Car-Free Fridays

Thursday, May 30, 2013

People all over the state (and indeed, all over the country) celebrated Bike to Work day on Friday, May 17th. Pittsburgh, however, has decided to take things a step further by kicking off a summer-long "Car-Free Fridays" initiative.

All summer long, Pittsburgh communities will be encouraged to take public transit, to bike, or to car-pool every single Friday. This initiative goes hand-in-hand with recently-approved plans for a new bike trail.

While car-free Fridays aren't an option for everyone, they're certainly a good trend that's well worth adopting in any city or state. If you'd like to try it, there's no time like the present. Take a moment to figure out which car-free option might work best for you as early as tomorrow.

For example, you could find out how far away the nearest bus line is and when you'd have to leave to get to work on time. You could take a moment to locate some bike trails that are between you and your workplace. Or you could contact a coworker to try to schedule a car pool.

Your efforts will add up. Even driving one less day every week will make a big difference to Idaho, both in terms of reducing emissions and in terms of reducing the amount of traffic that's on the road.

You might even find out you like it, perhaps enough to do it other days as well. It's certainly worth trying, especially on days when the weather is warm and nice.

Bring plenty of water and small, portable foods like granola bars if you intend to bike to work. This can make a huge difference in whether or not you are successful.

If you're feeling a little unsure of yourself you can check out these beginner tips from CommuteByBike.com.

Who knows? Car-free Fridays could just become the key to meeting your summer weight-loss goals. You could meet someone new. You could get more relaxed. You could learn to love a great new lifestyle.

It's certainly worth a try! Get started on i-way.org to figure out what your options are.

You Can Be Car Free

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

More and more Americans are coming to understand that a car-free lifestyle isn't just possible. It may also be a desirable way to live.

For example, this post from Iowa's Des Moines Register tells the story of 32 year old Adam Hammes, manager of sustainability at Kum and Go. Hammes, though quite successful, has chosen to live a car-free lifestyle, describing it as "a stress-free way for me to travel."

Hammes is one of many who has abandoned the car as a status symbol, and who has chosen to focus on the benefits of doing without. One of those benefits is his ability to put more money in his own pocket.

"Hammes estimates he saves more than $304 a month living without a car--money that would otherwise have gone to pay for parking tickets, oil checks, insurance, and gas, expenses that counterbalance the ease owning a car affords."

Hammes also described getting to avoid the winter morning routine of scraping ice and snow off of the car. He doesn't miss the traffic, either.

Admittedly, there are still plenty of places here in Idaho where car-free living just would not be an option. Creating the option to embrace such a lifestyle would rely on the ability to run a broad mix of transportation options throughout the state. 

We'd also need to offer mass transit options that arrive and leave at regular intervals (between 10 to 20 minutes each day). We'd need additional bike lanes. We'd need continual education on the feasibility and benefits of a car-free or car-light lifestyle.

We would also have to vastly improve the public transportation service area grid. We'd have to include more streets and offer services to more people.

Supporting these efforts means that someday you could be $300 to $800 richer every month. You could sip lattes on a heated bus while letting someone else worry about traffic and road conditions. 

If public transit is given the resources to do this just right, taking on such a lifestyle wouldn't even inconvenience you.

As Hammes demonstrates, it's a dream worth fighting for.