With the first day of fall quickly approaching, that means Car Free Day is also right around the corner. Thursday, September 22, is the day when people all around the world are preparing to ditch their keys to be car-free to help reduce traffic congestion and work towards creating a greener environment. While our cars are convenient and offer a number of benefits, over 1.5 billion motor vehicles travel the streets and roads of the world today, releasing a dangerous amount of auto emissions into the atmosphere.
Since transportation is one of the biggest contributors to air pollution in the region, the Clean Air Partnership, Citizens for Modern Transit and more than half a dozen partners – who collectively provide an array of transportation options that extend beyond driving in single-occupancy vehicles along with resources and incentives for doing so – joined forces to launch a summerlong “Don’t Pollute. Switch Up Your Commute.” campaign. As summer comes to an end, area residents are still encouraged to visit SwitchUpYourCommute.com to access a wealth of information on how the ways they choose to travel impacts the quality of air we breathe, while motivating them to modify commuting behaviors as often as they can.
You’ll find there are plenty of resources available for St. Louisans to keep their vehicles off area roads on Car Free Day and beyond to help take heat off the planet and our lungs:
- Metro Transit – The region’s public transit system offers great alternatives for the work commute or an option to hopping in your car for short trips. Serving St. Louis City, St. Louis County and St. Clair County, Ill., Metro Transit allows riders to walk to a nearby stop, or park and take a train or bus, or a combination of the two, to get where they are going – safely, comfortably and conveniently. Those who live in Madison County, Ill., will find Madison County Transit to be another great alternative, as well as SCCTD for St. Clair County residents.
- Carpool/Vanpool – RideFinders is the free, St. Louis regional commuter carpool and vanpool program. By using the organization’s easy online ride-matching service, RideFinders connects area workers looking to share the ride, the driving and the cost of a smart and sustainable commute. Moreover, RideFinders provides the van, pays for gas, maintenance and insurance for a low monthly cost. Commute with Enterprise also offers a choice to those looking to share a ride with neighboring coworkers in a SUV, crossover or van. Everyone splits the costs and driving duties, saving passengers valuable time and money while doing the right thing for the community and environment.
- Walk or Bike – For individuals who live close to work, choosing to walk or bike, instead of idling in rush hour traffic, helps take cars off area roads and reduces the amount of ozone-forming emissions generated. Walking and biking can also be easily paired with transit, as all Metro Transit and MCT buses are equipped with bike racks so individuals can bring their bikes on MetroLink or park it at one of the stations’ bike racks.
- Telecommute – As traffic continues to ramp back up in the region, so does the potential for increased auto emissions that contribute to ozone formation. For those who can work from home, continuing to telecommute full-time or at least occasionally is encouraged.
For a host of additional tips on how to achieve cleaner air all year long and not just for special occasions, visit our website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @gatewaycleanair.