Sustainable transportation improves your daily life, the air quality in your neighborhood, and the affordability of your commute. Thankfully, when considering greening your daily commute to work or school, you have lots of options—many of which are fun and collaborative.
The Biking Challenge
The bike you have in your garage (along with your helmet, of course) that’s for family bike rides is all you need to get started. Biking only uses human energy in calories and produces zero pollution, making it the ideal sustainable transportation.
Bike Cleveland, a nonprofit providing bike education in my area, has posed an easy biking challenge. The nonprofit challenges you to bike somewhere that would take five minutes to drive. More than likely, it will be at least a ten-minute bike ride and you’ll snatch up better parking. It’s best to choose a place that you’ve been before and you know has bike racks. Be sure to bring a lock! You can also rent bikes in some cities.
Once you get the hang of it, check out the Google Maps biking option to find cycle routes on less busy streets. And do still use the streets properly, since you’re just a driver without a car. Even though May is a great time to start biking to work since it’s National Bike Month, you can still bike in the winter if you can stand the cold. Organize a “bike to work” challenge in your office to see who can log the most miles.
Take Mass Transit
Many major cities have some sort of busing or subway system, whether it be through a local regional transit authority, a university, or otherwise. Mass transit moves lots of people at once, using less fuel and causing less pollution. It can also give you extra time to read your book or even get some work done.
Sometimes taking mass transit is intimidating, especially if you’re trying to get to work on time. The best way to do it the first time is to take a buddy who has navigated through your local mass transit system before. She can show you the ropes. Make this first outing an event; take transit to a concert or museum, not during the rush hour to work. After you’ve figured out where to pay and which route you need, take the plunge and go in the morning. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get it right the first time, and don’t sell your car! Mass transit can be a once-a-week commitment and still make a big impact on your carbon footprint.
Having a driving buddy is another great sustainable form of transportation. Ride sharing, or carpooling, is as easy as finding a coworker that lives nearby or as complicated as using a ride matchmaker such as ShareTheRide. By just carpooling with one person, you’re cutting your greenhouse gas emissions by half. Plus, many employers give discounts to carpoolers (think less congested parking lots). In large cities, you’ll also have the advantage and incentive of that nearly empty, fast-paced high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane.
When you do find yourself alone in a car, make the most of it. You can make single passenger driving an eco-friendly transportation by stretching how far your gallon of gas goes. Here are a few quick tips:
- Accelerate and decelerate slowly. This habit uses less fuel.
- Not being in a hurry will help you feel less rushed and be less prone to change lanes and pass other cars.
- Pull forward into parking spots so you just pull out when leaving, instead of backing up and then forward.
- Take your foot off the gas on the downhill.
Do you have other green commuting tips? How does your family define sustainable transportation? Let us know on Twitter.
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.