Car Free Day LI is Wednesday, and leaders around the region are encouraging people to skip the single-car rides, and opt instead to get around by mass transit, bicycle or carpool. And working at home instead of traveling to the office is another good way to help the region go car-free for the day.
This is the ninth annual Car Free Day, and organizers this year say this year’s event coincides with concerns about the climate brought forward by Hurricane Ida, whose remnants wreaked havoc on homes and businesses in the region.
The Car Free Day LI Coalition of academia, government, environmental groups, and corporate stakeholders held a rally on Tuesday at Farmingdale State College.
“Recent climate reports predict a 2.7-degree Celsius warming by the end of the century, a rise that will likely worsen fires and flooding,” Mindy Germain, co-chair of Car Free Day LI and Manager of Transit Solutions, said in a statement. “Now is the time for Long Island to embrace sustainable mobility.”
This year nearly 2,000 residents have already taken the Car Free Day pledge, joining LI with 46 countries and over 2,000 cities around the globe pledging to combat climate change by driving less.
“It is our mission to arm our students with the knowledge and tools to create a more resilient future,” John Nader, Farmingdale State College president, said in a statement. “Farmingdale is proud to join with leading institutions in advancing initiatives that promote sustainable energy. Our academic programs and commitment to preparing students for the jobs of the future makes FSC an ideal host for this event.”
“Taking public transit is a no-brainer: avoid traffic and parking headaches — leave the driving to us while doing your part to help reduce carbon emissions and save the planet,” LIRR President Phil Eng said in a statement.
“You’ll experience a safe, reliable ride as we’re operating our best on-time performance in modern history, and you’ll save even more with off-peak fares running 24/7 through the end of this year. Skip the car, ride with us, and help fight climate change,” Eng added.
The rally focused on active transportation, which was introduced with “Let’s Move Long Island,” a new campaign by the U.S. Green Building Council Sustainable Transportation Committee. The campaign encourages walking and biking, or combining those activities with public transit. Two bicycles recycled by the Brookhaven Bike Co-op were donated to Farmingdale State College students that took the Car Free Day LI pledge.
And strategies to go car-free are moving forward, including Suffolk County’s Connect LI plan, whose Re-imagine Transit Study was recently completed, according to Joseph Brown, commissioner of Suffolk County Department of Public Works. Other programs include an on-demand service pilot on the South Fork and progress on NYS Route 110 Bus Rapid Transit plans. Brown said d the Bethpage Ride and the county’s Regional Bike Share Program, now at 42 locations in 10 Suffolk towns, link residents to transit, downtowns, parks, and recreation.
Nassau County is focused on creating more walkable and connected downtowns. Sean Sallie, deputy Commissioner of Public Works, shared progress in transit-oriented development, complete streets infrastructure, bike share, and a county-wide aid mobility study is underway to identify feasible solutions for implementing and integrating on-demand bike/scooter/ride sharing services to supplement existing public transit services. The study will include robust public outreach and pay particular focus on social equity in recommending new and/or enhanced mobility services in Nassau County.
And NICE Bus, a partner of Car Free Day LI, is launching new service models to entice people away from cars and the recently launched bike rack pilot on the N6 to Jones Beach, according to Erica Richards, marketing manager of NICE Bus.
On Tuesday, a new electric shuttle pilot in the Innovation Park at Hauppauge with Circuit was announced by the 511NY Rideshare team Co-Chair of Car Free Day Long Island.
Meanwhile, individuals can do their part simply by using their car less.
“With close to three million people on Long Island, even if we each drive one mile less, it adds up to quite a bit and can have a big impact on our air quality, health, traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions,” Germain said.
To pledge and access a complete list of events planned for LI Mobility Week go to www.CarFreeDayLI.com