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Campaign: Fulfill resolutions with commute alternatives

By Maria Jose Subiria

msubiria@news-daily.com

The Clean Air Campaign is encouraging metro-Atlanta residents to keep their New Year's resolutions to lose weight, reduce stress and save money, by giving their car keys a rest in 2010.

"Eighty-four percent of Atlantans choose to drive to and from work," said Brian Carr, director of communications for The Clean Air Campaign. "Half of all travel trips in the U.S. are three miles or less, so why not hop on a bike where it is safe and practical?"

Campaign officials are encouraging commuters to consider the health benefits of using commute alternatives which incorporate walking or bicycling.

Carr said some employers are even offering free or discounted gym memberships to employees who bike to work. Walking or riding a bike also allows commuters to enjoy the scenery along their route, he said.

Clean Air Campaign officials say public transit, carpooling and vanpooling can help reduce commuters' stress by getting them out of the daily grind of Atlanta traffic.

"In general, when you are not behind the wheel ... it is really the idea that you have other things you can distract yourself with that are more enjoyable," said Carr.

Using commute alternatives can also save money on automobile wear and tear.

Carr, citing statistics from AAA, said the average motorist pays 54 cents for every mile driven.

According to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics survey released earlier this year, transportation accounted for 17 percent of consumer spending in metro Atlanta in 2006 and 2007.

"That is more than what we spend on food," said Carr. "[People] only spend 12 percent on food. If you hop on a bike, you can bring your transportation costs way down, where it is practical and based on when you can do it."