Two Wheels or Four, Carbonless Commuting is Getting Easier

May 20, 2016

Kelly Kline

Economic Development Director & Chief Innovation Officer

Commuting takes a toll -- on a personal level, and on the planet. But for those of us who must commute, guilt-free solutions are emerging thanks to significant investments in local infrastructure. Last week, the future of commuting looked a little greener with hundreds of bicyclists participating in "Bike to Work Day" and the unveiling of eight new charging stations in Fremont’s Innovation District.

Bike commuters have made significant strides as Fremont's bike lane network has extended its reach. At last count, Fremont had 156 miles of bike paths including trails, designated bike lanes, and bike routes, with many more in the planning stages. For the annual Bike to Work day on May 12th, Fremont had several "energizer stations” throughout the city for riders to refresh and refuel, and the numbers at its busiest stations (BART and the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge) have been higher in the last two years than ever before. We made the rounds that day, and collected some great anecdotes.

At Don Edwards, which makes the critical connection between Fremont and the Peninsula, I spoke with a group of Google employees commuting from various points in the East Bay over to Mountain View. One "Googler", Sumer Mohammed, was making her first commute by bike. She welcomed the opportunity to try the route in a group, as a precursor to eventually making the trip on her own. She was only halfway there, but had a huge smile on her face and reported her brain was already engaged in a different way.

At Tesla's energizer station, I met Larry Kawalec, who actually has a relatively short commute from his Fremont home to his job near Tesla. He chose to visit multiple stations for a lengthier workout. (There arealways overachievers amongst us!)

Electric vehicle (EV) commuters also had a good week. Already, Fremont's 94539 ZIP code has received more EV rebates than anywhere else in the state, and the supporting charging network is keeping pace. A unique public-private partnership between the City of Fremont, the Fremont Chamber of Commerce, industrial landlord Prologis Inc., charging station manufacturer, Delta Products Corporation, and charging payment software company Gridscape Solutions teamed up for a successful grant award from the California Energy Commission. The result: eight new publicly-accessible chargers for Bayside Business Park within Fremont's Innovation District, which are listed on the PlugShare map. Four of the 16 ports are "high-speed" and will entice new EV drivers, while also making it easier for existing EV owners to charge near one of the Bay Area's most dense employment areas.

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