Living Green 365: Be creative. Find more ways to move.

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June Header-More Ways to Move

Be creative. Find more ways to move.

While sitting in rush-hour traffic, I often find myself dreaming about futuristic, space-age capsules that might get me out of the rush-hour routine. My daydream is fun, but not necessary. Minnesotans have many options for moving around, here and now. By driving alone less often, we reduce the number of vehicles on the road and save money. It also improves our social life and the quality of the air we breathe.

Think about this--the evidence shows that every 10 minutes spent on the road results in 10 percent fewer social connections; and extra stress is added for couples in which one partner commutes for longer than 45 minutes. In April, we provided tips for improving the fuel efficiency of your vehicle. If you are an impatient commuter ready to get out of the car, here are some ideas to really mobilize around.
Live closer to work. When it is time to move, consider a home that is close to your daily destinations. By doing so, you may even be able to reduce the number of cars in your household. According to a number of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure studies, eliminating one of two cars owned by a household saves an average of $7,000 annually.
Carpool or vanpool. Carpooling cuts commuting costs and may be more convenient than you think. There are many resources that offer services or simple suggestions:
Car Share
Car share. Within the U.S., we have more vehicles per capita than anywhere else in the world: a whopping 809 vehicles per 1,000 people. By sharing a car with others, you can eliminate the worry of insurance, payments, gas, and maintenance. Within the Twin Cities, Zipcar and HourCar have the largest fleet of vehicles that are available around-the-clock. To use one of these vehicles, simply sign up for a monthly membership and register the car you would like to use for a particular day and time.

Bicycle share. Growing in popularity is Nice Ride, a non-profit bicycle organization with stations all over the metro area. Simply purchase a subscription, take a bicycle, ride and return. The service is ideal for short trips that are less than five miles. For example, if you carpool or bus to work, Nice Ride is a great way to take a short ride during lunch. With bike sharing, you will never have to worry about maintenance, either!
Find the best route. Cyclopath is an app within the Twin Cities that promotes the sharing of knowledge in regards to bicycle route changes, detours, shortcuts, obstacles, etc. You can also take advantage of the ‘personalized bikeability’ feature that allows you to enter ratings for your favorite (or least favorite) routes within Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Cyclopath is available as a mobile app for Android devices. Pedal Minnesota, a website launched in 2012, also features various bicycle tips, trails, travel ideas, and events.
Stay educated. Are you interested in bicycling more, but would like to improve your skills? The Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota provides classes for bicycle safety and awareness. In addition, Smart Trips, Commuter Connection, and Anoka County TMO offer presentations at your workplace so you and your co-workers can remain educated about transportation options.

Utilize public transit. Public transit is a viable alternative to automobile use within the seven county metro and greater Minnesota. Transit users get more daily exercise and have more time to read or decompress than their driving counterparts.
  • Metro Transit, one of the largest transit agencies in the nation, offers over 150 routes, providing roughly 95% of all bus trips taken annually. All route schedules can be found on Metro Transit’s website.
  • Many other transit agencies within the seven-county metro area provide connecting service for commuters. Some providers include, Minnesota Valley Transit Authority, Plymouth MetroLink, Maple Grove Transit and Southwest Transit.
  • Arrive Minnesota is a general informational service that provides access to all transportation modes, including walking, bicycling, train, boat and air. The site also offers a feature that allows you to plan a trip using multiple transportation options.
  • For other transit services throughout greater Minnesota, simply check with your local city to see what options are available.
Explore other options. Many paths across the state are paved, allowing not only bicyclists but also those interested in rollerblading, walking, scooting and Segway-ing. In fact, statewide many businesses provide rentals for all sorts of transportation options, including rollerblades, bicycles, Segways, kayaks and canoes. Be creative!  

Be daring and do the alternative!

Community events and resources

The 31st annual Twin Cities Watermelon Ride is a family-friendly event that celebrates Independence Day with bicycling, watermelon and a picnic, July 4, start riding anytime between 7:30-10 a.m., Battle Creek Park (Maplewood).
If you enjoy the scenic North Shore of Lake Superior, take part in the 36th annual Split Rock Bicycle Tour. It's open to all levels of riders and great for a family adventure, July 21, 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Duluth.
The Minnesota Historical Society’s Mendota Walking Tour provides a unique opportunity to explore some of Minnesota’s history on foot, June 17, July 22, and August 19, 1-2:30 p.m., Sibley House Historic Site (Mendota).
Canoe the Mississippi River Water Trail with a park naturalist from Itasca and Lake Bemidji state parks. The northern stretches of the Mississippi River provide ample opportunity for novice canoeists to explore the lure of such a mighty waterway, June 16 or July 7, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Lake Bemidji State Park (Bemidji).
Check out Minnesota Monthly’s interactive map, featuring attractions along the Minneapolis’ Hiawatha Light Rail. This map is unique in the way it highlights activities and destinations along the 12-mile route. The map also provides information regarding what you need to know when using the light rail.
Venture out to this year’s Eco Experience at the State Fair. Exhibitors will be displaying bike maintenance demos, state-wide transit options, and local information about bus and rail, August 23-September 3, 9 a.m.-9 p.m., Minnesota State Fair Grounds (Saint Paul).

Thank you for reading Living Green 365. This newsletter is a publication of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Please send questions or comments about living green to the address below.
Kirstin Taggart, Britt Gangeness, and the Living Green Team