How to make your commute climate-healthy

Cars are a massive contributor to air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. But there are greener and healthier alternatives to driving, and you can try them out today. Here’s how to get started.

Raise your hand if you hate traffic jams. Of course, who doesn’t? But beside making our cities incredibly busy and noisy, we all know cars also add to air pollution and climate change. Passenger cars account for around 61% of total CO2e emissions from road transport in Europe. And partly because of the growing popularity of SUVs, these emissions are increasing year by year.

Although some cities can already count on great public transport connections and bicycle infrastructure, as well as new e-mobility options like shared e-bikes and e-scooters, others are still lacking public funds to enhance transport networks or build cycle lanes. But regardless of which city you live in, cycling to work or jumping on the train instead of driving every once in a while can make a big difference — both for the climate and your health.

Sources: Energy Policy (Vol. 138), San Francisco Environment, BBC.

How can a climate-healthy commute help?

If you’ve already thought about making your commute greener, here’s a big motivator for you: If we normalize taking public transport or cycling to work, we can drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions, save money, get healthier, and make our cities safer and greener. For example, if US citizens alone decided to cycle or walk short distances, 2 million metric tons of CO2e emissions per year would be saved. A little goes a long way.

7 tips for a climate-healthy commute 

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Know your options: Walking, cycling, scooting, taking the bus or other public transport are all great ways to kick off a greener commute. You can also give carpooling a try — if we reduce the number of cars on the road, emissions will also drop significantly.

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Alternate. If your office feels overwhelmingly far, consider travelling by public transport with your bike on the way there, and cycle back home. You can also walk or cycle to the office once or twice a week to start with.

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Get familiar with local traffic rules. If you’re cycling to work, remember to ride on the right, always signal before you want to make a turn, watch out for parked cars, and check if you have the right of way as a cyclist in your city. 

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First time cycling in a while? Then don’t forget about safety. Get a helmet, make sure you have a bell, your lights (front and rear!) work, and check whether your breaks and tire pressure are good. Also, don’t forget to adjust your bike to fit: sit on the bike and unclip the saddle, then place your foot on the lower pedal. Your leg should be straight and your hips should not rock in order to reach the pedal.

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Check the weather forecast before setting off. If you’re up for cycling or walking to work on a rainy or scorching summer day, just make sure you’re wearing the right clothes, and bring a spare t-shirt.

Set off early enough, and familiarize yourself with the new route to work. If you cycle, pick a low-traffic route that you know well and are comfortable with. Try it on a weekend to be sure you won’t get lost on a Monday morning.

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Bring a book with you. When you travel by public transport instead of driving, you’ll have more free time to enjoy, so make sure you bring something to read or some music to listen to during your journey.

The big picture

If we want to help the climate, keeping fossil fuels in the ground tops the list of priorities. Picking green mobility options to commute to work is a great way to do this. And plus, it’s great for our health. If enough of us switch to a climate-healthy commute, we can drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Already have a climate-healthy commute? Then encourage a friend to join you!

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