Business Center

Commuter Highlight: Walking and Taking the Light Rail to Work with Sophie Shulman

By: Sydney Lund, Transportation Demand Management Intern

September 18, 2019

Here at the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), we are working to enhance the quality of life and the environment of the citizens of Colorado by creating an integrated transportation system that focuses on safely moving people and goods by offering convenient linkages among modal choices. Many CDOT employees are serving as role models for their commitment to commuting to work by walking, biking, taking transit, or carpooling.

This week's commuter highlight is Sophie Shulman!

Sophie Shulman is the Chief of Innovative Mobility at CDOT and works at CDOT HQ/R1 building in Denver. She does not own a car and gets to work by either walking or taking the light rail. Read below for an interview with Sophie where she talks about her commute and tips she has to other staff who are considering walking to work.

Here Sophie is walking near the CDOT HQ/R1 building.

How do you commute to work?

I typically walk. Sometimes I take the light rail if the weather is not good or if I’m running late.

Why do you commute to work by walking or the light rail?

Well, I don’t own a car, so that is a primary reason. Also, I like to get exercise when I’m heading into work. It’s nice to have that time to just think. Sometimes I do a conference call while I’m walking to work. It’s just really nice to have that time that is just mine to not be focused on driving.

Why do you choose not to commute to work by a single-occupancy vehicle?

I don’t want to contribute to congestion and air quality issues, and I find driving at rush hour to be pretty stressful. Since I am lucky enough to have options that don’t require me to drive myself, I want to take advantage of them.

When it's raining or snowing, do you commute a different way to work?

I would take the light rail to work if it is raining or snowing.

What tips do you have to other CDOT employees regarding commuting to work by walking or light rail?

Some tips that I have to other CDOT employees who are considering walking or using the light rail is to look into the options that work for you - obviously walking won’t be feasible for everyone, but there might be a great bus or light rail station that you haven’t tried before. Wearing comfortable shoes and having a bag that is easy to carry, such as a backpack or convertible bag, is a huge help.

What are some obstacles that you face when commuting to work by walking or light rail and how have you overcome these obstacles?

Some obstacles that I face while walking to work is dressing for the outside weather and also bringing everything that I need to work. I will often bring a change of shoes in my bag so that I can change my shoes once I get to work. I have a work bag that turns into a backpack, which makes it more convenient to carry the items I need. When you have a car you can just throw everything that you need for work into the car. When you walk, you need to be a little more strategic about what you are carrying with you.

Another obstacle would be time. The light rail comes every 15 minutes, so if you miss the train, you would have to wait another 15 minutes for the next one and you could be late for a meeting. However, with driving, the timing can also be variable, depending on traffic. That is why I like walking to work because walking always takes the same amount of time to get to and from work.

On the weekends, how do you get around?

On the weekends when I stay in town, I often bike or walk to places. I will also use ridesharing services such as Uber or Lyft if I need to get somewhere that is not easily accessible by public transportation or walking. I’m also thinking about getting an electric vehicle while the Colorado tax credit is still $5,000 (+$7,500 federal tax credit).

If you could be any mode of transportation, which would you be?

If I could be any form of non-single occupancy mode of transportation I would probably pick walking. I think that walking is very calming and it is a nice way to start and end the day. You get time for yourself and time to think about the day on your walk.

Interested in commuting to work by walking, biking, or taking transit? Check out these biking and transit resources designed to help you commute to work.

Check out our past commuter highlight interviews here.

Do you commute to work by means other than driving alone? If so, we would like to highlight you! Send an email to Sydney Lund to be highlighted as a part of our commuter highlights series.