Thursday, July 29, 2010

American Idle

I have a confession to make. I buy fast food and use the drive thru. And, now for the worst part, please don't hate me - in the past I have let the engine idle while in line. Unfortunately, I am not alone.

Thirty-one states have passed anti-idling laws, Tennessee is not among them. It seems that anti-idling measures can lead to some pretty heated debate. No one denies that an idling, gasoline-powered engine spews out harmful pollutants, or that idling causes wear and tear on a vehicle.

No, the matter of contention seems to be whether it is better for the life of a vehicle to be stopped and restarted x amount of times versus idling for x amount of time. What about the lives of the residents of a community? Or the health of a local economy? Don't these trump possibly having to replace a starter? Speaking of which, every source I have turned to states emphatically that stopping and restarting the engine, does no more, and probably does less damage than idling.

But even if that weren't the case, is the quality of human life really less important than a car part? Or have we become so enamored of convenience that nothing else really matters? I'm afraid to hear the answer to that.

So the next time I have to have my particular poison, I'll be parking and walking inside to get it. And who knows, maybe after a few times, I won't feel like stopping at all.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Eat Your Broccoli, Don't Drive Alone

The concept seems simple enough - encourage folks to choose an alternative to driving alone. Why? Because air pollution is bad for people and in our region air pollution is higher than it ought to be. Keep in mind that there is money to be saved and prizes to be had by making this choice. It seems odd that people aren't beating down our doors every day clamoring to join Smart Trips. I mean, we're talking about FREE stuff.

Could it be that we so hate anything that is supposedly good for us that even FREE gift cards cannot entice us to change our ways. Is driving alone one of life's last guilty pleasures? How many commuters are out there who recycle and buy local foods and use cloth shopping bags but still hop into a car, alone, for their daily commute?

So, after pondering this for several months, here's what we've come up with. Could you commit to ONE day of alternative transportation? Just one day. Friday, August 20th, 2010 will be Knoxville's first ever Clean Commute Day. Our goal is to have 10,000 or more people commuting to work by bicyle, carpool, the bus or on foot on that day. Amazingly, if we reach our goal more than 200,000 pounds of pollution can be reduced from the air on that one day, something that normally takes about 2 months in our area. To participate just complete our quick survey here:

And we're hoping that if you try it just once, that just like broccoli, you'll realize it's not that bad.