September is a month of new beginnings. The kids are heading back to start a new school year. Football season is back. The weather is still nice before colder weather sets in. It’s the perfect month for a challenge! Join the Hudson TMA and take the CarFree or Car Lite Challenge. CarFree Week will be held September 18 through September 24. CarFree Week is a global movement to increase awareness on the negative impacts that automobiles have on our environment. As a part of CarFree Week, commuters are encouraged to help cut down on pollution caused by vehicles and utilize alternate modes of transportation for a day or more.

CarFree Week began informally during the 1973 oil crisis. With fuel at a premium in the United States, commuters were encouraged to seek alternative modes of transportation. In 1994, a keynote speech at the Accessible Cities Conference included a formal call for a regular move for cities to promote Car Free Days. By the year 2000, the concept went global with a World Carfree Program being launched by the World Carfree Network.

What are the benefits of going car free? First, there’s the environmental benefit. The single most polluting activity the average American performs in a day is driving a vehicle, according to the EPA. So, if you’re looking to reduce your carbon footprint and help prevent smog, going car free goes a long way. Going car free also has economic benefits- AAA estimates that the average cost of owning a car comes to $6,100 annually. Want to know your commuting cost? Check out Hudson TMA's Commuting Cost Calculator! There are also health benefits to going car free. If you should choose walking or biking as a part of your daily commute you’ve automatically increased the amount of daily exercise you receive (count up those Fit Bit steps!) Your mental health will also benefit from going car free. Studies at the University of Montreal have shown that commuters who walk or bike to work instead of driving are more relaxed both during their commute and after it!

So you want to ditch the car? Now to figure out how to get from Point A to Point B. Option #1 is walking- it's free and great exercise, but of course it's slow, tiring and can be a challenge during inclement weather or for those with longer commutes. Option #2- Bicycling provides a viable option for those with a short to medium commute. It’s environmentally friendly, reduces stress and makes parking a breeze while also providing health benefits. You can also combine modes by biking to a transportation hub, like a train or PATH Station. How about riding to the bus stop and have the bus carry you and your bike the rest of the way?

Here in Hudson County, the Hudson TMA is a resource for Bicycle Commuters! Registered cyclists enjoy free membership in the Emergency Ride Home Program, receive regular updates on bicycle education classes as well as the opportunity to collaborate on many of the TMA’s bike related projects. Registered cyclists are also eligible to receive free safety equipment as a "Thank You" from the TMA! The Hudson TMA also offers a Bike Rehab Program which rehabilitates donated bicycles for use to commuters who would like to commute via bicycle but cannot afford one.

Is mass transit more your speed? There are a whole host of options here. Fortunately for you, Hudson County is a multimodal hub for commuters with access to NJ Transit Rail, Hudson Bergen Light Rail, NJ Transit Bus, private bus lines as well as the NY Waterway Ferry. The Hudson TMA can assist commuters looking to transition to mass transit and may find certain commuters eligible for a 50% rebate on the cost of their first monthly transit pass!

Remember, you can go completely car free or just car lite by simply eliminating some use of the car. You can pledge to try for the week, or just one day! It can involve your commute or the weekend or just when doing some errands. The idea is to try and know that it doesn’t take much to make a difference!

But wait, there’s more! As a part of CarFree Week, the Hudson TMA will enter registrants into a raffle to win admission tickets to Liberty Science Center as a thank you for helping to improve our quality of life. So there you have it: environmental benefits, health benefits; financial benefits and a chance to win tickets to Liberty Science Center. Join fellow residents from across Hudson County and register for CarFree Week!

   

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