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Walk & Roll Challenge
The Tenth Annual Walk & Roll Challenge
Annette Prosterman
Transportation Coordinator

Ph: (210) 362-5213

During September, 2014, the next to last month of the “ozone season” when air pollution typically spikes in the San Antonio area, over 1,800 area residents collectively took more than 67 thousand walking, biking, busing, or carpooling trips along with trips saved though telecommuting and working compressed schedules, that saved over 787 thousand vehicle miles traveled and kept over a ton 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 10th Annual Walk & Roll Challenge, which AACOG has conducted in support of the San Antonio-Bexar County 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 (MPO), Bexar County, City of Leon Valley, City of San Antonio, CPS Energy, Lake|Flato Architects, San Antonio Housing Authority, San Antonio River Authority, San Antonio Water System, Southwest Research Institute, Spurs Sports and Entertainment, San Antonio District of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), University Health System, University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio, USAA, and VIA Metropolitan Transit.

Based on the number of trips recorded by employees divided by the number of employees in the organization, winners in the following categories were determined:

Large organization: 1st place - City of San Antonio, 2nd place - Bexar County

Midsized organization: 1st place - San Antonio Water System, 2nd place - TxDOT, San Antonio District

Small organization: 1st place - Alamo Area MPO, 2nd place - Lake|Flato Architects 

Outstanding overall achievement: USAA (for a combination of outstanding organizational commitment and employee achievement) 

The winning organizations were awarded just before the Metropolitan Planning Organization's Transportation Policy Board Meeting on October 27th, 2014, at VIA's Metro Center in San Antonio, at 1:30 p.m.

2014 Walk & Roll Challenge Awards Ceremony
Photo of Award Ceremony

2014 Walk & Roll Challenge Drawing Winners
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 Brent Mora of USAA, Haley Holmes of the City of San Antonio, Carmen Leos of Bexar County, and William Martinez of the City of San Antonio.  The grand prize drawing winner was Denise Liserio of USAA.

The Challenge Objective
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 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.