As Senior Marketing Specialist for COG’s Commuter Connections program, Douglas Franklin helps spread the word about transportation alternatives, such as carpooling, bicycling, and using public transit.
Commuter Connections, a regional network of transportation organizations coordinated by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments’ (COG) National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board, provides information on commuting options and offers ride matching services.
Before joining COG 14 years ago, Franklin worked in the private sector at a marketing firm for 15 years. “One thing that drew me to COG was the opportunity to support meaningful work,” said Franklin.
Franklin’s work through Commuter Connections is driven by improving air quality and reducing the number of single occupant vehicles on the road.
Franklin provides marketing support for many of Commuter Connections’ regional initiatives, including Bike to Work Day
Bike to Work Day, which will be held on May 19 this year, is an annual event hosted by Commuter Connections and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association.
“Bike to Work Day is for anyone who has ever considered exploring bicycling as a viable way to get to work, and also celebrates those who already do,” said Franklin. “There are many benefits of biking to work. It’s a healthy activity, affordable way to get around, it’s fun, reduces traffic congestion, and helps the environment.”
Franklin begins planning Bike to Work Day from September of the prior year, along with members of the Bike to Work Day Steering Committee, who represent local governments, federal agencies, private companies, nonprofit organizations, and retail bike shops.
To help promote the event, Franklin manages marketing and sponsorships, including radio advertising, T-shirts, posters, banners, and online presence. Thanks in large part to the efforts by Franklin and the committee, a record 17,500 people signed up for the event last year.
Each year, Franklin looks for ways to grow the event and make it even more successful. This year, there will be 85 pit stops across the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia, where participants can stop for comradery, T-shirts, refreshments, and prizes.
“We have expanded the pit stops into all four quadrants of D.C., including underserved areas east of the Anacostia River. We also added more afternoon pit stops for commuters on their way home,” Franklin said.
For the first time, participants checking into the 10 largest pit stops will be able to take photos and share their experiences with a Bike to Work Day Snapchat filter. Through marketing efforts like this, Franklin says he hopes the event will get people excited about biking to work.
“Bike to Work Day provides a sense of community. It is about empowering people to try bicycling for the first time or increase their frequency of bicycling as a commuting option.”
He promotes alternatives to driving on Car Free Day
Similar to Bike to Work Day, Franklin also helps organize Car Free Day, which is held every year on September 22. Car Free Day encourages people to get around without driving alone in cars and instead ride a train, take a bus, bicycle, carpool, vanpool, walk, or telework.
“Car Free Day is open to anyone, not just commuters, to try using alternatives to driving alone for a day,” Franklin said.
For example, Franklin works with area universities to help raise awareness of students to try modes of transportation other than driving alone to get to and from school, where limited parking is typically a factor.
Through Commuter Connections’ regional efforts such as Car Free Day and Bike to Work Day, the region is experiencing a shift in driving alone, says Franklin. Since 2004, drive alone commuting has decreased from 71.4 percent to 61 percent in 2016, while transportation alternatives including teleworking, transit, biking, and walking have increased, according to the latest Commuter Connections State of the Commute Survey.
He coordinates the annual ceremony recognizing employers with outstanding commuter benefits
Commuter Connections offers resources not only to commuters, but also employers. Franklin is responsible for developing alternative transportation brochures, an employer/employee bicycling guide, and quarterly newsletter to help employers support commuting alternatives in their workplaces.
Additionally, Franklin leads the annual awards ceremony recognizing exceptional employers who facilitate the use of alternative commuting methods. From teleworking and flex-time schedules to public transit reimbursement and carpooling incentives, there are many ways that organizations can make a difference in their communities to reduce the number of cars on the road and provide for cleaner air through reduced auto emissions, Franklin says.