Transportation

&

Commuting

the

Eco-Friendly

Way

Bike, Don’t Drive Carpooling to Work or School Buying a Fuel-Efficient Vehicle (FEV) Using Public Transportation Walk, Don’t Drive

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TRANSPORTATION

We Americans love our vehicles, and we are willing to pay just about any price for gas and maintenance.

Whether going to work, running errands, or visiting friends, it’s natural to hop into the car or truck and merrily head down the road. However, like most decisions in life, in addition to the financial costs of vehicle ownership, there is an environmental price to pay as well.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 34% of all the driving trips we make are less than one- half mile. An additional 34% only go between one-half and two miles. Many are made with only one person in the car—the driver. Consider this: most people can walk a half-mile in under ten minutes, and do it in even less time on a bicycle. These activities also offer the benefit of improving health.

As fuel efficiency in vehicles has improved over the past decades, gas consumption and attendance pollution have decreased. However, our cars and trucks are still having a significant impact on the environment. The damage includes air pollution, contaminated groundwater from spilled fluids, acid rain, increased global warming, and more. That does not even take into consideration the frustration of sitting in traffic jams, while breathing in carbon dioxide emissions.

As a general rule, we should walk or ride a bicycle whenever feasible. Ideally, employers will encourage such practices by creating secure space for locking up bicycles and walkways that make it easy to get to the building. Other eco-friendly practices include car pooling or taking public transportation.

In this section, we discuss environmentally friendly choices related to transportation. Once again, being eco- friendly requires making good decisions every step of the way.

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Bike,

Don’t Drive

What is it?

Bicycling is recreational and reduces your carbon footprint. Bike-sharing programs, in which people rent a bike to run errands or sightsee, are becoming more common in urban neighborhoods. Since 40% of trips in the United States are less than two miles long, why not leave the car in the garage and hop on the bike?

Why do it?

Pros:

Reduces driving emissions

Biking has been linked to reduced rates of diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and a 50% reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease

Allows you to commune with nature

You save money on gas, parking, or vehicle maintenance

Bike-friendly communities improve the local economy by attracting visitors who increase revenue

Cons:

Impractical for long trips or shopping

It can be dangerous for cyclists to share the road with cars

You may need a place to freshen up once you arrive at your destination

It’s difficult to ride in bad weather

Maintenance:

For most riders, a seasonal tune-up and regular tire inflation are all that’s required.

Timeline:

None.

Steps:

if you plan to ride mainly on paved roads, because these bikes have handlebar and seat configurations that allow the cyclist to sit upright, increasing his/her peripheral vision. A local cycle shop can help find the best option, although secondhand bikes are less expensive.

2.Research if there are any bike paths in the area.

3.Determine bike-friendly routes to frequent destinations.

4.Always wear a helmet. Equip the bike with front and rear lights for safety, and a lock for security.

1.Determine the right bike. Bicycles come in many styles and prices. For instance, hybrid or commuter-style bikes are suitable

Cost Estimator:

A new bike costs from $300 to several thousand dollars. Used bikes in good condition are $150 and up. Helmets range from $20-$100, and bike lights run less than $20.

Accessories in varying price ranges are available to allow for a cargo basket, trailer, or child carrier.

Quick Tips:

✓✓Know and obey all applicable traffic laws. Bicycles can be just as dangerous as cars if they do not obey traffic signals and the law.

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Carpooling to Work or School

What is it?

The purpose of a carpool is to share a ride to common destinations with people who live near you. Many colleges and universities have carpooling programs or offer discounted parking to carpoolers. Generally, carpool members trade off driving responsibilities from week to week, so one individual’s vehicle does not take all the wear and tear. To encourage ridesharing, some cities also have services to help match people with others who live and work near them. Carpooling also allows access to HOV lanes, which could make commuting faster.

Why do it?

Pros:

Reduces carbon emissions from driving

Fewer cars on the road means less congestion

Use HOV lanes for faster commuting

Reduced gas and maintenance costs

Some local governments, schools, and workplaces offer financial incentives to carpoolers

Cons:

Sharing a ride with strangers may be awkward

Carpool members must be advised of vacations or business trips ahead of time

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Maintenance:

Normal, but less frequent, car maintenance.

Timeline:

None.

Steps:

1.Find people to carpool with. If possible, coordinate with people from the office or neighborhood, or take advantage of carpool organization services. If working at a larger company, talk to the HR representative about organizing a carpooling program for people from the office.

2.Work out a schedule of who will drive, how often you will trade off, and the pick-up and drop-off times.

3.Make sure everyone knows the locations of the pick-up and drop-off points.

Cost Estimator:

1/3 to 1 normal gas and maintenance costs.

Quick Tips:

✓✓Work out how gas and parking costs will be shared. If drivers trade off week to week, it’s easier to have the person who is driving fill up the tank and pay for parking during their week.

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Using

Public

Transportation

What is it?

Public transportation includes buses, shuttles, trains, and ferries that carry many people along specified routes. These options are more sustainable than individual cars, as less energy is used per passenger. Many public transportation options run on natural gas or other cleaner-burning fuels, reducing their emissions. They vary by city and region, and are generally more robust in denser areas, like major cities. Many metropolitan areas are introducing suburb-to-city shuttles that run during peak commuting times, and these vehicles can often use designated HOV lanes to reduce travel times.

Why do it?

Pros:

Fewer emissions from driving

Uses cleaner-burning fuels

Often less expensive than buying gas

Reduces need for parking

Saves on car ownership and maintenance costs

You can use commuting time to read, make phone calls, or listen to music

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Maintenance:

Transit passes can be purchased for a set number of trips or unlimited trips during a fixed period. You may need to purchase them daily, weekly, monthly, or annually.

Timeline:

The purchase or use of transit passes may be as frequently as every day or as seldom as every year.

Steps:

Cons:

Scheduled routes may not be convenient

You may need to walk to/from bus stops

Inconvenient when carrying a lot (groceries, school projects)

1.Determine what options exist in the area, and what routes and services connect to your frequent destinations.

2.Obtain a monthly pass or ride card to make riding easier.

Cost Estimator:

Membership costs depend on the area and the type of transportation. Bus or rail fare ranges from $1.50-$4.00 per ride, and up to $100 for packages.

Quick Tips:

✓✓Keep a bus or rail schedule handy for easy reference. Many systems also have smartphone apps that allow users to track transit schedules.

Take advantage of transit pass packages (for a few days, weeks, or a year) at discounted rates. There are also discounts for senior citizens, the disabled, students, police officers, firefighters, and military personnel.

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Buying

an FEV

What is it?

Fuel-efficient vehicles (FEVs) include all-electric cars, those modified to run on biofuels, and hybrids or fuel- efficient cars that require less gasoline to operate. As efficient cars are becoming more affordable, almost all manufacturers offer hybrid or electric models. There are also tax incentives for FEVs, although federal credits for non-plug-in hybrids expired in 2010.

Why do it?

Pros:

Reduces carbon emissions from driving

Saves money on gas

Tax incentives, depending on area and type of vehicle

In some states, FEVs can use carpool and HOV lanes to bypass traffic

Cons:

FEVs are more expensive

May be difficult to find charging stations for electric-only vehicles when travelling

Maintenance:

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Timeline:

None.

Steps:

1.Decide on an FEV. A hybrid car is best for those who travel often or have long daily commutes, as these cars receive up to

60mpg, and can be refueled at any gas station. Electric-only vehicles generally have a range of about 100 miles, so if you take short trips and can charge the vehicle every night, this is a suitable option.

2.Check to see what tax incentives are available in the area. Federal incentives are still active for plug-in hybrids and all- electric vehicles (up to $7,500), and some states offer additional incentives.

Normal car maintenance.