner was Teresa Maillard of UTSA.
The San Antonio region typically experiences multiple days from April through October when air pollution reaches unhealthy levels. Some of the pollutants in our air originate from other regions of the country or from natural sources, but a significant portion is created locally from activities we engage in each day – such as driving our vehicles.
Poor air quality adversely impacts us in a number of ways. Prolonged exposure can cause such symptoms as headaches, nausea, and breathing difficulties. Periods of high air pollution levels have been associated with increased emergency room visits and school absences in a number of studies. Furthermore, certain groups are particularly sensitive to air pollution: children, the elderly, people who are active outdoors, and people with respiratory illnesses.
The consequences of air pollution don’t end with human health. Air pollution harms our environment and may impact economic growth. In addition, high air pollution levels jeopardize our ability to meet federal standards for air quality.
Until 2012, San Antonio could boast that it was the largest city in the United States that was still in compliance with all federal clean air standards. In that year, however, the San Antonio-New Braunfels MSA exceeded the standard threshold for ground-level ozone, which is based on a three-year average of the fourth highest, eight-hour reading at any one of the area's official monitors. This year, the San Antonio area still remains in a state of non-compliance.
If San Antonio is officially designated as a standard nonattainment area by the federal government, consequences could include increased regulations for new and existing businesses, the loss of some highway funding, and possibly emissions inspections for our vehicles.
The major sources of locally-generated air pollution are the vehicles we drive. Since these are sources we control, we have a unique opportunity to take action and improve the situation: drive less and take fewer trips in motorized vehicles by ourselves. Our Walk & Roll Challenge’s overall goal encourages citizens to do just that.