Ditch the Keys, Reap the Rewards: Alternative Transportation
After months of remote work, many of us are finally settling back into our office routines. Since last spring, we’ve longed for the fast-paced environment, comradery of our colleagues, and local eats just down the street. But there’s one thing we didn’t miss: our daily commutes.
Studies show the average American spends 18 days driving annually. That adds up to nearly eight and a half hours in our cars each week. Couldn’t that time be better, or more enjoyably, spent?
Every summer, Metroplan holds Ozone Action Days to encourage us to use alternative modes of transportation to reduce harmful ground-level ozone in our region. But the rewards of the public awareness campaign extend well beyond that, too. When we ditch our car keys, we reap long-term rewards, including:
Better health: Forget our monthly gym memberships. When we regularly walk or bike to work, we improve our overall fitness. These cardiovascular activities help us maintain a healthy weight, enhance our muscle tone, lower our blood pressure and reduce the risk of severe illnesses, such as heart disease and diabetes. Walking and biking also releases endorphins, which boosts our long-term mental health.
Significant cost savings: Owning a car isn’t cheap. According to the AAA, it can cost anywhere from $7,515 for a small sedan to $11,308 for a pickup truck when you take into account the annual fuel, maintenance, and deprecation costs. By opting to bike, walk, carpool or take the bus to work, even just once or twice a week, we can save hundreds each year.
Local vibrancy: As reports indicate, biking and walking options are often high on residents’ wish lists. And it’s no wonder. These activities help build stronger communities. They allow us to conveniently stop by retail shops, frequent restaurants, connect with neighbors and take advantage of local amenities.
Cleaner air: Using alternate modes of transportation helps minimize ground-level ozone, created when pollutants like vehicle exhaust mix with sunlight. Breathing this type of ozone can cause detrimental health impacts, from chest pain to congestion, particularly among vulnerable populations.
With the rising temperatures, it can be easy to fall back into our old habit of hopping in the car and blasting the air conditioning. But we shouldn’t settle for the daily slog. Instead, let’s bike, walk, carpool, or take the bus to work. Our bodies, wallets and communities will thank us.
La’Kesha Stewart oversees public outreach for Metroplan, an association of local governments that serves as a regional voice on issues affecting Central Arkansas, develops transportation plans required by federal law, and convenes stakeholders to deal with common environmental issues for its members in Pulaski, Faulkner, Saline, Lonoke, and Grant counties.