Monday, May 23, 2011

Cut out Driving, One Trip at a Time

Do not let the title dissuade you! I am not going to tell you to get out of your car and walk everywhere in this post. I am, however, going to suggest some easy ways to cut down on driving. Though not directly related to local food, getting out of cars and walking or biking reduces our carbon footprints, strengthens communities by raising awareness of our surroundings and improve our health.

As we all know, gas prices have been creeping up steadily due to the unrest in the Middle East and with Summer coming, we can only expect the price of travel to increase. Fortunately, with warmer weather comes the opportunity to walk and bike places and cut out car trips each day.

As Americans, we are very attached to our cars and the independence they bring us but as everyone knows, cars are expensive to maintain and fuel and cause several types of pollution. Luckily, like most cities, Charlotte has many alternatives to driving. Below are just some options I know of from working for the City of Charlotte. If you know of others, make sure to mention them in the comments!
  • Bicycling: Charlotte is greatly expanding its greenways and bike paths. Thanks to numerous municipal bonds passed in recent years, these paths are only going to grow in coming years. In addition, new zoning ordinances require more roads to have bike lanes and to be more bike-friendly.
  • Light rail: Charlotte has a unique rail service that goes from the very southern tip of the City straight into Uptown. For $1.50/ride, you can get to many great cultural centers and locations, not to mention your job if you live in southern neighborhoods. 
  • CATS carpool: Another great way to get to and from work, the Charlotte Area Transit System organizes car and vanpools for residents going to and from Uptown.
  • CATS bus routes: There’s always old faithful: the bus. With 70 routes, CATS transports more than 22 million people each year.
Don’t live in Charlotte? Don’t worry! Most cities have numerous transportation options. These options may not be the easiest or fastest way to get work, but you can save up to $300 per month on gas and vehicle maintenance not mention cut down your carbon footprint by getting out of your car!

Bonus: Here is a really neat blog about going carless in Charlotte including a link to determine the walkability of your home, wherever you live!

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