Citizens for Modern Transit’s Great Race II Demonstrates Air Quality Benefits of Alternative Transportation Modes

Article courtesy of the St. Louis
Regional Clean Air Partnership

In May, the St. Louis Regional Clean Air Partnership sponsored and participated in Citizens for Modern Transit’s Great Race II event, a unique competition placing four teams – TRANSIT, BIKE, CARSHARE and CARPOOL – in a head-to-head battle to raise awareness about the viable alternative transportation options available in the St. Louis region. Designed to play off the CBS television hit “The Amazing Race,” the event required the teams to follow route specifics indicative of each transportation mode, as they dashed from the Laurel Apartments in downtown St. Louis to Fortel’s Pizza Den in Clayton to see who could cross the finish line the fastest.

For the second year in a row, Team CARSHARE reigned victorious, but all four teams arrived within minutes of one another, demonstrating how each mode can serve as a practical and viable transportation option. The event also helped reinforce how choosing an alternative commute can positively impact our region’s air quality – not to mention the economic, health and quality of life benefits.

“With the emissions released by mobile transportation sources being one of the biggest contributors of poor air quality, the way we commute has one of the most profound effects on the air we breathe,” said Susannah Fuchs, senior director of environmental health for the American Lung Association of the Plains-Gulf Region. “The less we commute alone, the more we improve air quality. That’s why choosing to carshare, carpool/vanpool, bike more and use transit is so important, and this year’s Great Race showed that these transportation options can be just as viable and convenient as a solo commute.”

Fuchs notes that utilizing these alternative transportation options is especially important at this time of the year, when temperatures are typically at their hottest, and air quality tends to be at its worst.

“Ozone pollution is formed when the searing summer heat and sunlight ‘cook up’ the Nitrogen Oxides and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) emitted by cars, busses and other vehicles,” said Fuchs. “Alternative commuting takes cars off the roads, along with the related emissions that can lead to the orange and red air quality days that make breathing so difficult for many area residents.”

For those that must commute alone, taking steps to commute less by combining errands into a single trip, telecommuting and walking to lunch instead of driving can help reduce emissions. Trip planning can also help drivers reduce the time they spend idling in traffic tie-ups or highway construction zones.

“As we continue our work to inform the public about ways they can do their share for cleaner air, our participation in events like the Great Race II help us further demonstrate how simple lifestyle choices can positively affect air quality, and we thank Citizens for Modern Transit for giving us the chance to sponsor and be part of this year’s event.”

For additional emissions-reductions tips, individuals are encouraged to visit the St. Louis Regional Clean Air Partnership’s website at www.cleanair-stlouis.com. To stay informed on the region’s air quality for the duration of the summer, area residents are also encouraged to find the Clean Air Partnership on Facebook, follow the organization on Twitter @gatewaycleanair or visit www.cleanair-stlouis.com and sign up to receive the daily air quality forecast. Details on the Great Race II are available by visiting Citizens for Modern Transit’s website at www.cmt-stl.org.