We often get asked why alternative-fuel or super-high-efficiency vehicles are not included as part of the Clean Commute Challenge, so we wanted to take some time to address that question here.
Driving an alternative-fuel vehicle, such as a hybrid-electric or fully-electric car, or a super efficient vehicle like a motor scooter or even motorcycle, can have very positive effects on the environment. Particularly for folks who want to have a positive impact on greenhouse gas emissions, these vehicles are excellent ways to cut your fuel consumption and the amount of GHG-related emissions that come from your tailpipe – often significantly!
As a transportation demand management agency, RIDE Solutions is committed to addressing all the ways that our transportation network affects our lives and communities. Air quality and climate change is certainly one way, but we also are concerned about traffic congestion, mobility and workforce access, travel time, water quality, and the local economy. Mode choice – how people choose or are able to choose how they get around – affects all of these things. You might be surprised to learn, for example:
- The average American spends two weeks a year stuck in traffic due to congestion.
- In some areas of the country, pollution from water runoff from roads and parking lots is the equivalent of an Exxon Valdez oil spill every two years.
- 90% of what we pay for gas leaves the local economy, and 50% of that leaves the US altogether.
- 1/3 of Americans are considered obese, and cite lack of safe walking and biking facilities as a contributing factor in their obesity.
These are just some of the impacts of transportation demand, but all of them can be addressed through the simple act of getting cars off the road and getting commuter onto another mode. That is RIDE Solutions’ focus, and where we think we can have the greatest impact on the health and viability of our neighborhoods.
Further, the goal of the Clean Commute Challenge is to encourage people to try a mode they haven’t tried before, but which they probably have access to. Anyone can join a carpool. Most folks can probably walk or bike for one of their trips during the month. Many people have access to transit. However, most people don’t have the option of obtaining an electric vehicle or other high-efficiency vehicle just for the month. We feel it’s important to encourage people to make a change during the Challenge.
Therefore, while we definitely support electric cars and similar vehicles as a way to further limit your environmental footprint if you must drive, our focus is all the transportation options that don’t involve driving, or involve driving less. That’s why we don’t include these types of vehicles in the Challenge, and while we think they’re great, we really hope drivers of electric cars take the next step and offer to start driving for a carpool!