Residents get around… without their vehicles

Red Deer residents parked their cars to join others around the world as they cycled, walked or skated instead of getting behind the steering wheel on Saturday.

Red Deer residents parked their cars to join others around the world as they cycled, walked or skated instead of getting behind the steering wheel on Saturday.

World Car Free Day, held every year on Sept. 22, encourages motorists to leave their cars at home and use alternate modes of transportation.

This was the second consecutive year the city urged residents to park it.

City staff and local vendors manned information booths and handed out information on car free alternatives in the area at Barrett Park.

“We’re really working as part of the city’s environmental plan to change how people are getting around,” said Lauren Maris, environmental program specialist for Red Deer.

“I think people are interested in getting around the city in not just their cars. They are doing it both for health reasons and the environment.”

Maris said the city wants to highlight those options around Red Deer which include using the path systems, the transit system and carpooling services.

“If you were to leave your car home on regular commute day, a day you go to work, you’d save 2.6 kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions,” said Maris.

“So if everyone did that even one day a week, it would make a huge difference. Not to mention it’s good for our health.”

Like last year, the city offered free city transit rides throughout the day.

Gerry Gummo, city transit planner, said the ridership on that one day increased by 15 per cent compared to the same day, the previous week. Gummo said there are many advantages of taking the bus.

“In Red Deer about 90 per cent of the trips are made by single occupant vehicles,” said Gummo. “It is easy to see why transit is very efficient and makes a huge effect on the environment. The bus routes are scheduled. They are running. Whether you choose to leave your car at home and take the bus or not.”

He said ridership is gradually increasing and expects it to increase as more people are paying attention to the environmental and health benefits.

“We have an excellent transit system in Red Deer,” he said.

“We have excellent coverage. We cover the entire city with our network. I would just suggest people give it a try. See how relaxing it is as a passenger instead of driver fighting traffic.”

During Carpool Week 2012 (Oct. 15 to 19), the city and its partners will officially launch a new ride share option through carpooling.ca. The commuting service matches ride seekers and drivers in Red Deer and surrounding area.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com

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