The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) wants you to consider a challenge: could you go for five full days without driving alone?
That’s the basis of their new “Five Days of Freedom” campaign, which is somewhat of an update to “Car Free Day” events held previous years.
“Rather than asking the community to ditch cars outright, we’re encouraging central Ohioans to reconsider some driving habits and try doubling up on trips and errands, and filling more seats than just the driver’s seat,” explains Evelyn Ebert, Air Quality Coordinator at MORPC.
In addition to carpooling, MORPC is encouraging the use of biking, busing and walking during the five-day challenge, which pledge takers can commit to anytime between now and the end of October.
“The ‘freedom’ refers to your freedom from high gas prices, stressful highway traffic, parking hassles, and lonely drives,” says Ebert. “The average driver uses 581 gallons of gasoline per year, and with gas prices hovering between $3.50 and $4.00 per gallon right now, it’s not difficult to see why it makes good fiscal sense to explore alternate transportation options.”
Beyond the personal benefits touted as reasons for accepting this challenge, MORPC is also committed to finding solutions to improve air quality in Central Ohio. Ebert cites a reduction in automobile exhaust as one way to achieve that goal.
“Fewer vehicles on the road means fewer pollutants in the air,” she says. “The air quality in the region has been steadily improving over the past several years, but hot, stagnant days create conditions in which smog is likely to develop.”
While the issue of air quality is one to be taken seriously, Ebert says that MORPC wants to keep this challenge fun and engaging for all types of commuters.
“Where driving alone can be tense and demanding, riding the bus is peaceful, carpooling is social, and bicycling is a blast,” she adds. “We want people to get imaginative with this! Kayaking, ziplining, rollerskating, and riding horseback are all encouraged modes of transportation!”