Helpful hints for being a savvy commuter

June 23, 2015

If you live in a city but don't want to commute by car, why not ride a bicycle or catch public transport? Not only will you benefit from improved fitness and cost savings, but you’ll be helping the environment too.

Helpful hints for being a savvy commuter

Using public transport

Public transport helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improves local air quality and reduces traffic congestion.

  • Travel by train or bus whenever you can. It takes another car off the road and it uses less fuel per passenger, provided most of the seats on your bus or train are full.
  • If your area isn't well served by public transport, consider driving part of the way and switching to train, bus, light rail or streetcar on the city outskirts.
  • Check whether your local transit authority provides access to timetables online or via a phone service. The internet is an especially useful tool for accessing integrated transport information, allowing you to work out the most efficient way to get around.

Tips for long commutes

Travel to and from work accounts for a quarter of all car travel. Here are some suggestions for changing the way you use commuter transport.

  • Find out if your employer has a strategy for encouraging staff to use their cars less. Options include allowing staff to work from home if possible, interest-free loans for purchasing public transport season tickets and salary package alternatives to a company car.
  • Ask your employer if working flexible hours is a possibility. If so, you will be able to avoid peak commuting times, at least on some days.
  • If public transport in your area is inadequate, set the ball rolling by joining a lobby group to improve it. Talk to other commuters in your area, then work out what sort of changes are needed. Finally, write letters to your local political representative, municipality or newspaper.

Tips for short commutes

If you have only a short distance to travel, you have numerous transport options – from your own two feet to motorcycles or scooters that use fuel economically.

  • If you're fit and agile, and traffic conditions are safe in your area, consider buying a scooter, skateboard, rollerskates or rollerblades. They're relatively cheap to buy and faster than walking. Be sure to wear the appropriate safety gear for each mode of transport.
  • For a little extra power, consider an electric bike. Both earth-wise and convenient, these bikes are typically powered by a rechargeable nickel-hydride battery weighing about 18 kilograms (40 pounds) and can travel about 25 kilometres (15 miles) without being recharged. Some models can fold neatly into the trunk of a car.
  • If you need to go further than a bike can take you, consider the benefits of small motorcycles. On average, they use less fuel than a car – a smaller model may average about 40 kilometres (25 miles) per 1 litre (1/4 gallon) – and are more manoeuvrable. Choose a lightweight model for maximum fuel economy.
  • If you want a powered bike but don't want anything as big as a motorcycle – or something you must straddle – consider a motor scooter. It's more economical than a motorcycle and some scooters can travel 50 kilometres (30 miles) or further on 1 litre (1/4 gallon) of gas. Also, you don't necessarily need a licence to drive one.

You may not be able to avoid a daily commute to work, but at least you can make smart choices for a greener, healthier and less expensive ride.

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