A Cleaner Way to Get Around the U

By: Chris Chayet

A big way that we can cut down on our own carbon footprints is by taking a look at and possibly changing the way we get around. This is a difficult thing to look at because we don’t all live in the same place with the same access to public transportation, we need to go to places such as the grocery store, work, or class. Because of where we live, we may have no other option but to drive. Sometimes we live in places where we in fact do have access to modes of mass public transportation, but it is more convenient for us to own a car because we may travel to places other than work or school frequently enough to warrant having our own personal form of transportation.

According to the 2009 National Household Transportation Survey, Americans make 86.4% of all their trips by car, 10.4% by walking, 2.2% by taking public transportation, and 1.0% by walking. These numbers should not really be that surprising given the number of cars we see on the roads, and for the most part, this sort of makes sense. Not everyone lives in a dense urban center where the things they need or places they want to go are close by, causing them to rely on cars to get them where they want to go. Those of us that live on or near the University of Minnesota Campus are able to take advantage of the sidewalks, bike paths, and campus transit options that help us get all over campus. Many of these resources extend into the greater Minneapolis area and even surrounding suburbs. We as students should take advantage of these resources as it allows us to get to the places we need to go without personal forms of transportation like cars.

I am from Minnetonka, Minnesota, a western suburb of Minneapolis, and I utilize the public transportation system and alternate forms of transportation frequently during the school year. My parent’s home in the suburbs is actually right on a metro transit bus route, so anytime I want to go home I can take public transportation all the way there and literally get dropped off in front of my house. When living on campus I walk nearly everywhere I need to go whether that be the grocery store, a restaurant, or class. In the winter when walking isn’t as much of an attractive option, the green line light rail line runs right through campus and I can use that to get to class. During the average school year, I hardly ever need to rely on cars or my own form of private transportation. This not only has reduced my environmental impact, but it is also a more economic option for me, as I do not need to pay for gas, parking, or other expenses that come with owning and maintaining a car.

I suspect that many people on campus are quite aware of the options that I have mentioned above, perhaps even more aware than myself, and that is great. I encourage them to continue to use these resources, and if they are not aware, then I suggest giving another look at public transportation and see if it would work for them. I know that many of us tend to live in what we would call a bubble and rarely ever leave that form day to day, and if we do, we may then rely on cars to get around because it may just be easier. I would urge those who are reading this to do a little more research when planning their next trip, whether it be a long distance or just further into downtown Minneapolis and see if you can do it by walking, biking, or taking a bus or train. These systems are extensive and have been put in place so that we can take advantage of them, so let’s do that. Let’s make things a little easier on ourselves and make the world a healthier place in the process.

Edited for spelling, grammar, and clarity

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