LAFAYETTE -- Lafayetters, you now have a choice -- you can go to Lafayette, or GoLafayette.
To calculate the best form of travel, a person can call a friend for advice, consult a map, visit Mapmyride.com or consult BART's Quick Planner, Google Maps, Mapmyfitness.com or any of a dozen other sites.
Or, a savvy getabout can GoLafayette.org.
Previewed on Earth Day (April 22) and launched one month later, the first-of-its-kind website is a tool for discovering sustainable commutes in and around Lafayette. Developed by Sustainable Lafayette, in partnership with the Lafayette Community Foundation, the City of Lafayette, 511ContraCosta.org and a number of local business sponsors, GoLafayette makes it easy to ditch the outdated "jump in the jalopy" philosophy and go green.
With one hit, the 1.35-mile trek from the Lafayette Library and Learning Center to the Lafayette Reservoir appears on an easy-to-read Google-sponsored map on the sites energized, grass-toned screen.
And you learn more than simply the shortest path from A to B.
On foot, one learns from the accompanying graphic, a person burns 103.95 calories and no fossil fuels. Joining a bike brigade with a click of a mouse or a tap on a smart phone drops the caloric burn to 51.3, but slims the time from 25 minutes to six. A motorized
"One idea we've had for the future is to have an account where you can keep a record of how many calories you've saved. It would give a long-term relationship with it, instead of just checking it for a route," says Michael Dawson, the project leader who worked with Seattle's Conflare to create and design the site.
Thinking ahead has been his habit since moving to Lafayette in 2008 after 17 years in the high-tech industry, including a stint at Google. That's where Dawson met Al Gore, and he hasn't looked back at life in Silicon Valley ever since.
"This was in development for only six weeks," he says, calling Conflare's programming skills "crack smart" and highlighting one special feature.
"The Trip Planner, if you're familiar with programming, you'll recognize that it doesn't have to refresh when you go from the bike map to the car map. We made it easy to compare routes quickly."
Dawson says people have high expectations for their applications, which made it essential that GoLafayette's design also flows consistently onto tablets and mobile devices.
"When you view it on your mobile phone, it's not just a reduced version of what is on your computer: the Share This Route part enters in all the particulars," he boasts.
The social aspect of GoLafayette is not incidental. In fact, it might be the engine pumping the sites 500 hits in May alone.
"We don't look at the number of hits. For us, it's the depth of engagement with the site," Dawson claims.
With 80 percent of the site's action occurring on Trip Planner, the Tips and Trips option is expanding rapidly.
"Bo's Barbecue (restaurant) is easily accessible by bike or by foot from Burton Valley, the Trail Neighborhood or even Moraga if you know the shortcut," writes one traveler.
Reports another commuter, "I work in downtown Walnut Creek and purchased a Buddy 125 scooter a couple years ago for commuting to work and running errands around Lamorinda. It's a blast and better for the environment than taking my car."
Tellingly, the window for car tips reads, "Sorry, no results were found."
"We'd love people to decide to jump on their bike or take a walk down the trail, instead of grabbing their car keys," Dawson says. "That habitual change is what we'd like to have an effect on."
Sustainable Lafayette is not out to make money with the endeavor. Grants from the founding partners and annual sponsorships from local businesses like this year's Coldwell Banker, Clock's Etc., 511ContraCosta and the Lafayette Chamber of Commerce will cover development and hosting.
The number one addition GoLafayette users are requesting is bus route information. Because the site relies heavily on Google Map API, which doesn't sublicense data belonging to third parties, GoLafayette currently provides quick links to County Connection. The next iteration, Dawson promises, having just received the go-ahead to add a public transportation feature, will make the site more useful to the disabled and the general population.
For now, Dawson is looking forward to the Lafayette Art and Wine Festival, when he can hear how people are using GoLafayette and share a few tips of his own, like the one he offers, in parting, "My wife and I love to see how many extra toasts can we eat at Squirrels (Coffee Shop) if we walk instead of drive!"
Residents of nearby cities might also celebrate a postscript email from Dawson, which reads, "Down the road, we'd like to offer this website up for repurposing by other cities. Nothing would please us more than sites like GoDanville, GoConcord, GoBerkeley, or even GoSanFrancisco."