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Leave the Car!!!

2010 June 24

bakeLast month, I challenged myself to lower my carbon footprint so I decided to work out my first big step: overcoming car dependency.  I live in the San Juan metropolitan area, where you have everything so near that sometimes using the car is ridiculous.  First of all, I tuned up my old bike and skateboard.  I started going almost everywhere with them:  grocery store, drugstore, university, concerts, and even on Friday nights hanging out with my friends.  I used my car only to go to work, because the distance between work and my apartment is significant.   But I realize that other options where available, like the bike/train program, which gave me the opportunity to use the train with my bike and cut a run of approximately 45 minutes to one of 10 minutes to work.   Unfortunately, it was no easy feat.  Here in Puerto Rico the infrastructure to support the use of bicycles is almost zero.  Even though, there are many recreational cyclists here, there is still a lot to be learned about promoting the use of the bicycle as transportation means.  While we have a local Cyclist Bill of Rights, it is not enforced all the time.  Cyclists, recreational or not, are a big group, and agencies need to provide the necessary infrastructure to guarantee our safety.

We all know that cars & trucks are among the largest sources of air pollution.  Vehicles emit about one-third of all volatile organic compounds and half of the nitrogen oxides and air toxics that contribute to poor air quality.  They release carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas and known contributor to climate change.

Our Agency has taken various steps to help employees reduce their impact on the environment. EPA offers its employees a Transit Subsidy which is an excellent way to promote the use of mass transportation.  Also programs like Flexiplace, Alternate Work Locations and Compressed Work Schedules give us the opportunity to limit or eliminate our commute days, thus lowering our carbon footprint.
For now, I am working towards becoming car independent.  I strive to lower my carbon footprint by making this and other changes in my daily routine.  While I am changing my life, I am improving my health and contributing to making Earth a better place.

About the author: Alex Rivera joined EPA in 2007.  He works as an environmental engineer in the Municipal Waters Division of the Caribbean Environmental Protection Division.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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27 Responses leave one →
  1. armansyahardanis permalink
    June 24, 2010

    Really, I think a big trouble and a big problem to live in the metropolitan. Traffic jam, air pollution and intolerance among the people. Here, not only in the city, but also in the villages. They are proud to change their bikes to become the cars, because of status symbol. You are leave the cars, but we are begin it. Tragic…..!!!!!

  2. jesse permalink
    June 24, 2010

    Just like the transit subsidy, EPA should give a similar subsidy to people that do not use any transportation at all. Eventhough mass transit helps to lower the emission, it still produces emissions. by not even using mass transit, and just moving our mass, we cull all the emissions.

  3. Lori Latimer permalink
    June 24, 2010

    I am ready to sell my Jeep and use alternatives. In our town, if it is via bike, I will be taking a serious safety risk to do so.

  4. Antonio Found permalink
    June 24, 2010

    Awesome conversion Alex! Hey, I am a missionary in Mexico and would like to know if you could help me out with some pointers concerning environmental engineering,

  5. Rubenier permalink
    June 24, 2010

    Me parecio verte llegar en bici un dia y me pregunte…donde estacionara la bicicleta??? Y te pregunto, el edificio cuenta con un lugar seguro bajo techo para dejar las bicletas? Porque yo estoy viniendo en tren y guagua pero si hay donde dejar la bici prefiero no usar la guagua. Ya que como dijo Albert Schweitzer “Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing”.

    [English, just in case]
    I think I saw you riding your bike one day and I asked myself, where he will park his bike…??? And I’m asking you now, does the building has a safe indoors place to leave the bike? Because I’m coming by train and bus, but if there where a place to leave the bike I prefer not to use the bus. Since, as Albert Schweitzer said “Example is Not the main thing in Influencing Others. It is the only thing. “

  6. Mike Hubbard permalink
    June 25, 2010

    I am sick of this “Green” talk.
    In the town I live in, the water casts are going up. The reason , given to us, is that because water conversation by the residents has been so good, the city is not getting the income, so an increase in the cost of water has been passed along to us.
    Why conserve? Just use away, forget the “Green” Al Gore, the cheater, theory and kive.

  7. Alex permalink
    June 25, 2010

    I enter to the parking here in the building and I leave it in the third floor, on the reserved area. I am waiting for somebody to tell me something, I will tell them that when they prepare an area for that I will stop doing so. Sometimes for obtaining solutions we have to create crisis.

  8. Alex permalink
    June 25, 2010

    Send me what kind of info you will need. Write me an email to

  9. Atalia Rosario permalink
    June 25, 2010

    First of all, it will be necessary to propose a safe route for bicyclists since their safety is endangered by aggresive drivers here in PR. But I honestly don’t see the need in driving to a place that is around the block when walking is so good for you AND the planet. Hopefully, our fellows will appreciate what we are doing and we lead by example by starting off small and working our way up: recycling cans, paper, turning off unused electrical items, turning off the water when brushing and bathing, and, of course, walking when possible. :)

  10. Paul permalink
    June 25, 2010

    Can you send me some info on on environmental engineering setup, so I can better understand in detail?

  11. Alex permalink
    June 25, 2010

    Excellent Aty! Is all about common sense. Keep it that way my friend.

  12. Debbie from Texas permalink
    June 27, 2010

    We would love to be able to do this. But since we live out in the country, we combine trips. We only go to town (5 plus miles away from home), if we need more than one item and if other family members in the area also needs something from the store. Since we do have a post office box, we usually go no more than twice a week. I would love it if there was a type of transit bus service in this area, but there isn’t. My MIL doesn’t drive anymore, so her doctor’s visits and grocery shopping is left to us. (We don’t mind!)

  13. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    June 27, 2010

    There needs to be more done for bike and walking safety all over the country. We need the infrastructure put in place to make cities more walkable and accessible and to be more bike friendly. Orange County is starting to improve integrating bus, rail, and bike transportation. You can take your bike on the bus and the Metrolink train here. Some of our Metrolink stations have bike lockers at the station so you can leave your bike safely at the station and walk the rest of the way to work if your job is close to the station. One station in San Juan Capistrano is starting a new program of renting bikes out to train and bus passengers to finish their trips. We have a good system of bike lanes and trails as well. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  14. tn requin permalink
    July 1, 2010

    Il est très agréable.
    Je l’aime beaucoup.
    Merci beaucoup.

  15. Celso Ruiz permalink
    July 1, 2010

    Alex, congratulations it is amazing. Thanks for your help to save our planet.

  16. buddy permalink
    August 9, 2010

    i always use my skateboard for getting to and from work, its even more enjoyable when i go past the main highway and see it backed up with traffic knowing i could be in that but i just roll right past

  17. tim permalink
    December 3, 2010

    I definitely think a bike is the way to go but agree with Michael as cyclist deaths are very high every year.

  18. Boys 20 Inch Bike permalink
    December 6, 2010

    I think everyone that can commute locally should consider biking as it is not only environmentally friendly, but is also a great cardio workout for your health and you save money on gas.

  19. Gerry permalink
    December 21, 2010

    it is amazing work alex keep it up .people like you help a lot to reduce pollution and keep or environment clean.

  20. Fadi permalink
    December 30, 2010

    I certainly agree with you!

  21. Joey permalink
    March 30, 2011

    Well, I used to use my bike, a new one I got to go train, then college, but I can walk, ok, even if I carry my laptop and books with me, is fair play, still I don’t own a car, neither I need one to go college, plus walking makes me active and fit and also helps my cardiovascular system and I stay in shape :) Also when I get a car, it is going to be a low-gas emissions one(3 to 4 culinder), an hybrid (gas/low-gas emissions) or an zero-gas emission one( electric), even if I have to make it myself, using an used up 3 doors sedan car (Geo Metro) and a electric engine(around 400 to 800 dollars), but still I am interested first in making an electric bike (motocycle) out of an gas-combustion one (used-one, take gasoline-related components) Ohh, well that would be when I have time to spare and also money to spare lol

    Great Site you got, also I am from around Metropolitan Area too :D


  22. Alexander permalink
    February 8, 2012

    Awesome conversion Alex! Hey, I am a missionary in Mexico and would like to know if you could help me.

  23. wengxiniayv permalink
    April 23, 2012

    Thank you for sharing
    I really like

  24. panel signs permalink
    November 1, 2013

    Cyclists, recreational or not, are a big group, and agencies need to provide the necessary infrastructure to guarantee our safety.

  25. wall decals permalink
    November 2, 2013

    You can take your bike on the bus and the Metrolink train here. Some of We have a good system of bike lanes and trails as well. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  26. wall murals permalink
    November 2, 2013

    But I realize that other options where available, like the bike/train program, which gave me

  27. Keith Hecht permalink
    January 20, 2014

    Ample knowledge about auto transport

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