Sustainable Office Policy: Validate My Bus Or Bike Ticket?

  • Posted on 7 January 2022
  • By Morgan Goodwin
I am often surprised at the ubiquity of parking validation. It’s the norm in Southern California, but I’ve only been here a few years, and still have that ‘fresh eyes’ view.
Parking validation makes sense, as a practice of welcoming visitors in a car-dominant but, parking-constrained city. It’s courteous, like offering your guests a cup of tea. But it’s also inequitable – why should someone’s costs of visiting you be covered only if they use a car, but not by other means of travel?
As someone who manages a small office, frequently visited by volunteers, I’m asking for your ideas.
What would an office policy be like that encourages transit, biking and walking at least as equally as driving, if not doing more to promote one over the other? There are some programs in place for staff, but we’ve yet to see something that works for visitors. What should it look like? 
There is, of course, no such thing as free parking. All parking is built by someone, maintained by someone, and if you’re a business, you pay to lease that parking. By validating parking, you are literally paying people to come to visit you, by paying for their parking. 
The Sierra Clubs’ transportation policy is focused on land-use and planning, not office management. That policy calls on us to: “Eliminate parking subsidies and minimum requirements to encourage shifts to biking, walking, scooting, carpooling and transit;” and our general transportation policy asks us to: “Promote alternative modes of transportation by encouraging compact mixed-use land use patterns that prioritize walking and biking over vehicles”
Option A: stop subsiding parking for anyone. Level the playing field. We don’t like this idea, because we still want to encourage people to visit us. 
Option B: give everyone who visits the office the same amount of money, whether that’s through paying their $5 parking validation, or some other means? That gets tricky when you consider keeping cash on hand to give to someone who took transit, or rode the bike. 
These aren’t great options, and surely there are businesses or organizations that have experimented with better ways to do this. What have you seen that works well? Let’s figure this out together.

Morgan Goodwin is the Angeles Chapter Director and long-time climate change activist. Morgan usually bikes to the Chapter offices in Koreatown.

Header photo via unsplash


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How about you offer those who used transit or rode a bike a free beverage (water, soda, coffee, tea, etc.) and/or a small snack (granola bar or similar) as both a thank-you and a way to 'level the field.'

1. Don't cut parking for cars. Sierra's antagonism towards cars is ablist. I live with MS and most maximize my energy - which means I use my car. 2. Get a bike rack. 3. Offer bus tokens.

Good ideas, but how about no validation? I always carried my bike up the stairs into my office or workplace,& 'parked' it there. I could carry my bike up the elevator & wheel it where I needed. Keeps your bike from getting stolen. Some placeslike JPL wer white collar, but some like meat pacing plant weren't. Some retail places have employee bike parking areas in places like warehouse/storage areas.

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