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Happy National Transportation Week!  According to US Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, 2012 marks the golden anniversary of an event that is rooted in education about the importance of our national transportation network.  And on a local level, the signs of new thinking on transportation are everywhere.  This week brought the launch of the “flex-lane” driving experience on the shoulder of Georgia 400.  A new airport terminal opened its doors to the world.  And The Clean Air Campaign typed up this blog entry for your enlightenment.  Some might call this an epic week.

Wireside Chats: Dial In for Details on Transportation Referendum Projects

Media attention continues to build in anticipation of the July 31 regional transportation referendum that will allow voters to choose whether to use a penny sales tax collected over ten years to fund $8.5 billion in transportation improvements across the 10-county metro Atlanta region and parallel improvement projects at differing levels of investment drawn up in 11 other regions of the state.  In a recent conversation with officials representing the Transform Metro Atlanta campaign, their hope is that news outlets and citizens will begin to dive deeper into the specific projects that the referendum would fund.  During six evenings in June, the Atlanta Regional Commission will host a series of 12 Wireside Chat events, which are hour-long interactive phone conversations centered around a detailed map of proposed projects. Local officials will provide a brief overview of the July 31 referendum and answer questions about the project list that goes with the referendum. Worth a few minutes to be part of this conversation to see what might get built near your home or workplace.  Register at www.wiresidechats.com.

Lane ends 2,000 feet.

Halfway There: The Potential of “Park to Pedal”

May is National Bike Month.  In its role as an invitation to drivers to try bicycle commuting, the message is well-received by a growing number of people in the metro Atlanta region.  But the barrier for most remains high, given that the average metro Atlanta commute is 17.5 miles each way.  Still, this recent article in the Huffington Post outlines an idea that might work for more of us.  What if we drove partway to our work destination, parked the car, pulled the bike out of the trunk and then pedaled the rest of the way in?  In a climate of crazy gas prices and less free time to work out, this might become a worthwhile strategy to test out.  Could you do it?     

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Costly Commuting: Driving Costs Per Mile Edge Upward

The American Automobile Association recently released its annual “Your Driving Costs” study, which examines the cost per mile to own, operate and maintain a vehicle.  According to AAA, this study has been performed annually since 1950, when the cost per mile was a whopping nine cents.  Fast forward 62 years and the cost per mile has risen to 59.6 cents per mile.  That’s up about three cents from a year ago due to higher costs for resources like gasoline and rubber to make tires, as well as higher insurance premiums and taxes.  The Clean Air Campaign uses a lower number that excludes ownership costs to illustrate the savings commuters can realize when they drive less.  Take our updated commute calculator for a spin and see what you could put back into your piggy bank.

Lane ends 500 feet.

Air Aware: 15 Metro Atlanta Counties Not Meeting Latest Ground-Level Ozone Standard

The US Environmental Protection Agency recently issued final designations for areas that have been found to be out of compliance with standards for ground-level ozone.  When the 2008 standard was implemented, the measuring stick got shorter.  So, too, did the list of counties not meeting the standard.  That’s an encouraging sign of progress, as regulatory and voluntary actions in Georgia continue to work harmoniously to improve air quality.  But with long-term growth projections and increasing energy demands, there is more work to be done.  

Merge.



Truly there is never a dull moment on the roads.  And now commuters in the Woodstock area can add another crazy challenge to the traffic congestion that befalls area roads: a wild turkey disrupting commute trips.

Wild Turkey Makes Home in Woodstock: MyFoxATLANTA.com

Doesn't this bird know what happens next week?  

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, The Clean Air Campaign offers this money savings tip: carpooling just a few times can free up enough money on gas and car expenses to help the typical Georgia commuter buy a delicious turkey. 

We're looking at you, Tom.



As we head deeper into autumn, the landscape is treating us to a spectacular parade of orange, yellow and red hues.  Yes, turn signals and brake lights at rush hour are indeed a sight to behold.  But it’s more fun to wax poetic about the fall leaves.  So, frolic in the foliage and rake in this latest edition of Merging Lanes.

Smog-Eating Concrete

In the future green economy of America, the streets won’t be paved with gold.  They’ll be paved with titanium dioxide.  Demonstrating that innovation knows no boundaries in the shared space between transportation and air quality, engineers in Missouri recently laid down a 1,500-foot strip of asphalt that can break down ground-level ozone pollution.  Mixed into this special blend of concrete is a titanium dioxide additive that creates a photo-catalytic reaction, absorbing smog, using sunlight to break it down, and releasing it as nitrogen and carbon dioxide.  Neat.

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The Morning Ritual That’s Ruining Your Car’s Engine

With the chill of autumn comes those frosty mornings that all commuters must endure.  But there’s one driveway ritual that Georgia commuters should stop practicing because it can ruin a car’s performance.  Warming up the engine in the mornings by allowing it to idle can actually wear down engine parts and create more air pollution.  The practice of unnecessary idling on cold mornings can produce up to six grams of carbon monoxide per minute.  That’s equal to the carbon monoxide content from three packs of cigarettes.  Turns out, it’s also an easy way to get your car stolen.  Simply put, the best way to warm up your engine and create less air pollution on your morning commute is to drive your vehicle instead of idling.

Lane ends 1,000 feet.

Where the Germs Are

If you need extra motivation to drive less, look no further.  From the Yuck Department, a new study found that gas pump handles may be among the dirtiest surfaces that we touch.  A team of hygienists conducted tests in six cities – including Atlanta – and determined that gas pump and mailbox handles, escalator rails and ATM buttons were more likely to harbor high concentrations of germs that can lead to illness.  In all, 71% of gas pump handles tested had high contamination levels.  Gross!

Lane ends 500 feet.

Families Trapped in Vehicles
The headline of a recent article in Time magazine points out the depth of America’s car culture: “We Pay More to Drive Than We Spend on Taxes.”  Citing a new study conducted by a Washington, D.C. think tank, the article describes how difficult it is for the average American family to scale back on driving costs, even in the face of higher energy prices that influence everything from the cost of a gallon of gasoline to a gallon of milk.  Over the past decade, The Clean Air Campaign and its partners have helped more than 85,000 Georgia commuters get relief from the high cost of commuting through a combination of financial incentives and support programs.  We’re ready to help more people make their dollars go further by using commute options.

Merge.



With the cunning stealth of a swamp crocodile, gas prices throughout Georgia have crept back above the $3 mark and pounced on Georgia commuters. It's been a long, quiet ascent - which is perhaps why commuters have continued to tolerate the bite from this increase, unlike the wild ride in 2008 that brought about less driving. Are we headed for a repeat of those volatile times?


The distant speculation about paying $5 a gallon for gas in the future has received lots of attention after a former oil executive offered his dire prediction for 2012. Maybe this is what the Mayans were all worked up about with regard to 2012. But The Atlantic this week published a good reminder that tomorrow can wait. Today's "gas pains" are uncomfortable enough as it is, especially in Atlanta.


As more commuters sharpen their pencils and work to wrangle household budgeting for present times, The Atlantic suggests that policymakers jump in and do more to alleviate the burden of rising fuel prices by encouraging telework, ridesharing and tax relief for employers who get behind commute options programs.


Good news, folks. Georgia already has the infrastructure in place to do this and more. The Clean Air Campaign and its partners have been in front of this issue for more than a decade now, working with more than 1,600 employers and tens of thousands of commuters across the state. These groups knew where to turn for fiscal relief when the petrol pandemonium of 2008 jumped up and grabbed them, as evidenced by the 100% uptick in program participation by employers and the threefold increase in commuter incentives participants. So bring it on, volatile gas prices. We're still here ... and in 2011, we're ready to help Georgians in even more ways.



With the opening of the A-Team movie, summer blockbuster film season is well underway. Adapted from the 80s TV series, it's the story of four crime-fighting vigilantes ... who ride to "work" in their van.

Admit it. Riding to work in this macho van would be a thrill. Courtesy: jspek.com

Anyhow, it got The Clean Air Campaign thinking about other famous vanpools. Of course, Scooby Doo and the vaunted Mystery Machine comes to mind.

Wouldn't your commute to work be groovier if this was your ride? Courtesy: hollywoodmoviecostumesandprops.blogspot.com

And in Little Miss Sunshine, a van shuttles the protagonist to the beauty pageant. Got any other famous vanpools to share? Post your faves on this blog, or hit us on Facebook.

What was it about vanpooling that worked for these stars? Maybe the A-Team did it for the sake of productivity. It's certainly easier for a plan to come together about stopping the bad guys when your team can collaborate on the road. And the Scooby Doo cast probably saves a lot of money, too, by riding to crime scenes together instead of driving separately (and if Shaggy signed up for Commuter Rewards with The Clean Air Campaign, he could be eligible to win $25 monthly prizes). Of course, the camaraderie of vanpooling cannot be undersold either.

Bottom line: these celebrities are making it work with vanpooling, so if it works for them it might work for you, too.

For employers - The Clean Air Campaign has developed a special program to help Georgia employers make vanpooling available to select groups of employees who live near each other and commute in to the same destination. Ask us about how we can help bring this concept to your worksite -- at no cost.

For commuters - Watch this brief video to learn three reasons why vanpooling makes sense for a growing number of Georgia commuters.



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.



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