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Launched almost 40 years ago by the San Joaquin Council of Governments, Commute Connection was established when times were a little different – offering carpooling as a single solution in response to the need for resource conservation in the 1970s during the energy crisis. As time went on, the program expanded the options to promote vanpooling, biking, walking, and riding transit.


Champion Spotlight: Jeffrey Sparks, Hilmar Cheese Company

We love hearing stories about our Smart Travel community. This month, we want to highlight the story of Jeffrey Sparks, who has been traveling by bike to his job at Hilmar Cheese Company for just over a year.

At twenty four years old, Jeffrey has already shown a strong commitment to his health (and bike miles!). Since discovering a safer route to travel on his bike, he has been commuting the 7.5 miles from Turlock to Hilmar Cheese Company five days a week since March 2016.

Jeffrey has also pursued certification as a League Cycling Instructor, qualifying him to administer the Traffic Skills 101 course as well as several others under the banner of the League of American Bicyclists. This matches well with his interest in educating kids about bicycling, as in his words, “they will become the experts in active transportation and road safety, and they will embarrass their parents into riding their bikes more.”

Fun fact: Do you know what an “Everest” is in bike lingo? Well, Jeffrey recently completed one, having biked over 29,029 vertical feet in one day, which is greater than the equivalent distance from sea level to the peak of Mt. Everest (and it took over sixteen hours on his bike!).

High fives and kudos to Jeffrey for showing that with a little research and dedication, it is possible to leave the car behind and make a bicycle your main Smart Travel option.

Amazon & Frito-Lay Take Home the Gold!

Around here, we already knew that the companies that choose to call our counties home are amazing, but over the last few months, we sought to find the employers who shone brighter than the rest. We wanted to find employers who show Excellence in Commuter Options. Whether that be through their innovative ideas and creative events or even their marketing and incentives; we wanted to recognize employers who went above and beyond for their employees.

After searching both San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties, respectively, we concluded our searches with a beautiful award and a basket of local goodies for both Amazon and Frito-Lay. The Amazon Tracy Fulfillment Center’s crew led the San Joaquin pack by holding at least half a dozen on-site events, in order to give their employees every chance to utilize Smart Travel options, instead of rolling into work alone. Furthermore, not only have they logged almost 1,500 trips and have burned a cool 4,700 calories, but they even designate preferred parking spots for carpools.

It seems as though preferred parking spots is the thing to do, as our Stanislaus Winner, Frito-Lay, has been saving those good spots for their carpoolers for years now. Frito Lay never ceases to step up to the plate. Each year, they donate thousands of bags of chips to the Bike to Work Month cause. So if you’ve ever snacked on some chips from one of our Bike to Work Month events, you can thank Frito-Lay!

The search isn’t over just yet… so don’t you worry Merced! Keep your eyes peeled because we’re coming for you this summer!