Letters

Letters 8-18-2014

The Climate Clarified

Climate change isn’t an easy subject. A class I’m taking compared it to medicine in a way that was helpful for me: Climate scientists are like planetary physicians. Our understanding of medicine is incomplete, but what we know is useful...

Beware Non-Locally Grown

The article “Farm Fresh?” couldn’t be any more true than exactly stated. As an avid shopper at the local farm markets I want to know “exactly” what I am buying, from GMO free to organic or not organic, sprayed or not sprayed and with what...

Media Bias Must End

I wish to thank Joel Weberman for his letter “Seeking Balanced Israel Coverage.” The pro-Palestinian bias includes TV news coverage...

Proud of My President

The world is a mess. According to many conservative voices, it would not be in such a mess if Obama was not the president. I am finally understanding that the problem with our president is that he is too thoughtful, too rational, too realistic, too inclined to see things differently and change his mind, too compassionate to be the leader of a free world...

Home · Articles · News · Random Thoughts · Get Smart
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Get Smart

Robert Downes - June 7th, 2007
Dagwood Bumstead still carpools to work, but outside of the funny papers, you don’t hear much about sharing rides these days.
But maybe Dagwood will have more company now that gasoline is somewhere around the $3.60 per gallon mark.
Since many of our readers weren’t even born when carpooling was invented, let’s take a drive down Memory Lane. In 1973-’74, the Arab countries launched an oil embargo against the U.S. to punish us for supporting Israel. The result was long lines at the pumps, with little gas to go around.
In response, many Americans began carpooling to work. Special parking lots for carpools were built outside urban centers and HOV lanes (for High Occupancy Vehicles) were established on the freeways of some cities to encourage multiple passengers in vehicles.
Meanwhile, American Motors Corporation rolled out new lines of small cars intended to meet the challenge of the oil embargo with higher mileage.
But after the Arabs came to their senses and started smelling that good American green again, carpooling quickly joined the junk heap of antique ideas. And, since no good deed goes unrewarded, American Motors Corporation went out of business as the trend shifted back to bigger cars.
Speed dial 34 years later and we have a similar situation to the days of the oil embargo, with pump prices expected to rise to $4 per gallon and beyond.
Will people start carpooling again? Who knows? But I‘ve heard of some people giving it a go once again (okay, only one person, but that makes it a trend).
So it’s timely that June 4-8 is Smart Commute Week in Traverse City. TART Trails has launched its annual campaign to encourage bicycling to work, walking, carpooling, and taking the BATA bus system. There’s even a Commuter Cup Challenge rewarding teams of employees to commute via alternative transportation.
I know, your eyelids are getting very heavy at the thought of it. Very, very heavy. You are perhaps even falling asleep just thinking about alternative transportation. Zzzzzzz...
So consider this startling notion instead: It’s fun. TART has arranged daily commuter breakfasts from 7-9 a.m. at different locations around TC, and it’s kinda’ cool to drop by on your bike and kick back with your fellow road warriors, gloating over your savings at the gas station and pumping your fist in defiance of the oil companies. Or just munching a donut and slurping your coffee outdoors on a beautiful summer morning.
Those stops for Smart Commuters include:
Monday, June 4: Pangea’s Pizza downtown and Another Cuppa Joe at Building 50.
Tuesday, June 5: Oryana Natural Foods.
Wednesday, June 5: BATA Transfer Station on Hall Street.
Thursday, June 7: Munson Medical Center.
Friday, June 8: Mustard’s, downtown.
But, you say, I can’t ride a bike to work because I live far out of town. Solution: Smart Commute Lots have been created at a number of places ringing Traverse City. You just park your car and bike the rest of the way into town.
The idea is to have a shared experience: Doing your bit against global warming, rebelling against high gas prices, socializing on your commute, saving the planet... that sort of thing. And needless to say, TC’s Smart Commute Week is a nice fit for Petoskey, Gaylord, Frankfort, Suttons Bay, Mackinaw City, Cheboygan... TART’s website tells how to launch a similar event in your home town.
For more information on Smart Commute Week, check out www.traversetrails.org.
Hope to see you out there this week, tall in the saddle.
 
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