Tempe, Arizona was recognized as a valley leader for its clean air efforts in the 24th annual Clean Air Campaign luncheon in October.
The Clean Air Awards recognizes the best clean air and alternative transportation programs in Maricopa County.
Tempe was among 16 Valley organizations and 11 individuals that received top awards at the 24th annual Clean Air Campaign luncheon. The awards are a way to honor year-long efforts by employers to reduce commute-related emissions and traffic congestion.
Tempe specifically received the ‘Outstanding Bicycle Program” award and city employee Sue Taaffe won “Outstanding Trip Reduction Coordinator.”
Two annual events that Tempe holds that helped it receive the award are the “Tour de Tempe” and “Bike to Work Day.”
Held in October, The Tour de Tempe is a free 10-mile, non-competitive bike ride that weaves through Tempe featuring many of its multi-use paths and bicycle/pedestrian bridges. The first 850 riders receive a free; T-shirt and all participants receive free breakfast.
Held in April, Bike to Work Day encourages residents to visit one of the seven breakfast sites and receive free breakfast and event T-shirts.
Tempe has approximately 175 miles of dedicated bikeways, including on-street bike lanes and off-street multi-use paths and is designated a Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists.
Every employer with 50 or more employees in Maricopa County is required to reduce single occupant vehicle trips and/or miles traveled to the work site by 10 percent a year for five years, and then 5 percent for three additional years, or until a 60 percent rate of single occupant vehicle travel is reached as part of the Maricopa County Trip Reduction Program that was implemented in 1988.
As part of the Maricopa County Trip Reduction Program employers have to complete five items off a list to show they are working to reduce single occupant vehicle trips. Options range from surveying and providing each employee with alternative modes of transportation to incentives to encourage employees to live closer to work.
To comply with the program Tempe spends $91,000 a year out of the transportation budget with $82,000 thousand of that going specifically to buying platinum transit passes to all city employees and the rest for community events.
A platinum pass allows pass holders to ride local, express, rapid bus routes and light rail. The employer is charged for actual number of rides up to a maximum of $55 per month per ride for local bus and light rail and up to a maximum of $85 per month per ride for express and rapid bus routes.
Taaffe, Community Outreach and Marketing Coordinator for the City of Tempe, is in charge of making sure these events become a reality and coordinating between different city departments, making sure everyone is doing their part in the program.
Taaffe believes that it is important for the City of Tempe to provide sustainable options for it’s employees and residents and tries to lead to way for other cities and employers in the valley.