A recent article in The Atlantic by Emily Badger discussing commuting options with the least carbon emissions highlights the efforts being made by many groups to help us all get to where we're going in the most eco-friendly way. Not all of us are in the market for hybrid vehicles, and depending upon where we live, the public transit system may not offer a viable alternative over driving ourselves to where we need to be. But, could examining the whole system and then offering relevant green alternatives be a solution? Perhaps. As the article notes, congestion causes a lot of carbon emissions. Therefore, diverting drivers from highways to other roads could lead to back up once again.
In short, balance is what's needed for our commutes. The right amount of people using the right amount of transportation taking the right paths to get there at the right times. For large cities, this formula is so complex as to be impossible to get right.
Therefore, while we still wait on routing guides that provide up-to-the-minute choices for us environmentally-friendly drivers, we'd like to highlight some tried and true options to get you from Point A to Point B. Most of these should be realistic for you regardless of where you live, how long your commute is, or what the weather is like.
Pick the right car
If your family has more than one vehicle - regardless of whose car is whose - make sure they're rightly apportioned for your commute. Take the car that gets great gas mileage on the longer trips, whether it's to the office or to the beach.
Eliminate left turns
UPS has recently committed to routing its drivers without left turns. Time spent waiting to turn across traffic is time spent idling, wasting gas and spewing pollution into the air. While it will require some handiwork on your part, map out your most frequent routes so that they don't require left turns. This is a good move unless you end up driving several miles out of your way.
Batch your errands
If you're out, stay out. This will save you the time of going to and from so many places, and it will also save you the extra travel distance. If you're running out for milk and you also need a frame, to mail a letter, and to stop by the video store (do any still exist?), then do it all at once instead of coming back to your house so much. Even better - do as much as possible to and from work since you're already on the road.
Shift your work schedule
While not an option for everyone, depending upon your line of work, working from home one day a week or even coming in an hour earlier (and leaving an hour earlier) could make you miss rush hour and all of its dreaded traffic headaches. Not only is your commute making your life miserable, but it's costing you and your company money. Share this with the boss and see how flexible your schedule might get.
What nearly universal tips do you have for ways to save gas and the planet when it comes to your daily commute? Share your ideas in the comments below.