Pedal Power

Car-free means carefree.

By Beth Huxta

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"Out on my bike, I feel the wind on my face, I can say hi to people, and I don't have to worry about parking," she says. By biking, Katz-Christy cuts emissions (a short 4-mile round trip keeps more than 3 pounds of pollutants out of the air, according to the EPA), exercises and stays healthy, and saves money on gas, insurance, and repairs. "My kids find buses and trains more fun than car travel," she says. "They pushed us to sell our car."

As economic conditions worsen, more people are parking their cars and pedaling, walking, or busing it instead to save money. Katz-Christy established the grassroots Green Streets Initiative to inspire commuters and others to turn the mean streets of the Boston area into green streets by cutting down on congestion, decreasing greenhouse-gas emissions, and creating a safer, more biker- and walker-friendly community. The group's main organizing events, Walk/Ride Day celebrations, encourage commuters to wear green and walk, bike, or take other ecofriendly transportation on the last Friday of every month.

Katz-Christy urges people who don't live around Boston to create their own Walk/Ride Days: "Even just once a month makes a difference. If you've never biked before, take baby steps. Invite a friend to ride with you." Or you can start a movement in your hometown--the idea is catching on all over the United States and other parts of the world. "I've gotten requests from England and Romania to help them start Walk/Ride Days in their communities," says Katz-Christy, who won't slow her efforts until more streets are paved with green. For more information, visit www.gogreenstreets.org.

Some Interesting Statistics:
55 minutes a day are spent on the road by the average driver.
91 percent of workers commute in personal vehicles.
8 percent of people 15+ ride a bike in an average week.
Source: 2001 National Household Travel Survey

 

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