Thursday, March 12, 2009

Carpooling Etiquette

"Start carpooling by inviting one person to ride with you."

Here are some helpful tips (from "The Star Ledger" of New Jersey, 10 February 2009) on starting and keeping a carpool. I think the main benefit of carpooling is people helping each other. Some people have the custom of making the sign of the cross and saying a short prayer as they begin and end any car drive. Praying the Rosary can be very effective on longer rides. It is most appropriate to invite the others to a routine of prayer or to let them know of your own.

Sharing a ride can cut stress and gas bill

by Prue Salasky (McClatchy-Tribune News Service)

Everyone knows the economic and environmental reasons to carpool. It saves gas, which saves money, though the drop in price at the pump may have reduced that incentive. It also saves on greenhouse-gas emissions, and importantly for this region's congested roads, it cuts down on the number of vehicles on the road.

I areas where there are HOV lanes, it allows for a quicker commute.

Another, often overlooked, reason to carpool is that it can provide a low-stress commute for passengers--if it doesn't, then you should change carpool [manners or] partners.

Start slowly. Don't be overambitious in how rapidly you get a system started. Start by inviting one person to ride with you. If that works out, you could add more. If you think the idea of "carpooling" would be a turnoff to the independent-minded, then simply ask for a ride when your car's in the shop/getting an oil change, and offer to return the favor. That way no one feels tied to an arrangement that may not be suitable. If it works, then it can lead to a regular arrangement. Start by alternating rides once a week. If that works and schedules allow, gradually increase the number of days and number of passenger.

Be flexible. Consider the possibility even if you don't live in the same neighborhood, or if your workdays don't mesh exactly. By making small adjustments to your routine, it can become a viable new habit.

It's fine to be committed to the idea of ride-sharing, but treat it as a goal, not as a written-in-stone agreement. If one person wants to do all the driving or always be the passenger, consider that as an option and work out a payment agreement. Be prepared to add a little time to your compute if you have to drive out of your way for pickup or drop-off. Be open to sharing any errand time during the day.

Be considerate. Communicate clearly and be punctual. Don't play loud music. Find a car temperature that's acceptable to all. It is accepted etiquette to not open or close the windows, and not touch the radio--riding with a friend or colleague doesn't have to be so rigid, but these make fair guidelines for starters.

Inform your workplace. This has a twofold purpose. It alerts others to the existence of your arrangement and gives them an opportunity to approach you for ride-sharing, or for the company to set up a formal arrangements when more than a handful of people are interested. It also lets colleagues know that your time frame may be different or less flexible on particular days. If you work for a large employer or if your route/work schedule is likely shared by several others, consider a ride-share program.

Finally, if there is one available, sign up with your local commuting agency for help organizing shared rides.

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