Getting Around, Greenly

by Alison Lueders, Great Green Editing

It’s not easy being green when it comes to getting around Tampa Bay. Many of us are “car-dependent”, as the site puts it. The score for my house – on a scale from 1 to 100, where 100 is the best – is 6. That’s not a typo – just 6. It’s hard to get to most things – a job, grocery store, school, restaurant, post office, pharmacy, you name it – in a reasonable time without a car.

But cars contribute significantly to greenhouse gases. While increasing the fuel efficiency of cars is a step in the right direction, there are other options to investigate.

What to do?

  • Take Public Transit. Unfortunately, public transit in Tampa Bay ranks poorly, according to a recent Brookings Institution study. Nevertheless, ridership has been rising steadily for both PSTA and HART. Find out whether it will work for you. Try it –  even a day a week can make a difference.
  • Walk or Bike. Think about where you can walk or bike. Increasingly, I see people on bikes with baskets, pedaling home with a bag or two of groceries. Not an option for a big family, perhaps. But everyone from college students to retirees can save money, get some exercise and cut their carbon footprint by walking or biking some of the time.
  • Telecommute, if you can. Today’s technology allows many people to work from wherever they are. Leave the car in the garage and savor your freedom from rush hour.
  • Go Hybrid. A previous post mentioned that Prius is now the third best-selling car in the world. You save money on gas and you save time. Fewer trips to the gas station are a real bonus for busy people.
  • Check out Electric Vehicles. Florida is preparing for these. The City of Miami Beach and the City of West Palm Beach have already signed up with Car Charging Group to install charging stations. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Tampa has 10 charging stations in use right now.

Americans are known for their love affair with cars. Perhaps we can spread that love around a little bit!