Alternative transportation: Switch up your commute and rack up the benefits.

Finding impactful ways to improve your green footprint is tough—especially if you’re already living mindfully. So where do you start? Surprisingly, your commute to work might be the answer…if you’re willing to ditch your car. At HiRoad we think a lot about the different ways you can get from point A to point B—and wanted to share what we’ve learned about alternative transportation options and their unexpected fringe benefits (including a greener footprint!).

Did you know that seventy-six percent of trips in a vehicle are ten miles or less?  With such short distances overall, it makes you wonder why the large majority of us (eighty-six percent) travel to and from work in a car. After all, a car, especially one with only one person, is far less efficient than most alternative transportation methods.

Benefits of alternative transportation

Choosing a more efficient form of transportation can help us emit fewer carbon emissions into the environment. If we look at both the efficiency and the fringe benefits of alternative transportation, we may be able to make a difference both in the environment and our personal lives.

Walking


Efficiency: Walking emits zero grams of CO2, a clearly better option for the environment than driving your car.
Fringe Benefits: Walking a few miles to work might increase your commute time, but in return, you get exercise (we all know how hard it can be to get in our steps every day), fresh air and the opportunity to see your town/city in a new light. It’s amazing how many things you miss when you’re whizzing by in a car.
Tip: If walking to work every day seems over-ambitious, start with committing to one day a week. Or even easier, commit to walking one way on Mondays (and take public transit home).

Cycling


Efficiency: Cycling also emits zero grams of CO2, also a great option to consider.
Fringe Benefits: Cycling to work is quicker than we think – especially when you live in a traffic-ridden city. Some people find that biking is actually faster than taking a car, sitting in traffic and looking for parking. Of course, in addition to a speedy commute, you get some exercise too – it’s a win-win.
Tip: To keep things interesting, find four or five routes you can follow on your ride to work. Perhaps each one has an added fringe benefit – like route #1 has a great coffee shop. Route #2 has your favorite bakery. Blending the efficiency of riding to work with stuff you like (coffee or pastries anyone?) will make riding to work feel like a treat.

Bus/Metro


Efficiency: Sure a bus or commuter rail still emit CO2 (169 and 120 grams per passenger respectively), but both are clearly an improvement over a solo passenger car.
Fringe Benefits: Settling into a bus or train seat begins ‘you time.’ Since you’ve handed the logistics and driving over to someone else, you can use the time to read, catch up on sleep or work or just stare out the window. Either way, this time is great for mentally preparing for what the day holds or decompressing after a long day of meetings.
Tip: Test out the different options available to you. For example, perhaps in your city, you have commute options ranging from the bus to the train to the ferry. Try one of those per week to see what you like, you might be surprised!

Keep the car, but start a carpool


Efficiency: A car with 3 people in it emits only 70 grams of CO2 per passenger and if you drive a hybrid, that number drops to 53 grams. Compared to a bus (169 grams) or a car (218 grams) a carpool is a clear win.
Fringe Benefits: You can share driving responsibilities – so on the days you’re the passenger you can sit back, enjoy the view, read the newspaper or even work. And, you’ll spend less on gas, road tolls and parking too.
Tip: Set up carpool rules that work for your group. Some people want quiet, some want to talk – discuss the rules of engagement upfront so everyone knows what to expect and how to behave.
Bonus benefit: Many auto insurance policies consider how much or how far you drive into your rates, and the less you drive the less you’ll pay. With HiRoad, we use the smarts in your smartphone to recognize your good choices, like driving less. Switching up your commute and driving less will earn you bigger monthly rewards.


So whether you’re hoping to make an environmental impact, save some money, get some exercise or just make your commute more interesting or less frustrating, there are plenty of small adjustments you can make to your commute that will add up to a big impact for you, your wallet and the world.