Try it! Go Car Lite!

logoFor the 8th year, Keep Middlesex Moving, (KMM), Middlesex County’s commuter services organization, is joining a worldwide movement to support Car Free Day on September 22, 2013.  Car Free Day started in Iceland, England, and France in 1995 to raise awareness about the negative impacts motor vehicles have on our environment.

KMM will kick off this initiative on September 19, 2013 at Jimmy John’s located at 8 Easton Avenue in the heart of New Brunswick.  WCTC 1410AM’s very own Tommy G will be broadcasting live from Jimmy John’s between 12pm and 3pm.  Prizes will be given away to those who stop by the location during the program run time!

On Car Free Day (9/22/13) or any day during the week of September 15th to September 28th, KMM urges commuters to take the Car Free Pledge and recommends the following alternatives:

 

Use public transportation – a train, a bus, or light rail

Ride a bike or take a walk

Carpool or Vanpool

Bring a brown bag lunch or walk to grab a bite to eat

Work from home

 

Commuters who pledge to go Car Free or Car Lite can register at www.kmm.org.  They will be entered into a drawing to win host of prizes including a $50 gift card from Magyar Bank or a Heldrich Spa Gift Certificate or State Theater New Brunswick Tickets or Rutgers Football Ticket Basket or Fragrance Basket from Firmenich Inc.!   For more information or to register for the event, log on to www.kmm.org .   Deadline for registrations is September 21, 2013.

 

 

 

The Shore Attitude – Beyond Summer

Beach%20Pic%201The bright sun streaming through your window wakes you up – it’s going to be another hot day on the Jersey Shore. You and your family put on bathing suits, t-shirts and sandals, and walk a couple blocks to that breakfast place for pancakes. Later, you load up the cart for the three block walk to the beach while your eldest rides off on a cruiser bike to meet her friends on the boardwalk. On the walk, you wave hello to your neighbors for the week and stop to chat, while your youngest tugs at your shirt to keep going – the waves are waiting.

Summer vacation is great time to experience the joys of living “car-lite” by walking and biking where you need to go, but why can’t we bring some of that lifestyle and attitude with us when it’s time to return to work and school? Here are some ideas.
Group your walkable errands.

Got places to go near your home or office? Instead of stopping there in your car on your way to/from someplace else, plan ahead and save those errands for an evening or weekend walk. You’ll get things done, and some exercise, too!

Meet the neighbors

While you’re out, take a moment to say hello. Pet the dogs, sniff the flowers, and take a moment to enjoy your neighborhood.

Encourage your children

Show your children how to get around their neighborhood on foot and by bike, then encourage them to make that choice. Don’t just drive them because you can, or because “it’s hottttt,” “it’s colllld,” “it’s raining,” or “I have a backpack.” Make sure they’ve learned and practiced crossing the street and bicycling safely.

Ride slow.

Just because you’re home, doesn’t mean you have to be racing your bike. Where would you ride at a leisurely pace? To the coffee shop? The pool? A friend’s barbecue?

Any clothing is bike clothing.

If you can ride to the beach in a bathing suit and flip-flops, you can ride at home in, well, anything that works for the weather. Wear a helmet, and use lights at night (a front white light and a red rear light).

 

Mind the Gap – Changes in Latitude

As a mother of two active school-age children living in the New Jersey suburbs, our family vehicle is very much a part of our family.  We drive almost everywhere with children and gear and friends in tow.  Add office life and social commitments – it’s safe to say our lives as professionals and parents and chauffeurs are full.  So you can imagine my absolute delight and glee when my husband and I left the car and our children in the hands of their loving grandparents and flew off to England for a “holiday”/ work combo trip!

Cheers from London!
Cheers from London!

For 10 ten days we navigated the city of London by foot, train, Underground and river boat and were able to capture the true essence of London.  Staying 25-minutes outside of the city for the beginning portion of our trip, each morning with our Oyster Card in hand, we boarded the train and headed into London.  With a quick exchange in the Underground, we made our way to my husband’s office.  Work first and recreation in the afternoon was our motto and it served us well.

The sun shining and the temperatures in the 70’s was quite unusual for London, but we took advantage of all the city had to offer.  A river boat trip down the Thames gave us a glimpse of the hustle and bustle from both sides of the river.  A walk past Parliament, Westminster Abbey and to Buckingham Palace allowed us to take in the sights by foot.  A stop at the local pub allowed us to converse with the locals and rest my poor feet, who had become slaves to my poor shoe choice.

Each day brought us new discoveries – a ripe enormous fig tree nestled in the middle of St. James Park – and visits to sites we enjoyed on our last trip together to London – a walk across Tower Bridge.   By the end of our first week, we had traversed most of London and I didn’t need to think twice about minding the gap and found myself looking left at each corner!

The weekend brought us to England’s countryside as we carpooled with our local friends to the cities of Ilminster, Glastonbury, Wells and quick stop at Stonehenge.  Thatch roofs cottages lined the country roads and just the most quaint villages welcomed us with endearing conversations and delicious foods.  But like all good things, our weekend came to a close and we returned to the city of London.

With my stint of the trip coming to an end, I did my best to consume every last pound on my Oyster Card.  A trip to Kensington and some last-minute gift shopping in Harrods brought my card to just enough to get me to Heathrow Airport.

The morning of my departure was most fitting.  The rain that is very much England-norm fell lightly as I made my way to the Underground to the Station to the Airport.  This leg of the trip was mine to take alone, since my husband still had work to finish and reality was waiting for me on the other side of the pond.

As my flight took off and we reached higher and higher altitudes, I was thankful for this opportunity for a Change in Latitude.

A Brief History of Carpooling

12847ff5b3499cc22b77bb379a864543While KMM’s history with ridesharing goes back 25 years, ridesharing can be traced to the early 20th century. The Model T lured commuters off streetcars and into private vehicles. The start of WWI and the 1914 recession inspired entrepreneurs to offset the costs of car ownership by picking up streetcar passengers and transporting them to their destinations for a “jitney,” the 5-cent cost of a streetcar fare. During WWII, early attempts to promote “car clubbing” were largely ignored, in part because, the general public didn’t understand the need to conserve fuel.

This changed when the United States entered the war. “They Do It, So Can We” was one of many patriotic appeals appearing on posters and ads. The gas shortages of the 1970s encouraged a 55 mph speed limit and high occupancy vehicle lanes. Additionally, funding initiatives to promote ridesharing were introduced and for the first time,  ridesharing was linked to improved air quality.

Today carpooling has evolved into apps, online programs, point systems and sometimes even “slugging”.  Our reasons for carpooling range from saving money, convenience and creating a more sustainable community.  But regardless of how we carpool or why we carpool, carpooling – we think – is here to stay.