Neat graphic from the folks at Go Banking Rates. Their figure of 70 cents per mile is on the higher end of what AAA includes in their report, 2010 "Your Driving Costs." The Clean Air Campaign uses a more mid-range figure of 56 cents per mile for a mid-sized sedan clocking about 15K miles/year. At either level, the money we're spending on driving our cars is astonishing.
Click here for a larger version of this image.
The best savings strategy most people have yet to discover is choosing to drive less. Commuters who participate in incentive programs with The Clean Air Campaign and log their commuting activity with us can see exactly how much impact their efforts mean -- to their wallet AND the air we breathe.
As the hub for NE Georgia, Athens is a major employment, education, health and entertainment center growing in popularity and population. A steady stream of new residents and a burgeoning daytime population brings increased challenges related to demand for energy, transportation infrastructure, and increasing air quality degradation.
According to the EPD, 62% of smog-forming emissions in Athens-Clarke County come from tailpipes of cars and trucks. This represents a significant problem for our air quality, particularly with respect to ground-level ozone. Indeed, Athens-Clarke County stands on the verge of failing to meet federal air quality standards designed to protect the public's health. With tighter standards likely to come later this year, non-attainment status could lead to stricter permitting requirements in the county, more regulatory controls, depressed economic growth, and a generally negative stigma about the quality of life in Athens.
But, with stricter regulatory and volunteer actions, Athens can face this challenge head on! By working together, every local employer, commuter, and resident can make a huge difference in improving and protecting Athens' air quality. This is one of the reasons why Athens-Clarke County partnered with the Clean Air Campaign and created Travel Smart Week as a way to showcase how choosing alternatives to driving alone can help improve the air we breathe.
Thanks to an expanding network of transportation alternatives, including Athens Transit, sidewalks, and bike lanes, individuals can travel with increasingly less dependency on their cars. Everyone is encouraged to get out of their cars, enjoy the fresh air, get some exercise and Travel Smart!
Heidi Davison is the mayor of Athens-Clarke County and serves on the Northeast Georgia Regional Development Center Board. Through their use of commute options programs in the past year, Athens-Clarke County Unified Government employees have kept more than 8,000 pounds of pollution out of the air we breathe.
As an avid cyclist, I've done a lot of cycling - but not in the city. My wife and I would drive out to the Silver Comet Trail or drive 45 minutes to an hour away from Atlanta in order to find roads with less traffic where we would ride our bicycles. We usually ride fairly long distances, 30 to 50 miles, sometimes longer.
So when I went to work for the Clean Air Campaign, which is only 12.5 miles from my home, the distance wasn't an issue - but I was definitely worried about the traffic.
I talked to every Atlanta bicycle commuter I could find, and got a lot of advice, and then went for it. I scouted out routes, trying to stay away from main thoroughfares with heavy traffic. I was able to find neighborhood roads for about 7.5 of those 12.5 miles, but there was no way around it - I was going to have about 5 miles on Peachtree Road and Peachtree Street.
One of the pieces of advice I heard was to "take the lane". This means rather than staying as far to the right as possible, if the lane is too narrow for a car to safely pass you (safely means at least 3 feet between you and the car) you should ride in the center of the lane.
It might sound counterintuitive, but even the "Georgia Bike Sense" guide says to move to the left or take the center of the lane in the following situations:
- Left turns
- Avoiding hazards or debris
- The lane is too narrow to share safely with other vehicles
- Passing standing vehicles
- Moving to the left in these circumstances is legal, so keep in mind that staying to the right is not always required and not always the safest place to be."
I ride Peachtree Road/Street from Peachtree Battle to Woodruff Park. In that stretch there are always 2 or 3 lanes. So when I turn on to Peachtree Road, I get in the center of the right lane. In most cases, cars and trucks have plenty of room to move over. Sometimes they get stuck behind me, but I have never had an unpleasant encounter because of that. In fact the only close encounter I've had at all was when I was lax about staying in the center of the lane, and someone thought they could squeeze by me; they went by with a one foot clearance, and that was too close for comfort.
The other important piece of advice I have for bike commuting is to get a rear view mirror. There are several different types; some mount on the handlebar, some mount on your helmet, some even mount on your glasses. I always ride with eye protection, so I went for the mirror on the glasses type. Being aware of traffic to the rear has made the biggest difference for me in terms of safety and peace of mind.
And on the days when I just don't feel like riding that 5 miles on Peachtree, there's always MARTA. The station is only 3 miles from my home, which takes me about 15 minutes on the bike.
Still not sure? Take the "Confident City Cycling" course offered by the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition.
If you've been thinking about bike commuting, Bike To Work Week is the perfect time to just do it. Once I tried it, I found it's a lot easier than I thought it would be.
See you on the road!
The first time I rode my bike to work, I was terrified. Traffic was fast and frequent on Cascade Road and I hugged the curb as if my life depended on it, which I thought at the time it did. That was after a few weeks of biking to the MARTA station on the sidewalk, and being amazed at how slowly I had to travel. Switching to the street made my commute that much faster, and as I later learned, that much safer.
After 3 weeks (or 21 days, the length of time experts recommend to really latch on to a new habit), I took a deep breath, relaxed, and started the long journey towards truly enjoying my commute.
I discovered I felt more confident, less out of breath, and more like a biker. A biker! Out of shape, non gym-member me! It was a great feeling. I felt empowered by having arrived at my destination powered by nothing more than my own legs, which were growing stronger by the day. Thus I embarked on my low-car diet. In a fortunate coincidence, I was able to lose 15 pounds before my wedding.
I started biking to work four years ago when I was working for a foundation in southwest Atlanta. I rode 2.5 miles one way to the office, arriving sweaty, breathless, and at peace. My coworkers marveled at my dedication, but for me, it just made sense. Those 2.5 miles would have taken me 50 minutes to traverse by bus and train and bus again, and we were a one-car couple, so I didn’t think it fair to drive the car myself every day when my fiance might have needed it.
Eventually, once my now-husband and I both started biking to work, we wised up and took a class with the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition. A few short months later, I took over as the new executive director and had the privilege of sharing what I had learned with others.
Bike to Work Day is Friday, May 21. While thousands of Atlantans bike to work everyday, including the staff here at the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, Friday is a great opportunity for people who usually get to work by some other method to dust off their bike and give it a go!
ABC and our partners are providing Energizer Stations around town where bike users can fuel up for free with refreshments and giveaways. Experienced cyclists will lead Bike Trains that anyone can hop on in order to ride with others and make their commute safer and more social. And everyone who registers for Bike to Work Day (or to ride other days during that week) will be entered to win prizes including $20 gift cards from Sidebar and a surprise item from REI.
Then there’s the thrill of arriving at work, energized and engaged, ready to start the day knowing you took a step to make the air we breathe a little cleaner.
Rebecca Serna is the Executive Director of the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, metro Atlanta’s voice for better biking. ABC’s mission is to make it safer and easier for people to ride bicycles to create a healthier, more sustainable region. ABC promotes bicycling to improve public health, clean the air, reduce congestion, and build community. Rebecca is a daily bike commuter – she and her husband blog about going car-free at carfreeatlantafamily.wordpress.com.
MARTA's Five Points station was the site of a rally Tuesday evening that brought together union officials, MARTA leadership, patrons and even the Rev. Jesse Jackson to raise awareness of the funding constraints that exist between maintaining existing operations and expanding service.
Against a backdrop of transit union workers donning t-shirts that read "Save Our Ride" -- and some wearing dust masks to decry the region's air quality issues, which would become worse without transit -- speakers made the case for greater control over transit dollars.
Facing reductions in service that could begin as soon as July 1 because of funding shortfalls, MARTA is asking for more flexibility in how it spends its money.
"It makes no sense," said Warren George, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, about the funding requirements. "It makes no sense to take a bus off the road and put 40 cars on the road."
"Public transit protects our environment," echoed Harry Lombardo, executive vice president of the Transit Workers Union of America. "A train or bus is the cleanest, greenest way to get from Point A to Point B."
Jesse Jackson offered up a good analogy: Atlanta has five major arteries (Cobb, Clayton, Dekalb, Fulton, Gwinnett). MARTA is the heart of metro ATL transit, but only two of the arteries have been working (Dekalb, Fulton), referring to the penny sales tax in those counties that subsidizes MARTA.
A grassroots virtual petition supporting transit nationwide, "Save Our Ride,"offers MARTA patrons a way to express their support for transit.
Think earning cash and winning prizes for choosing to carpool, vanpool, ride transit, telework, bicycle and walk to work is great? Well, now we have even more in store for you! Start clean commuting this summer, and you could:
- MINImize your impact on the air we breathe for the chance to win a 2010 Mini Cooper
- win a clean air cruise for two to Alaska
- get up to $1,000 in free gas when you use alternatives to driving alone
- score great seats for an Atlanta Braves game
- join Clark Howard in giving your car the day off to save money on commute costs
- win a year of free car washes
- rock out to a hit artist at the Clean Air Concert
If you’re already using alternatives to driving alone, consider this a big “thanks” for all that you do to help keep the air we breathe clean! If you haven’t started yet, there are even more reasons now to make the switch to a cleaner commute.
Visit the “Other Contests and Promotions” page to get the scoop on our latest contests and prizes. Tell your friends about it, and check back throughout the summer for updated contest information.
We're one week into the official beginning of smog season across Georgia, and the 2010 version - so far - reads nothing like that of 2009.
By all accounts, the state had a mild smog season last year, aided by slightly cooler temperatures and more rainfall. The first Code Orange smog day of 2009 didn't arrive in metro Atlanta until June 1. This year, we've come out of the gate with several Code Orange days for ground-level ozone, not just in ATL but around the state:
Date of Exceedance
And today is likely to mark a trifecta of dirty, brown air pollution nobody in the Atlanta region wants to see ... or breathe in. Data show we're experiencing a slightly warmer start to May than we did last year. And WSB meteorologist David Chandley points out in a quote from today's AJC that the Code Orange forecast for today is on the milder end of the spectrum. But this string of bad air days reinforces the need for Georgia employers, commuter and schools to focus on two things:
Learn more about both, plus get some background on air quality issues in The Clean Air Campaign's debut podcast. Chime in and let us know what you think of it. And let us know what you're doing to beat back smog in Georgia.
The Clean Air Campaign recently partnered with Local Planet Atlanta, a website that connects Atlanta neighbors with Atlanta businesses that do “good” for the community and the environment. Each day Local Planet will highlight a new socially or environmentally responsible business in Atlanta, complete with a special offer just for Local Planet fans, friends and followers.
To celebrate the launch of Local Planet Atlanta, they’re donating $.25 to the non-profit organization of your choice (including us) for each person that signs up to receive their daily e-mail between now and launch. We need your support, and Atlanta needs your support. Visit www.localplanet.com and be sure to select The Clean Air Campaign when you join.
You already shop in Atlanta. Why not save some change, and make some change at the same time?