World Car Free Day, which encourages individuals to eliminate the use of their car for a day, will be celebrated on Sept. 22.
Avoiding using a car provides an opportunity to try using active transportation modes, such as biking, walking or taking the bus. Collectively, it demonstrates what our streets and air would look like without cars, congestion and polluting emissions. While going car-free may not be an option for everyone, it’s a chance to reexamine the way we move around our community.
Transportation accounts for approximately 29% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the U.S. — the largest contributor. GHG emissions in the transportation sector increased more in absolute terms than any other sector between 1990 and 2019. A majority of respondents to the med center’s 2019 Sustainability Engagement Survey drive between five and 20 miles one-way to get to work, meaning there is an opportunity for individuals at the med center to help reduce emissions.
The good news is that the med center has a great system in place to support employees who can travel to work in ways other than driving alone in a car. The TravelSmart program provides free emergency rides home, free Omaha Metro bus passes, bike/walk infrastructure such as lockers and showers and carpool matching. TravelSmart has helped the med center double its mode split (the percentage of commuters using transportation modes other than driving alone in a vehicle), from 12% in 2010 to 24% in 2019.
This year, consider trying out Omaha Metro’s new ORBT system, which runs every 10 minutes on Dodge Street. OBRT has a stop right outside Clarkson College at 42nd and Dodge streets, and TravelSmart members ride for free. The buses are equipped with WiFi and real time tracking. If you cannot use ORBT to commute, try taking it to lunch this week.
When we reduce drive-alone trips to campus, we reduce the health hazards of our community from car exhaust and often increase steps, improving cardiovascular health. If you are unable to use an alternative way of commuting to work, consider doing one errand this week by biking, walking or using transit. The environment and your health will benefit as a result.
Check out the TravelSmart website to learn more and sign up today.