Guest post by Burt Treehorn
Traffic, stress, money spent on gas— all contributors to that wonderful little thing called our daily commute. Making your commute greener can not only save you money, it can reduce your stress level and help contribute to a cleaner environment. Making the transition to a green commute can be difficult, especially if driving has been your only mode of transport. There are many options, and it can be a challenge to find which one works best for you. Perhaps the easiest method of reducing your commute’s carbon footprint is carpooling.
Sites like erideshare.com allow you to create a user profile, with your starting and ending location, the days and times you need to be in transit and will match you up with other people looking to carpool. Carpooling can help save you a lot of money by cutting your driving days in half, and it can also give you the opportunity to meet new people who live and work nearby.
Car sharing is another method that can save you money and hassle. If you are looking to get rid of your car, but you worry about being able to have access to a vehicle occasionally, car sharing is an excellent option.
Companies like Zipcar, the leading car-sharing company, have cars that are available for rent by the hour. You pay a membership fee and can use the car for a period of time. Many of these services offer perks like gas compensation and reduced rental rates.
For those trying to reduce their car use, there is always biking. The biking community has been growing in recent years with the push toward environmentally friendly transportation. The first issue is finding a bike that suits your needs. The right seat, handlebar height and weight are very important issues to consider. If you plan on taking your bike on public transport, it is essential that you are able to lift the bike onto any bike racks available. Once you have the perfect bike, plan your route. Most cities are bike-friendly, with bike lanes, bollards and other traffic control devices to keep traffic from accessing roads meant for pedestrians and riders.
Adapting to your Commute change
Make sure you leave yourself enough time, as riding a bicycle is going to take more time than driving. Showing up to work drenched in sweat is not very professional, and unless there are showers available at the office, you have to plan around that possibility. Investing in bike gear can be a good idea. The material used in bicycle clothes will absorb any sweat, and will keep you cool. If you have the ability to keep a few extra sets of clothes at work, it’s easy to change in and out of your bike gear. Allow yourself about 15 extra minutes to cool down and change. As well as reducing your environmental impact, biking can be a great stress relief. There is no road rage on a bike, and no bumper-to-bumper traffic. It also helps you exercise, which in and of itself can reduce stress. Plan your routes carefully and allow yourself some buffer time in case your carpool buddy is late or your usual bike route is closed. If you are thinking about switching to a greener commute, it can be a great improvement in your lifestyle, save you a lot of money and greatly reduce stress.
Burt Treehorn. A retired VP of a textile company, Burt keeps busy by being an active member of the Rotary Club, golfing and writing a daily business blog.
Featured image credit: neoporcupine, courtesy Flickr