By David Ward
Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert, Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon and Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker have joined together to challenge Utahns to “Drive Less and Drive Smarter”. In support of this effort, Utahns are being asked, during the month of July, to participate in the 2010 Clear the Air Challenge.
Those participating will accept a challenge to eliminate single-occupant vehicle trips thereby reducing emissions and conserving energy, while at the same time saving money. Trips are eliminated through the use of alternative forms of transportation, such as bicycling, car-pooling and trip-chaining.
I am excited that this challenge is back. I participated last year with the cycling utah team, and doing so finally got me into the habit of regularly opting to commute by bicycle to work and to run errands. I had resolved for years to do so, but the Clear the Air Challenge is what finally got me on track.
During July 2009, because of the Challenge, I consciously altered my routine and lifestyle to utilize the bike for utilitarian purposes and not just for exercise and recreation. Though, the truth be known, just the opposite happened: Commuting and running errands became more fun, more recreational if you will, and of course resulted in a lot of good exercise.
In 2009, thanks to the 3,456 people who took the challenge, 110,720 trips were eliminated, mileage was reduced by 1,000,615 miles, emissions were lessened by 1,715,344 pounds and 45,482 gallons of gas were conserved, resulting in savings to participants of $58,035 in total vehicle costs. My own stats were: 54 trips eliminated, 207 miles less traveled, 355 pounds of emissions eliminated, 9 gallons of gas conserved and $120 saved.
When a person accepts the challenge, they commit to reducing their vehicle trips at one of three levels: Gold (20 weekly trips), silver (10 weekly trips) or bronze (5 weekly trips). Last year, I committed to the silver level. This year, I intend to commit at the gold level. It will be hard for me to reach that goal, but I hope to be motivated to do so.
This year, cycling utah is inviting our friends and readers to join the team we are organizing for the 2010 Clear the Air Challenge. To join, simply name cycling utah as your team when you register for this year’s Challenge. Or, you can create your own team. Registration is now open, so go ahead and sign up.
Frankly, I simply enjoy and love riding a bike. For me, taking the Clear the Air Challenge only enhances my enjoyment of life while being a more conscientious world citizen.
To learn more and to register, go to www.cleartheairchallenge.org.