We often dash to the store for one or two items that may or may not constitute an emergency…
In a nationwide sample of three-quarters of a million auto trips, nearly 60% were five miles or less. 16% were under one mile! Not only do these trips clog the air, but excessive traffic affects the quality of life we enjoy.
Carbon emissions are worse under 25 mph. This doesn’t give a green light to speeding to the store, but consider the inefficiencies of your engine. In an ordinary trip, you’re likely to emit 0.7 pounds of carbon dioxide per mile traveled. If your average speed drops to 15 miles per hour, emissions rise to 1.2 pounds. A heavily trafficked trip with an average speed of just 10 miles per hour and lots of idling, emits a whopping 2 pounds of carbon dioxide per mile traveled. Idling in traffic (or while parked at DariMart) is extremely polluting.
Considering there are 200 million licensed drivers in the U.S., with the average driver spending 42 hours a year sitting in traffic, that very sitting could be responsible for up to 25 million tons of carbon emissions.
Two grocery stores near my home are each a 5-8 minute drive, depending on traffic. I can walk each route in 15-20 minutes, no matter the traffic. Walking to complete nearby errands is good modeling for our children. Take a child by the hand and enjoy the time together, with no lousy music and no traffic snarls! Emotional health benefits may equal physical ones.
If you’re unable to walk, Lane Transit is an easy system to maneuver, free for seniors and students K-12. Or…perhaps you could bike! If you don’t have an operable bicycle, this might be your year! Western Oregon is good for biking year-around, for it’s not bad weather that gets in the way, it’s bad gear. Layers are the perfect biking gear, as the rider warms up in a hurry.
We all face a time crunch, a house in the hills, or physical limitations, but we can begin to pay attention to the repeat trips under five miles.