commuting

The Sweet Spot: Riding to Work

By Lek Kadeli

There are times in life when everything seems to align. When you know you are in the right place at the right time, doing something that is at once productive and satisfying. I’ve found a regular activity that fits the bill: bicycle commuting.

I began making the switch to two-wheeled commuting over time. At first I was primarily looking for a way to build a bit more physical activity into my weekly routine. I began leaving the car at home from time to time in favor of riding. It turned out to be an easy transition. More

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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Choosing A New Car For A Longer Commute

By Lina Younes

My son started a new job recently. While we’re all very excited about his new job opportunity, there’s a drawback. The new job entails a longer commute. Therefore, my son is seriously considering buying a more fuel efficient car to make the long commute less painful at the pump.

While he has some preferred models in mind, I recommended that he do his homework before even venturing into a car showroom. I told him about EPA’s new Fuel Economy Guide for 2014 which has the fuel estimates for over one thousand vehicles. With this online guide, he’ll be able to compare which models have the best fuel efficiency according to his driving habits and commute. He’ll be able to plug in the information according to the type of car he’s looking for, if he drives in city traffic or on highways, etc. He can even compare the vehicles according to price range. Furthermore, he can see which cars are better for the environment given the green rating they’ve received due to the amount of green house gases they emit. The guide even provides data for hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles.

In fact, the fuel economy website includes the MPG ratings for both new and used cars. So you’ll have the information readily at hand to make the best choice for your pocket and the environment, even if you choose an older model. Make your own EPA’s new MPG label on used cars.

As a mom, I feel that I wouldn’t be doing my job well if I didn’t mention another good site that he should visit before buying a new vehicle. It’s www.safercar.gov which provides safety ratings for vehicles. Not only do I want him to save his hard earned money, but I also want him to be safe.

Are you considering purchasing a new or used vehicle? Do you want to calculate your fuel savings? Check out this tool  and tell us what you think.

 About the author:  Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves the Multilingual Communications Liaison for EPA. She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

 

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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Join Us and Bike to Work

Several links below exit EPA Exit EPA Disclaimer

By Joe Edgell

I’m always struck by the reasons people have for not commuting by bike.  No shower facilities.  Don’t know the route.  Unsure how to get started.  But the biggest reason cited by most people is the perceived safety of riding a bike in traffic.  In fact, 60% of people in U.S. cities indicate they would ride a bicycle but for their traffic-related concerns, according to Tom Bowden, Chairman of BikeVirginia in his recent National Bike Summit presentation.

Believe it or not, biking is actually much safer than driving or walking.  Biking has significantly less fatalities than driving, walking near traffic, swimming, motorcycling, and flying small planes.  For every hour you ride your bike, you have an incredibly small chance of getting injured—and only a 0.00000041% chance of dying.  Compared to driving a car, bicycling is far safer.  If you drive your car, you have a 15 times higher liklihood of dying than if you ride your bicycle.  You would have to ride your bike about 15,000 hours before you’d risk being killed, a number almost no one reaches.

Looking at the benefits of bicycling, the British Medical Society found, according to Tom, that the health benefits of riding your bike outweigh the risks by 77 to one!  You’ll do your mind and body a favor by bike commuting, arriving at work refreshed and ready to start the day.  And arriving home, having ridden all the day’s stresses out.

Given the incredible safety of biking to work, please come join me and my fellow cyclists and bike to work this summer. If you’re a federal government employee you can join the Federal Bike-To-Work Challenge. All cyclists can participate in events and get tips from the League of American Bicyclists. Start biking to work today and you’ll find out just how easy bicycle commuting really is!

About the author: Joe Edgell is an attorney for the Office of General Counsel. Perched atop the bicycling baby seat, he’s been bicycling since before he could walk.

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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#Biketowork: Who’s in?

My morning commute: #Biketowork

My morning commute

This evening I’ll be inflating my tires, stashing a spare tube or two in my saddle bag, and laying out my EPA cycling jersey by the dresser in preparation for my favorite commute of the year.  After waiting patiently and not-so-patiently for 364 long days, Bike to Work Day is finally upon us!

Whether you are using the organized event to join a commuter convoy and give riding to work a try for the first time, or if you are already a champion—like EPA scientist Mostafa (Safa) Shirazi who has ridden  some 132,000 miles getting to work and back over the last 45 years(!)—Bike to Work Day is a great excuse to join in on the fun.

I’ll be rolling out for my own commute from suburban Maryland to EPA’s headquarters in downtown Washington, DC around 6:30 a.m. Like I did last year, I’ll stop periodically to “Tweet” highlights from my ride, and invite you to follow via @EPALive.

For those following or adding their own “Tweets” to the mix,  I’ll be using #Biketowork.

The weather report for the morning is perfect, so if you have ever been tempted to join the rolling party that is Bike to Work Day, this should be the year.

In just a few more hours the ride will be on! Who’s in?

About the Author:  EPA science writer-editor Aaron Ferster is the editor of It All Starts with Science. While he has a long way to go before matching the number of miles ridden by his colleague Safa Shirazi, he’s looking forward to the chase.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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The New Bike Commuter…. 45 Years and 132,000 Miles Later

Several links below exit EPA Exit EPA Disclaimer

By Max Sevareid

Mostafa (Safa) Shirazi recently turned 80 years old. However, age has not kept Safa off his bike while working as a environmental research scientist with the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory Western Ecology Division facility in Corvallis, Oregon; Safa has biked to work daily since 1969. He estimates he’s bike commuted 132,000 miles, more than most cars on the road today!

Safa initially had a 6 mile round trip bike to the EPA. For the last 28 years, his commute has been 15 miles round trip by bike. What motivates him? Safa says “Just do it! Don’t think about it. Rain? Fine. Snow? Just walk, or walk your bike.” Safa wants to “live within his means – the nation needs to do that. We consume too much energy.” Just as Safa still chops the wood that heats his house to this day, his bike commuting helps him stay healthy. Asked how he stays safe, Safa says “you learn to be safe on a bike – take your time. Be careful.” He recommends reflective clothing and blinkers; Safa even wears blinker lights strapped to his trousers to encourage greater visibility. While segments of his commute have worried him in the dark and rain, local drivers look out for him since “everybody knows in town that I ride”.

Biking 132,000 miles to his federal job, Safa has saved about 129,360 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. Last year, Safa was a member of an EPA bike to work team logging miles during a month-long challenge. He logged more miles than his younger, fellow team members – 285 miles over 19 round trips – and achieved a 100% bike commute rate. EPA and other federal riders can still join this May’s Federal Bike-To-Work Challenge to be like Safa – see details here.

About the author, Max Sevareid, NHTSA Region 10 of the USDOT.  In partnership with the EPA Region 10 and local bicycle advocacy groups, Max encourages bicycle commuting and safety among federal agencies through bicycle commute challenges.  Max and his wife, Tiffany, try to incorporate bike commuting into their lives every day.

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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About That Commute

By Eric Nelson

Four-thirty on a Thursday afternoon and I’m Cape Cod bound on a commuter bus, inching away from Boston in rush-hour traffic. I look out at the cars slowly passing us, or being passed, and the drivers all look familiar. I’ve been commuting for too long. The faces in the bus look familiar, too. We’ve all been doing this for years.

I examine the faces of the car commuters more closely. Most look hypnotized, or somber. Some drivers are talking on the phone, or texting. No-one seems especially pleased with their situation. On the bus, most commuters sit quietly while the day-trippers chat. Fortunately, there are mostly commuters. They normally read, or sleep, or stare at some electronic device. I always try to write or read, but often drift off to sleep, which is a pleasant option only when not behind the wheel.

Traffic delays are usually just due to heavy volume. Our bus holds 55 passengers, and it’s normally close to full. Sometimes, when neighboring passengers are coughing and sneezing – obviously sick – I’d rather be in a car by myself than this mobile petri dish. But mostly I’m quite content to ride the bus. Besides, the average diesel bus gets approximately 6 mpg so it takes about 10 gallons of fuel to get 55 passengers 60 miles to Cape Cod. The vast majority of cars around us are holding just one person each. Even if they all get 30 mpg, it would take about 2 gallons of gas per car, or 110 gallons total, to transport the same number of persons to Cape Cod. And the longer the delay, the more fuel used and greenhouse gases spewed.

We normally get to our destination about around the same time each evening and I, for one, feel rested and relaxed. By taking the bus there is less pollution emitted and fuel consumed, no stress and time to read or reflect. Sometimes it’s easy being green.

About the author: Eric Nelson works in the Ocean and Coastal Protection Unit of EPA New England in Boston, but prefers being underwater with the fishes. He lives in a cape on Cape Cod with his wife and two daughters, and likes pesto on anything.

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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No More Helmet Head Hair

By Alice Kaufman

It’s turned cold in New England now so I’ve had to change my commute. But when the weather is nice, and temperatures are well above freezing in the morning, I ride my bike the five miles to the commuter rail station.

The train ride is the real start of the work day, when I check emails and correspond with early birds in the office. At the other end of the 50-minute ride to North Station, I slip my key into the parking meter, pick up a shared bike and ride the last mile to the office. Then there’s an official station where I can park the bike right across the street from the entrance to the building where I work.

Boston’s new bike sharing program, in case you don’t know about it, is called Hubway. It exists through a partnership with the city, the Massachusetts Dept. of Transportation, the MBTA, the Federal Transit Administration, New Balance shoe company, and others.

If I were to drive to work every day instead of taking the train, I would be responsible for 4,958 pounds of carbon each year added to the atmosphere. My winter driving to the train accounts for 826 pounds of CO2 a year.

Boston’s bike-sharing program started in the summer of 2011 with 600 indestructible bicycles and 60 stations around the city. The program is planning to add stations in Cambridge and Brookline too. Before the snow fell, the bikes were put away for the season, as was my bike.

Bike-sharing programs are also underway in Paris, London, Barcelona, Melbourne, in New York City, Denver, Boulder, Washington DC, Minneapolis, and Portland (Ore.), not to mention Wuhan and Hangzhou, China.

City biking is not for the faint-hearted, though. It can be scary sharing the lane with buses, motorists and jaywalkers. You’ve got to have your wits about you at all times, ever observant of car doors opening and vehicles making abrupt stops. A good helmet is an absolute must and reflective clothing helps as the days towards winter grow short and dark.

For now, during the winter, I am content with driving to the train station and walking 10 minutes from Boston’s South Station to my office. But I always welcome the spring and return of the Boston’s bike sharing bikes.

More info on Hubway
More info on bike sharing

About the author: Alice Kaufman works in EPA’s Boston office. She loves to travel, is an avid backcounty hiker, and frequently tromps through Thoreau’s woods in her home town with her husband and kids, and Watson, her mischievous Golden Retriever.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations 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.

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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“Commute Without Polluting”

Hey Pick 5ers, it’s time again for you to share what you’ve done, how you did it, etc.  Today we cover action #2: commute without polluting. Please share your stories as comments below. If you haven’t done it yet, Pick 5 for the Environment and then come back to comment (you can also still share how you save water !).

My experience with commuting without polluting may be a little different than others. I live in a rural area, where there’s no rapid transit. We do have a commuter bus, but it runs only during the week. A lot of places I’m unable to walk to, but I ride my bike to the post office and the local grocery store. I make my trips in the car count, like I make my necessary stops along my route coming home from work. Keeping my car well maintained saves me money on fuel and also helps cut air pollution from my car.

Now it’s your turn: How do you commute without polluting? If you’re not sure how, learn more on EPA’s site.
Note: to ward off advertisers using our blog as a platform, we don’t allow specific product endorsements.  But feel free to suggest Web sites that review products, suggest types of products, and share your experiences using them!

About the author: Denise Owens has worked at EPA for over twenty years. She is currently working in the Office of Public Affairs in Washington, DC.

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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