This year’s record-breaking winter provides a great excuse to ditch your snow-encrusted automobile and adapt your transportation habits to safer, sustainable, more efficient modes. While there are a plethora of options out there, here are five that we think are smart alternatives to the single-occupancy vehicle during the winter (bonus: you get to skip the parking fees, gas station, and reduce your carbon footprint!):
1. Take Public Transit
Public transit provides an obvious alternative to often gridlocked and dangerous winter driving conditions. Most people would agree that it is much less stressful to read, play Candy Crush, or catch up on emails during a bus ride in snowy or icy weather than to be white-knuckling your way into work wondering whether you’ll slide through a red light. If you’re new to public transit, try using the Google Transit Trip Planner to figure out what route to take and what time the bus leaves.
If you work or attend school within a few miles from home, walking is a great way to avoid the stress and hassle of driving in poor weather conditions. Layering and proper footwear is key for this mode of winter transportation. Walking is also an easy way to fit more exercise into your busy schedule has impressive impacts on cognitive function. For more on the benefits of walking and Michigan initiatives to create Active Communities and increase Safe Routes to School check out Trans4M Core Member, Michigan Fitness Foundation’s website.
3. Ride a Bike
That’s right, with the right preparation and care, you can bike during the winter. If you’re not sure where to start, Trans4M Core Member, League of Michigan Bicyclists (LMB) and the Get Downtown Program’s Conquer the Cold Challenge offer tons of winter biking resources including: Winter Biking 101 videos, safety tips, information about what to wear and where to ride when biking in the winter. Winter biking is also a great excuse to utilize your regional trail system all year.
4. Cross Country Ski or Snow Shoe
Ok, this probably isn’t a realistic option for a daily commute, but it can sure be a way to spice up your work week and make the best out of a fresh layer of snow. Cross country skiing and snow shoeing are both great ways to utilize Michigan’s extensive system of multi-use trails and get in some serious exercise. Learn more about our state’s robust trails system, find out about special events and learn how to become involved with creating and preserving trails in your region from the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance (MTGA).
If riding a bike or snowmobile, taking the bus or walking just isn’t an option for your commute , scheduling a carpool can be an easy way to make a drive to work less dreadful. Check out Michivan to join a vanpool or find commuters in your area, or create your own carpool. Sharing drive-time with a handful of your co-workers saves money; lowers greenhouse gas emissions; reduces your potential for a crash; and like public transit, can open up more time in your day to relax, converse with co-workers, read, or feed your Candy Crush addiction.
Written by Liz Treutel, Trans4M Fellow