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Walk & Roll Challenge
2013 Walk & Roll Challenge Helps Keep over Four Tons of Smog Components from the Air
During September and October of 2013, the last two months of the “ozone season” when air pollution tends to be the worst in the San Antonio area, over 2,700 people collectively took more than 184,000 walking, biking, busing, or carpooling trips along with trips saved though telecommuting and working compressed schedules, that saved over 2.7 million vehicle miles traveled and kept over 4 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 9th 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. 

During 2013, 17 regional businesses, governmental agencies, and other organizations participated in the challenge, namely; AACOG, Bexar County, City of Leon Valley, City of New Braunfels, City of San Antonio, CPS Energy, Lake | Flato Architects, San Antonio-Bexar County Metropolitan Planning Organization, San Antonio Housing Authority, San Antonio River Authority, San Antonio Water System, Southwest Research Institute, Texas Department of Transportation (San Antonio District), USAA, and University Heath System, University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio, 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 - Southwest Research Institute, 2nd place - VIA Metropolitan Transit

Small organization: 1st place - Lake|Flato Architects, 2nd place - San Antonio-Bexar Co. Metropolitan Planning Organization

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

All participating organizations were recognized and the winning organizations were awarded just before the Metropolitan Planning Organization's Transportation Policy Board Meeting on December 16, 2013, at VIA's Metro Center in San Antonio.

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. Ongoing rewards are offered to those who record greener trips on NuRide.

The Challenge Objective
The San Antonio region typically experiences multiple days from April through October (the "ozone season") 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, 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.  Our region is in compliance with federal standards as long as the three-year average of the fourth-highest eight-hour average ozone concentrations measured at area pollution monitors does not exceed 75 parts per billion (ppb).  Until August 2012, San Antonio had been the largest city in the United States to remain in full compliance with all federal air quality standards.  During that month, however, our fourth highest reading, when averaged with those of 2011 and 2010, pushed us out of compliance with the federal standard for ground-level ozone.  During the 2013 ozone season, the region was unable to regain that status and remained in noncompliance.

While it may take some time before the federal government actually designates the San Antonio-New Braunfels Metropolitan Statistical District as a non-attainment area, the consequences for failing to meet federal air quality standards could include increased regulations for new and existing businesses and the loss of some highway funding.

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.

About the Walk and Roll Challenge
During a Walk & Roll Challenge, which usually take place during the late spring/early fall, any individual who lives in the AACOG region (a 13-county area surrounding San Antonio)*, is 18 years of age or older, and records their trips on NuRide may participate. There is nothing individuals need to do to participate beyond registering (if they have not already done so) and recording their trips on NuRide.

Eligible to include in a Walk & Roll Challenge are trips that participants travel to and/or from a specific destination (i.e., not solely for the sake of exercise) by carpooling, vanpooling, riding the bus, riding a bicycle, or walking. In addition to travel that actually occurs by alternative means, “trips” are credited to people who telecommute (work from home on a given day instead of going to the office) and for those who work in their office only four days a week or nine days every two weeks due to a compressed work schedule.

Organizations located within the AACOG region that notify AACOG of their desire to participate in a Walk & Roll Challenge may also compete to see whose employees can collectively record the most alternative trips per employee. Those organizations whose employees record the most alternative trips during the challenge timeframe are recognized for their successes during a special award ceremony.

Any time of year, individuals recording trips on NuRide, the website where trips are officially tallied for this Challenge, earn points towards dozens of discounted or free offers from such businesses as Jamba Juice, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, Advance Auto Parts, La Madeleine, Clothesline Cleaners, and the Witte Museum. In addition to these rewards, however, those who record trips during a Walk & Roll Challenge may also be eligible for special weekly and grand prize drawings. 

Check back to this page during the summer of 2014 for details about the 10th Annual Walk & Roll Challenge!

*AACOG’s 13-county region includes Atascosa, Bandera, Bexar, Comal, Frio, Gillespie, Guadalupe, Karnes, Kendall, Kerr, McMullen, Medina, and Wilson Counties.