Written by: Tessa Harvey
The damage done to our environment by our vehicles is widely known. We know it’s not a good thing, and definitely not a sustainable thing, but it’s become so common that often, it’s easier to ignore the truth than do something about it.
But here’s the truth: according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, vehicles –cars and trucks– are responsible for almost one fifth of all the United States’ emissions. In fact, the total US transportation sector produces more carbon emissions than any other sector– almost thirty percent of the nation’s emissions.
Monday, June 12 marks the start of Active Commute Week. Active Commute Week (ACW) is a community-wide effort to get residents out of their one-person vehicle and walk, bike, take the bus, board carpool, run–etc.– to where they need to get that day. Currently, about 42 organizations have signed up to participate.
ACW is in its 6th Grand Rapids annual event, this year partnering with sponsors Meijer, Long Road Distillers, West Michigan Rideshare, GVSU, Steelcase, KDL, Priority Health and more. Last year, the event saw over 300 participants log travel time, and expect to see participants grow this year. One of the week’s sponsors, White Pine Outfitters, will be offering bike rentals to those who do not already own a bike and would like to park their car and bike for the week.
The week centers around the Active Commute Week Challenge, in which participants can register with AWC and log their daily travels on the Rapid’s Rideshare program. ACW sponsors prize drawings and awards for those who log the most distance.
“Active Commute Week helps to build community, get people active, and thinking about traveling to their destinations in something other than a single occupant motor vehicle. Less single occupant vehicles on the road helps our environment and our safety,” says Amy, a member of the ACW committee.
The committee is volunteer based; members are from many organizations, but have interest in encouraging active commutes. Planning begins about six months before ACW.
On Friday, June 16, the week culminates with a Bike to Work day featuring 14 pit stops around town with refreshments and more prizes. Later, participants can head to Long Road Distillers for a Handle Bar Happy Hour, where winners will be announced and more prizes given away.
WMEAC is supporting Active Commute Week by participating as a pit stop on Friday, June 16.