When people try something new, it opens up a whole new world to them, according to Mary Morse Marti.
“Often it’s just that very first time where there’s so much uncertainty,” she said.
Morse Marti and her organization, Move Minneapolis, are hoping to help people overcome that uncertainty around alternative commuting. They’re promoting an event called World Car-Free Day and encouraging downtown Minneapolis commuters to switch modes of transit for the day on Sept. 22.
“We’re encouraging the employers that are taking part to be really flexible with their employees,” Morse Marti said. “If somebody shows up a little sweatier than usual, give them a pass.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 59.6 percent of workers in Minneapolis drove alone to work in 2015. Another 13.4 percent took public transportation, 8.5 percent carpooled, 7.5 percent walked, 5 percent biked and 5.3 percent worked from home.
Statewide, 78.1 percent of workers drove alone to work in 2015.
Those vehicles create to large amounts of air pollution, according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Motor vehicles give off more than half of all carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon emissions in Minnesota and contribute to breathing and heart problems and an elevated risk of cancer.
Nationally, transportation is the second-leading source of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Despite that prevalence, every action can help no matter how small, Morse Marti said. Even just switching your commute one day a week can make a big difference, she said.
In Minneapolis, there are plenty of options for people looking to ditch the single-occupancy vehicle. Move Minneapolis points out many of them on its website, but options include biking, carpooling and Metro Transit busses and rails. The organization offers bike-education courses, and its website lists resources for people looking to make an alternative commute.
Morse Marti said the organization is trying to build World Car-Free Day into an annual event. She predicted that it would become more popular as people discover the freedom of multi-modalism.
People may even want to try teleworking, she said. She pointed to the website eworkplace-mn.com, which has tips for employers who want to set up teleworking policies.
World Car-Free Day is observed in 1,500 cities in more than 40 countries, according to Move Minneapolis. The goal is to create awareness and educate commuters about alternatives to driving alone.
Commuters who participate in Minneapolis can be entered into a drawing for prizes such as bikes, staycation packages, Orchestra Hall tickets and unlimited Go To transit passes.
Individual commuter pledges can be made online at moveminneapolis.org, at participating workplaces, at One On One Bicycle Studio (117 N. Washington Ave.), in the ABC Ramps lobbies from 6-9 a.m. Sept. 18-20 or at Move Minneapolis (505 Nicollet Mall) during regular business hours.
Mayor Betsy Hodges and the City Council will hear a resolution about the event at the council’s Sept. 20 meeting.