According to the 2006-2008 American Community Survey, more than 75 percent of Americans drive to work alone. That’s more than 106 million drivers commuting an average of 25 minutes one way.
For Charles Marshall, resource efficiency manager for the Directorate of Public Works’ Environmental Management Division, fitting in with the majority doesn’t cut it. He uses a van pool to travel from his home in Atlanta to his office on Fort Benning. Once here, he uses his recently purchased bicycle to run errands and attend meetings at other buildings on post.
He is “the perfect green commuter,” said Tannis Danley, program analyst for the Air, Noise and Recycling Programs on Fort Benning. “He’s saving gas, he’s saving his wallet, and he’s doing something significant for our environment.” The van pool has many advantages, said Marshall, who enjoys the camaraderie, the shared driving and extra time to rest or work, environmental benefits and the savings — about $500 a month.
“I actually get home earlier now than I used to when I worked in Atlanta,” he said. Marshall started commuting with the van pool in September, occasionally borrowing rides from co-workers when he needed to visit another building on post. But two months ago, he had an idea.
“I had heard about folding bikes, so I went and looked at a bike shop and thought, this’ll work,” he said. “I get a chance to exercise … and don’t have to worry about filling up on gas. I actually keep (my bike) under my desk.”
The 20-pound, seven-speed bike folds into a two-foot square in 90 seconds and Marshall can get to nearly any location on Main Post within a few minutes, he said. “To me, it’s comfortable. You can adjust everything,” he said. “I’ll bike ride anywhere. It’s a good way to get around.”
Marshall recently signed up with the Clean Air Campaign’s Cash for Commuters program. The program provides $3 a day, up to $100, for qualified green commuters.
Green commuting means using a van pool, car pool, mass transit, telework, walking or bicycling to reduce the amount of vehicle emissions released into the air, Danley said.
“Vehicle emissions do two things,” she said. “We have nitrogen oxide, which is a precursor to the bad (lower level) ozone. And we also have fine particulate matter which makes your vehicle exhaust pipes turn black.”
Those emissions reduce air quality and increase health risks, Danley said.
“We’re coming into smog season, which runs from the first of May to the end of October,” she said. “On hot and sunny summer days, stagnant air can trap pollutants and, when combined with sunlight, result in unacceptable levels of ground-level ozone.”
Reducing your fuel emissions doesn’t have to be complicated, Danley said. It can be as simple as turning of the car when you’re idling or making sure your vehicle is running efficiently by getting a tune up.
By joining the Clean Air Campaign, individuals can find out about car pool and van pool opportunities near their home. DA Civilians and military personnel can sign up for the Army van pool program and be reimbursed the cost of a van rental and gas — up to $230 a month.
“It’s all about reducing the amount of fuel that we burn to get where we need to go,” Danley said. “If you’ve got 12 people in a van, that’s 12 cars not on the road. It all adds up.”
To find out more about the Clean Air Campaign, visit www.cleanaircampaign.org. For more information about commuting options on post, call 706-545-7576.