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Alternative Transportation Recommendation Letter

In: Social Issues

Submitted By CannonCam
Words 1258
Pages 6
Cam Mancuso
Mike Bahr
Writing-2010
Proposal Recommendation
The Salt Lake Driving Alternative With all great inventions come great consequences. Automobiles, along with many other wonderful inventions, possess adverse effects that just about rival their benefits. Since the initial birth of the car (which has grown to add trucks and SUV’s), pollution has been one of the major issues surrounding it. Pollution from vehicles has not only had negative effects on the environment, but also on people’s health. One major creation within many cities in which cars and trucks pose an environmental and health risk is smog. Around the world, including the US, smog is becoming a more prominent issue. Within the US a place that has been especially affected by smog is the Salt Lake valley, including Salt Lake City and it’s surrounding neighborhoods. The Salt Lake valley has been long known for it’s issues concerning air quality due to smog; with incentives for commuters to find alternative means of transportation there lies potential for a significant impact to be made on the air and health quality within the valley. Since the early 1900s the Salt Lake Valley has been dealing with the issue of poor air quality. Partially due to its location at the front of the Wasatch Range, Salt Lake City is especially susceptible to smog. High-pressure fronts place dry air masses over this region. This combined with an atmospheric inversion creates prime conditions for a haze that is so thick; it has been described as “so toxic as to be a certifiable health hazard” (Bombard). The smog is so bad in the valley that it earned sixth on the list of most polluted US cities by short-term pollution (Bombard). This pollution is not only detrimental to the environment but also has the ability to pose serious health threats to the population inhabiting this area. The EPA, or Environmental Protection Agency, is doing what they can to try and stabilize the situation, placing standards on PM2.5 levels. PM2.5 is a dangerous combination of particles such as nitrate acids, metals, soil, dust, sulfate acids, and organic chemicals, all of which are approximately 2.5 micrometers in diameter. These particles are hazardous because they penetrate deep into lungs and have the ability to worsen or even cause respiratory diseases including lung and heart diseases as well strokes. In the year of 1971 Utah’s PM2.5 level was 3080 micrograms per cubic meter, more than twelve times the national standard. Since that time many improvements have been made. In 2008, Utah’s level of PM2.5 had been drastically reduced to 59 micrograms per cubic meter. Although this is an amazing improvement, it is still nearly twice the national standard (Bombard). This is why there is a need for action to be taken. There are many potential means of putting a dent into the air pollution problem but the most logical and efficient course of action is finding alternative methods of transportation. There are the obvious alternatives, which are a part of the public transportation system; Salt Lake City is equipped with a Trax system, also known as a transit express, which connects different parts of the city as well as some surrounding suburbs. The bus system is also a common mean of transport in the city and although both of these modes are more efficient than personal vehicles, there is still a fee attached to them and there are yet still more efficient means of transportation. Biking is a viable alternative to motorized vehicles.
Using a bicycle as transportation provides many benefits for the cyclist, such as: health improvements, fewer expenses, and of course cycling is also better for the environment. If more people would convert from driving to biking, it would have a very positive effect on the pollution and smog problem absorbing the city. When cars and bicyclists are traveling similar speeds, such as in urban areas, it was found that bike lanes were able to accommodate seven to twelve times as many people per meter of lane per hour than car lanes. This means that bike lanes would actually transport people more efficiently (Chan). Motor vehicle use produces air and noise pollution, these pollutants such as: carbon monoxide, particulates, methane, and carbon dioxide have regional and global effects. Cycling produces effectually no pollution (Litman). Since cycling is such an applicable solution to the pollution and smog, more actions should be taken to encourage such behavior. On January 1, 2009, the Federal Bike Commuter Benefit went into effect. This cycling benefit is unlike other pre-tax benefits however as it is only offered as an employer benefit. If an employer participates, the cyclist is eligible for a bonus of up to twenty dollars a month with the qualification that the rider primarily commutes by bike without accepting any other transit benefits (Chan) Business owners as well as managers should be providing more incentives to employees in order to make cycling an even more appealing option. If employers were to promote cycling to and from work with simple motivations it would improve the situation. There are plenty of good ideas to do this, such as: offering a starter kit to bicycle commute recruits, have t-shirts made that feature the company logo and a bike associated design, offer subsidized tune-ups at a bike shop, hold some form of prize drawing for bicycle commute participants, recognize cyclists in a company news letter, organize a contest between cycling commuters of neighboring businesses, or allow employees to earn .25 hour vacation time per day of bicycle commuting (Chan). At the Oregon Health and Science University a bike incentive program has been established that has given out over $523,000 over the course of three years.
The program is equipped with a website that is only open to employees. The website allows participants to log their trips as well as providing interactive maps of bicycling facilities. After every thirty bike trips logged the participant has a choice of three incentives. The first incentive (if they sometimes drive) is a reimbursement of one months parking, the second is $35 if they also receive a transit pass subsidy, and thirdly if the cyclist does not drive a car or partake in the transit, they receive $50. (Maus) The organization also provides route maps, access to tools, tubes, secure bike parking, and showers. 43% of the program participants stated that cash incentive was one of their primary motivators, second only to physical and mental health benefits. (Maus) With everything that is going on in the world today, there is enough to worry about without further damaging our environment. Biking is a worthwhile option to explore and try out. If more businesses in and surrounding Salt Lake City offered incentives, the number of cyclists would increase improving overall health and fitness as well as having a positive impact on the environment and bettering the air quality.

Works Cited
Bombard, Benjamin. (2011, December). Salt Lake City: The Place For Smog. Retrieved from http://www.catalystmagazine.net/component/content/article/44/1097
Chan, Frank. (2011). Bike Commuter Benefits: Federal Law Provides Tax Incentive to Cycle to Work. http://www.sfbike.org/?commute
Chan, Frank. (2011). Incentives. Retrieved from http://www.sfbike.org/?Employers_incentives
Litman, Todd. (2011, November 24). Evaluating Non-Motorized Transportation Benefits and Costs. Retrieved from http://www.vtpi.org/nmt-tdm.pdf
Maus, Jonathan. (2011, April 19). Cash Incentives Spur Bike Commutes at OHSU. Retrieved from http://bikeportland.org/2011/04/19/cash-incentives-spur-bike-commutes-at-ohsu-51335

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