Greening your commute by using alternative transportation can be an effective way to save money. By bicycling, you can incorporate exercise while getting to work. By taking the bus, you can catch up on reading or write a letter to a friend. Not only do you find some needed time for yourself, you save money while doing it! Alternative transportation can be good for your body, mind, and spirit.
Greener Alternatives: Mind
There are many alternatives to going green on your commute that can help reduce your carbon footprint. Establishing a car pool, joining a car sharing program, and simply making sure that the car you drive is the most environmentally friendly one you can own are great ways to do this. These alternatives are not just practical approach to solving the energy crisis, but a philosophical one. Sharing cars, improving fuel efficiency, and purchasing carbon offsets are great ways to think globally and act locally.
Did you know that many cities now have car pools that you can join simply by going online? A car pool is a great way to reduce carbon emissions. Fewer cars on the road means less congestion, less pollution, less dependence on oil, and cleaner, fresher air to breathe. Follow our suggested web links to find a car pool near you. In the Chicagoland region, you can also use van services provided by PACE bus.
You can also join a car sharing program. Car sharing is a service that provides members with access to a fleet of eco-friendly vehicles on an hourly basis. Once you become a member, you can reserve any car you like in advance and drive it for as long as your reservation. Unlike car rental, you pay by the hour"”which means the most cost-effective trips are short in time and distance.
If you have to own your own car, buy the most fuel-efficient car possible. Hybrids typically emit the least greenhouse gases. Electric plug-in vehicles, like this fully converted Ford Mustang, are actually available in a few places and they have zero emissions.
Did you know that trains emit far less CO2 emissions than airplanes? If you are taking a longer trip, you may want to consider taking Amtrak or another commuter train as opposed to flying. If you have to fly, try purchasing carbon offsets along with the price of your ticket. A carbon offset is money that you or your company send to an organization that funds projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gasses. For information about Amtrak in your city, visit the link to Amtrak in our suggested web links. To learn more about carbon offsets, read our page called "Reducing Your Carbon Footprint." For more information about certain carbon offset companies, look at the suggested web links.
Greener Alternatives: Body
Did you know that according to the World Health Organization (WHO), physical inactivity is second only to tobacco smoking as a health risk in developed countries? The Copenhagen Heart Study, as quoted in the WHO’s paper, "A Physically Active Life Through Everyday Transport," concluded that "Even after adjustment for other risk factors, including leisure time physical activity, those who did not cycle to work experienced a 39% higher mortality rate that those who did.”
Many cities provide bike lanes on selected streets in order to improve bike transit. The City of Chicago’s Department of Transportation and the City of Austin provide online links to the map of each city’s bike routes. Visit our suggested web links to find these maps.
One way to maximize the ease and safety of your biking experience is to plan your route in advance, utilizing bike routes suggested by your municipality and/or local bike shops. The people at your local bike shop can help get you outfitted to ride to work in style. John had special handle bars put on his bike that allow him to ride more upright. This is a great modification for people with back challenges. I ride a commuter bike, which is a cross between a mountain bike and a road bike. This makes it fast enough to get to work timely and sturdy enough to withstand potholes. I also recently added a fold-up basket to the side of my bike. You can purchase them inexpensively at your local bike shop and they make shopping a breeze.
Greener Alternatives: Spirit
Taking public transportation to your destination can be a great way for you to carve time out of your day for yourself. You can read on the bus or the subway or take time to meditate on your day. In Chicago, many routes of transportation run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Many cities, including Chicago, Austin, and San Antonio, are using their federal stimulus money to fund public transportation "“ it is the wave of the future!
Small changes to your daily habits can go a long way. By biking to work one day a week, you help yourself and the environment. Green transportation can improve the environment while also improving your mind, body, and spirit "“ try it out!
Suggested web links:
The World Health Organization’s Copenhagen Heart Study
Car pools (general)
Type in your zip code to find a car pool near you (E-ride)
Capital Metro Transit
Greater San Antonio Area
Alamo Regional Transit bus service
VIA Metropolitan Transit
contributed by Natasha Ruser and John Watson | 6/4/2009, updated 3/10/2012