Race To The Beach Announces Grand Prize Winner

After six weeks, 781 commuters logged more than 6,700 clean commutes and avoided driving alone 211,405 miles! Thank  you to everyone who participated in the Race and by doing so, helped make the Charlotte area a cleaner, greener and healthier place to live and work.

Now that the Race is complete, it’s time to announce the Grand Prize Winner of a getaway to Shell Island Resort in Wrightsville Beach, NC: Dennis from Duke Energy was randomly selected from all of our eligible Racers who logged at least six clean commutes between July 13 and August 23, 2015.

Thank you again to our Race To The Beach partners, Charlotte Area Air Awareness, Mecklenburg County Air Quality, CATS and Sustain Charlotte. We hope everyone will join us again for another fun Clean Commute Challenge soon!

Race To The Beach Announces Week Six Prize Winner

Congratulations to Julia at Davidson College! She won our Walking Week prize drawing for a FitBit Flex and a Carolinas HealthCare System gym bag filled with fitness gear. Thanks to our sponsors this week: Charlotte Area Air Awareness and Carolinas HealthCare System.

CHS logo

Check back with us soon for an announcement of the Grand Prize Winner

The 2015 Race To The Beach was a six-week Clean Commute Challenge that offered local commuters a chance to learn about alternative ways to get to work in the Charlotte metro region, while earning entries in weekly prize drawings and a grand prize drawing for a beach vacation for logging clean commutes. More than 780 Racers logged 6,727 clean commutes – avoiding nearly 161,500 miles of driving. It just goes to show that a lot of little steps can have a huge impact on local air quality and human health.

We will announce the Grand Prize winner on Wednesday, August 26.

Race To The Beach Announces Week Five Prize Winner

Congratulations to Richard at Wells Fargo! He’ll soon be spending his $100 gift card at the bike shop of his choosing thanks to the generosity of Alta Planning + Design.

Alta Logo white on red

Last chance to earn entries

This is the last week of the Race To The Beach. With the finish line in sight, there are only a couple days left to log your clean commutes. Record at least one clean commute for the week of August 17-23 to be eligible for the drawing to win a FitBit Flex and Carolinas Healthcare System gym bag and gear. Log at least six clean commutes over the course of the Race to be eligible for the grand prize drawing for a Wrightsville Beach getaway.

Entries must be received by 11:59PM on August 23. Visit RaceToTheBeach.com now to record your clean commutes! Check out past prize winners, and keep your fingers crossed that your name will be added to the list on Monday, August 24.

Week Six: These Shoes Were Made for Walking

We’re in the final week of the 2015 Race To The Beach Clean Commute Challenge. More than 770 Racers have logged more than 4,900 clean commutes. That translates to more than 117,000 miles avoided!

As we get closer to the checkered flag, it’s important not to slow down. Let’s keep our momentum going and cross that finish line with as many clean commutes as possible!

Group Of Businesspeople Walking Along Street

This week, we’ll focus on overcoming barriers to what is likely the most difficult, but surely the greenest, way to clean commute: Walking. Unless you are as dedicated as this guy, distance is the biggest hurdle to walking. Most people who walk to work have less than three miles to travel. How far do you live from your place of work? If the answer is less than three miles, think about walking to work instead of driving alone in your car.

Plan your path

Google maps is a great place to start planning your route. After plugging in your starting and ending addresses, you can choose a pedestrian route. It will give you walking directions as well as the estimated time it will take and the total distance.

Google Walking Directions

Also, check out the Mecklenburg County greenway maps for opportunities to incorporate a more scenic route into your commute. Keep an eye out for the Cross Charlotte Trail, a planned 26-mile trail from Pineville through Center City to Cabarrus County.

Give yourself enough time


You may want to practice your route once or twice before your first walking commute. The time estimate from your Google Maps search is a good starting point. Leave yourself enough time for the walk and to get settled once you arrive.

Be prepared for the weather


When you’re walking to work, the weather may not always cooperate. Be prepared with an umbrella and rain boots at the office in case a notorious Carolina summer storm creeps up in the afternoon.

Stay safe


Know the rules of the road for pedestrians. Use crosswalks, wait for a walking light and look left, right and left again before crossing a lighted intersection. It’s always best to err on the side of caution, especially when you’re walking near areas with heavy vehicle traffic. Here’s a helpful video with more tips on walking safely in Charlotte.

Freshen up

Once you’ve arrived at safely at work, you may want to leave yourself a few extra minutes to freshen up before the work day begins. It’s a good idea to bring a change of clothes and shoes to the office ahead of time so you don’t have to carry them with you on your walk.


Feeling a little sticky after your walking commute? Take advantage of free shower facilities if your workplace offers such amenities. If you’re a gym member and it’s along your route, pop in for a quick shower. After all, your walking commute counts as a workout!

Feel great

Studies show that people who walk more and drive less may experience less psychological stress, may be more creative, have lower risk of chronic health conditions and lower obesity rates.

Two business professionals walking down street

Whether you walk, bike, work a compressed schedule, telecommute, carpool, ride transit or a combination of these, be sure to log at least one clean commute this week at RaceToTheBeach.com to be eligible for the weekly prize drawing. Log at least six clean commutes by August 23, 2015, to be eligible for the grand prize drawing – a getaway to Shell Island Resort at Wrightsville Beach.

Happy Clean Commuting!



Race To The Beach Announces Week Four Drawing Winner

Congratulations to Max at Snyder’s-Lance. Max won a Monthly Local CATS pass good for unlimited rides on CATS buses and the LYNX Blue Line for the month of August plus a gift basket filled with tasty treats from Earl’s Grocery. Earl’s is located on Elizabeth Avenue, right next to a stop along the LYNX Gold Line — Charlotte’s free-to-ride streetcar. Stop by for lunch or a coffee on your way to work.

Need a new helmet, cycling shoes or other gear to get your bike road-ready?

Clean commute at least once this week to be eligible for this week’s prize drawing. Alta Planning + Design has donated a $100 gift certificate to the bike shop of the winner’s choosing.

Alta Logo white on red

If you haven’t made it to the beach yet, there’s still time to register for Race To The Beach and log at least six clean commutes to secure your entry in the Grand Prize drawing for a beach getaway. Picture yourself relaxing surfside at Shell Island Resort as you pedal, walk or share the ride on your clean commute. Good luck, Racers!

Six Steps to Becoming a Bike Commuter

It’s Bike Week! Sustain Charlotte created this guide to show you how to begin commuting on two wheels easily and safely.

Find a route

The key to a good commute is planning a safe and practical route. The Charlotte Cycling Guide shows current and planned bike lanes, signed bike routes, paved and unpaved greenways, off-street paths and suggested bike routes. If there are no bike lanes or greenways nearby, don’t assume you can’t commute by bike.

Many of our neighborhood streets have low traffic volume and are ideal for new bicyclists. Use Google Maps with the ‘imagery’ view selected to see detailed street and intersection layouts. You can choose the ‘bicycle’ option to find a recommended route between any two locations, or a circuit of locations. It’s always a good idea to ask bicyclists in your neighborhood or workplace what routes they recommend. Then, “ground truth” your route before you commute by riding on a low-traffic day. CDOT’s Bicycle Program page offers info about routes and safety.

Combine your bike commute with public transportation. CATS buses can carry up to two bikes (see this video of how to load it on the rack), and you can bring your bike on the LYNX light rail.

Get equipped

Don’t have a bike? If you have a Charlotte B-cycle station near your home and workplace, an annual membership is a simple and cost-effective way to commute. The Re-Cyclery repairs donated bicycles and sells them at an affordable price to the public. Our many area bike shops can help you choose equipment that fits your needs and budget.


The Re-cyclery sells bikes at reasonable prices and proceeds support bike education for kids.

Mecklenburg County is home to an estimated 300,000 bikes, many of them lurking unused in garages and attics. Dust off that bike, check the brakes and adjust the tire pressure, visit your local bike shop for any needed repairs and take an easy test ride to make sure everything is in working order.

You don’t need spandex or a lot of expensive gear to get started. Here are the essentials:

  • Properly fitting helmet
  • Bike lock
  • Rear and front lights
  • Water bottle and holder
  • Air pump for tire inflation

Learn to ride safely

Whether you ride on bike lanes, greenways or main travel lanes, always follow traffic laws and make yourself visible to vehicle drivers, pedestrians and other bicyclists. Interact respectfully with other road users. At a minimum, become familiar with basic bike safety practices and laws. Cycling classes for individuals or groups can be scheduled with certified instructors from the League of American Bicyclists. Cycling Savvy is a very beginner-friendly series which includes three sessions where you’ll learn how to identify and avoid safety hazards, practice new technical skills in an indoor space and end with a tour around Charlotte to develop confidence riding alone and with a group.


Obstacle avoidance drill during a Cycling Savvy class.

Get comfortable and connected

If the idea of bike commuting still feels uncomfortable, ease yourself into it with plenty of planning and practice. Become comfortable riding near your home. Try out your commuting route for the first time during a low traffic time of the week, perhaps a Saturday or Sunday morning. Come to a beginner-friendly group ride like the Sunday Slow Ride, bring the whole family to the Saturday morning Kidical Mass Ride or find a ride that meets your skill level at WeeklyRides.com. Join the Charlotte Bicycle Commuter Mentor Program forum to meet experienced bike commuters from all over the region who will be able to offer advice on routes, parking, equipment and may even offer to meet you or accompany you on your first bike commuter outing.

Commit to commute

Start small by committing to commute by bike one day per week. Friday is a great day for most employees since many companies allow a more casual dress code, the workday is often shorter than earlier in the week, and there are few late afternoon or evening business obligations.

The Free Wheelin’ Fridays bike commute is designed to help new bike commuters to Uptown overcome barriers and enjoy a stress-free ride to work. There are currently three departure points (Plaza Midwood, South End, and Wesley Heights). If your commute doesn’t end in Uptown, why not organize a small group of neighbors or co-workers to meet for breakfast one day a week and begin riding together?


Meet new friends and commute to Uptown with Free Wheelin’ Fridays!

Enjoy the benefits

The average household in Mecklenburg County spends 26% of their income on transportation, much higher than the national average of only 19%. AAA reports that the annual cost of owning and maintaining a car is $8,876. Replacing some or all of your car commutes with bike commuting will free up money that you can spend on other things.

Did you know that Charlotte has the largest Bike Benefits program in the country? This little sticker goes on your bike helmet and earns you big discounts at dozens of local businesses when you ride your bike to them.

Commuting by bike will fatten your wallet, but it can also shrink your waistline. A study of nearly 2,400 adults found that those who biked to work were fitter; were leaner; had better triglyceride levels, blood pressure and insulin levels and were less likely to be obese than those who didn’t active commute to work. Plus, 30-60 minutes of daily physical activity, such as biking to work, is associated with lower blood pressure in women and low hypertension in both genders.

Each car trip you replace with a bike ride means that no ozone-forming pollutants and greenhouse gases will enter our air as a result of your commute. As Mecklenburg County’s population grows, clean commuting will help to keep our community a great place to live, work and play for generations to come. Together, we can improve our region’s air quality!

Learn more about commuting by bike and other forms of sustainable transportation at MoveCharlotteSmarter.org.


Race To The Beach Announces Week Three Prize Drawing Winner

Congratulations to Jonathan from CB& I. He is the lucky winner of a pair of CATS 10-ride Express Plus passes and a Snyder’s-Lance gift basket.



How you can enter to be the Week Four winner

Log at least one clean commute this week (August 3-9) at RaceToTheBeach.com and you will be entered in the drawing for a CATS Local Monthly pass (good for unlimited rides on local CATS buses and the LYNX) and a gift basket from Earl’s Grocery.

Log at least six clean commutes to be entered in the grand prize drawing: A two-night stay at Shell Island Resort in Wrightsville Beach.

Week Four: Ride the Rails


You’ve seen it zoom by, either uptown or through the flurry of apartment complexes being built along South Blvd. The LYNX Blue Line light rail service is a shining star among the ever changing Charlotte skyline. Until recently, the Blue Line was the only rail service Charlotte offered. On July 14, the City of Charlotte and CATS opened the CityLYNX Gold Line, a different kind of rail service. The CityLYNX Gold Line is Charlotte’s new streetcar service, which means it operates on rails, in the middle of the street, just like cars. So why rail? Come along as we talk about the benefits of making rail your commuting option and how to navigate Charlotte’s growing rail services.

LYNX Blue Line

The LYNX Blue Line is the Charlotte region’s first light rail service. It is 9.6 miles long and operates from ​I-485 at South Boulevard to Uptown Charlotte. With 15 stations, including seven park and ride locations, the LYNX Blue Line provides a congestion-free commute with a consistent travel time. LYNX Blue Line operates seven days a week. Weekday service operates from 5:26 a.m. to 1:26 a.m., and service is available every 10 minutes during weekday rush hour and every 15 minutes during non-rush hours. Weekend service operates every 20 minutes during the day and every 30 minutes during late night hours.




What about payment?

Riding the Blue Line is the same rate as local fare, which is $2.20. Before boarding the Blue Line, make sure to purchase your ticket either online at ridetransit.org or at the ticket vending machines conveniently located on each rail station platform. They look like this:


You must have a valid ticket to ride the LYNX Blue Line. Throughout the day, CATS has a security team that randomly checks riders for paid tickets. If you are caught without a ticket, you could be given a $50 fine. Remember to have a valid ticket every time you ride!

Each LYNX Blue Line station provides the opportunity to connect to CATS buses and continue your trip on public transportation. For more information about riding the bus, simply see last week’s post or visit the CATS website.

CityLYNX Gold Line

So you’ve ridden the LYNX Blue Line all the way to Uptown Charlotte, and now you have a hankering to visit the Elizabeth neighborhood? Hop aboard the CityLYNX Gold Line! You can catch the CityLYNX Gold Line at any of the six convenient stops. Getting off the LYNX Blue Line at the Charlotte Transportation Center makes it easy to connect to the Gold Line.  Simply go downstairs to street level where the first stop is in front of Time Warner Cable Arena on Trade Street.

The Gold Line operates daily, running every 15 minutes during peak hours and every 20 minutes during non-peak hours.  Operating hours are:

​Monday – Thursday:        ​6:00am to 11:00pm

​Friday:                                 6:00am to 12:00am​

​Saturday:             ​               8:00am to 12:00am

Sunday: ​                              ​9:00am to 7:00pm


The CityLYNX Gold Line is a free service, so you do not need a ticket to ride. Whether you’re going to work, an important appointment, or out to eat, the CityLYNX Gold Line can help get you there. ​

Because the CityLYNX Gold Line is a new service to Charlotte, operating in traffic, we all need to pay extra close attention when around the streetcar and rails in the roadway. Here are some safety tips to remember:

  • Obey all traffic signals and signs. They are there for your safety, not as an inconvenience.
  • Cross only at designated crosswalks. There are clearly marked signs showing you safe areas to cross the street.
  • Always hold your child’s hand when waiting for the streetcar or light rail.
  • Rail and recreation don’t mix. Rail vehicles and tracks are not the places for partying, pranks, or horseplay. CATS wants you to enjoy your rail experience in a responsible way.
  • Keep away from all overhead wires that power trains. These high voltage wires will cause serious injury.


We hope you enjoy your time riding the rails with CATS! Ready to ride? Click here for information on fares and pass sale locations.

Race To The Beach Announces Week Two Prize Winner

Congratulations to Nikki at AECOM! She telecommuted her way to a $100 Autobell Car Wash gift card courtesy of Flextronics.


Is this your lucky week?

Log at least one clean commute each week to be eligible for our weekly prize drawings. See what prizes we are offering and plan your next clean commute. Thank you to all of our sponsors for your generous donations.

Log at least six clean commutes between July 13 and August 23 to be entered in the grand prize drawing for a Wrightsville Beach getaway.

Week Three: Hop on the CATS bus

We know convenience is one of the most important factors to consider when deciding how you’re going to get to work each day. Fortunately, with more than 70 routes, including 18 express routes, commuting on CATS buses is convenient, stress-free and very economical. Not sure where to start? We’re here to help.

CATS3 logo

Where do I start?

The first step is to look at the CATS System Map to determine which bus route(s) you need to take to reach your destination.  The system map gives an overview of all the bus service. You can also use the Google Trip Planner. This is located on the left hand side of ridetransit.org. You simply type in your stating point, your end point, date and time. Google will work its magic and tell you exactly where to go and which bus route to catch.

Trip Planner

What is an express route?

CATS Express service is a great way to commute into the city if you live in the outskirts of Mecklenburg County. Express Routes are quick, efficient and have minimal stops to make your commute as easy as possible.  We also have regional express service for Gaston, Cabarrus and York Counties.

Need to access bus information on the go? There’s an App for that.

It’s the CATS transit system in the palm of your hand.  Want to know when the next CATS bus or LYNX train will depart a stop?  Ride CATS is the quick and easy way to ride public transit in the Charlotte region.  Features include:

  • Get the next time a bus / train is to arrive at ANY stop or station
  • Displays next 3 times a transit vehicle is to arrive at a stop or station
  • Save your most frequented stops and routes for quick access to get the next bus / train trip
  • Display entire route and stops on map
  • Plan a trip through Google Transit
  • Send Complaints, Compliments or Requests to CATS Customer Service
  • Complete stop listing with the option to display on a map

CATS App 1 CATS App 2

The CATS app is available for iPhone and Android in the app store.

Did you know that several CATS bus corridors connect you to work as frequently as the LYNX Blue Line?

The 9-Central connects Plaza-Midwood with 10-minute rush hour and 15-minute midday service in both directions to and from Uptown.  Other areas, such as NoDa, have frequent service though a combination of bus routes.  North Davidson Street is served by both 3-The Plaza and 23-Shamrock.  These two routes are scheduled to create a 10-minute rush hour and 15-minute midday frequency.

While many frequent bus corridors converge Uptown, another major employment center with frequent service is the University Research Park.  The 54X-URP Express operates in both directions every 10 to 15 minutes during the weekday rush hours, providing 11 trips in the morning and another 11 trips in the evening for commuters working in the University Research Park.

Maps and schedules for these and other CATS routes can be found online at:


Ready to ride? Click here for information on fares and pass sale locations.