Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Life Beyond the Car: Transportation Alternatives

While some of the alternative modes of transportation I'll be listing below may seem very obvious to most, they're still important to mention. Sometimes the easiest answer gets hidden in the complexity that surrounds it.

A little known fact about New York City is that on average, a New Yorker's carbon footprint is 30% smaller than that of the average American. One of the reasons is public transportation. While most Philadelphians bemoan the thought of riding SEPTA to work, it is a great alternative. According to PA's Clean Air Council, who is working in tandem with SEPTA, public transportation produces 95% less carbon monoxide per passenger mile than a private car. SEPTA also plans to have an additional 400 hybrid electric-diesel buses added to their existing fleet of 32 by 2011. Now if they can only keep them running on time...

If the thought of sitting next to crazy passengers and experiencing smells you never knew could be produced by humans isn't for you, than consider carpooling. There are plenty of benefits to doing so. While the cut on carbon emissions is smaller than if you took PT, it's still an important percentage. It also halves the amount of gas being consumed by the participants. Economically, it's also more efficient. With oil prices soaring, two to three people in a car splitting gas costs is a major relief for your wallet. For more great ideas, check out the carpooling page on the Green Living Tips website.

For a city dweller who doesn't really need to drive, try buying a bike! Philadelphia's public transportation isn't always the most accessible, especially if you live in the Art Museum District or certain areas of South Philly. A bicycle has the additional benefit of being good for you, it being a great cardiac workout and all. Find a used one on Craig's List, or if you're between 8 and 17, you can earn one by becoming a bike expert at West Philly's Neighborhood Bike Works. Just be sure to wear a helmet. Philly drivers aren't the greatest.

And of course, walking is always an option. Just remember that if you walk to the store, take a reusable bag with you - say no to plastic!

Also, if any of you readers want to share your ideas for alternative transport, please post them in our comments section!

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