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Travel Smart With These Eco Friendly Tips

 
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As we continue celebrating travel season throughout the month of May, we’re thinking about creative and earth-friendly approaches to transportation: cycling, walking, and carpooling. You’ll also find some helpful tips on how to become a more eco-friendly driver.

Changing your driving habits can help reduce greenhouse emissions:
ecotransport-5.jpgMaintain Your Vehicle - Keeping up with routine car maintenance helps reduce the amount of fuel needed for it to run properly. Regularly checking your tires and having them inflated to the appropriate weight for your vehicle saves fuel consumption by 4 to 5 percent!

Empty Your Car - Most of us have extra stuff laying around on the floorboards and in the trunk of our cars. Removing those extra pounds could dramatically decrease your car’s fuel economy. This includes removing your roof rack when you’re not using it. Roof racks create wind friction and forces vehicles to burn extra fuel.

Don’t Speed - Anticipate road conditions and drive smoothly, avoiding quick acceleration and heavy braking. This saves fuel and reduces accident rates. Also, gas mileage rapidly declines when you drive above 60 mph. For every 5 mph increase above 60, you’re paying almost 10 cents more per gallon. You can save money and decrease air pollution by keeping your speed below that magic number.

ecotransport-6.jpgDon't Idle - Did you know that the amount of gas used to turn your car off and on again is equal to the amount of fuel used in 10 seconds? Every time you leave the engine of your car running for more than 10-seconds at a time, not only are you wasting fuel and money, idling creates unnecessary pollution that directly impacts global warming. (Of course, never turn off your car while you're in traffic.)  Also, despite general knowledge to the contrary, it's best to immediately drive away when starting from cold. Idling to heat the engine wastes fuel and causes rapid engine wear.


ecotransport-2.jpgEarth-Friendly Modes of Transportation
Unless you own a hybrid or electric car, gas-powered vehicles are generally very energy inefficient. The idea behind eco transportation is that they provide opportunities for people to get around their communities using their own power, like walking or biking, or by other more environmentally-sensitive means, like buses or trains.

Give Carpooling a Try
According to national surveys, the average American spends more than 400 hours a year commuting to work, often alone. If everybody in the U.S. opted to car-share (another term for carpool) just one day a week, not only would social connectedness improve, but traffic on our nation’s roads would be reduced as much as 20%.

ecotransport-7.jpgThe benefits of car-sharing are more than environmental. In an age where we’re becoming increasingly isolated from one another as we gaze into our phone and tablet screens, car-sharing gives people the opportunity to communicate with others again, and we get to meet new people we possibly wouldn’t have met otherwise.

Sharing a ride to work, school, and while running errands, not only reduces your transportation costs and increases social cohesion, it also improves parking challenges and decreases the number of cars on the road. Fewer cars on the road means less pollution is emitted.

As two of the most popular car-sharing programs globally, Uber and Lyft, have helped usher in a new era of carpooling. Zipcar is another fantastic option. You reserve wheels when you want them, by the hour or day, and only pay for the time you use them. And unlike a car rental, there’s no waiting in line at the counter.
 

Biking, Walking, and Upcoming Eco Transportation Events
ecotransport-4.jpgIt’s encouraging to know that walking or riding your bike to work rather than driving can cut down on your household emissions by at least 6%. Here are few ideas to get you started:

In North Carolina, Share The Ride NC is a statewide ride matching system and an excellent resource for finding carpool partners, bike buddies, and transit options. Take a look at this invaluable tool HERE.

The month of May is National Bike Month and, Friday, May 19th, is Bike to Work Day. Jim, the shoe/outdoor area manager at Mast Store Waynesville, works with a WNC group to promote Strive Not to Drive Week, May 12th through 19th. The group works in Buncombe, Haywood, and Henderson Counties to explore alternative modes of transportation.  

You could win a free pair of wheels this month with Strive Not to Drive (SNTD). They’re challenging WNC citizens to a Commute Challenge now through May 31st. The Commute Challenge asks you to track your bike, walk, bus, carpool, and creative commutes throughout the month. Simply signing up enters you to win a bike from the WNC Bicycle Dealers Association. Additionally, logging a few trips will unlock free gifts from LoLo Local Gifts. Click HERE for more information.

ecotransport-3.jpgTry Car Free Fridays. Strive Not to Drive also invites you to participate in Car Free Friday whenever possible. SNTD asks the community to pledge to leave your car at home each Friday. Every little bit counts!

In South Carolina, Walk Bike Columbia and Bike Walk Greenville offer helpful information for safe transportation routes, bike share programs, maps, resources, and events.

Bike Walk TN has an ambitious goal of doubling the number of people biking and walking in Tennessee by 2020. Click HERE to find out more about their events and programs. 

If we put a bit of thought into our driving habits and incorporate other modes of transportation, we can easily become more eco-friendly drivers and help create a healthier planet. It’s a win/win.