Green Commute Week, sponsored by the Program for Alternative Transportation and Health (PATH), will take place in greater Concord from Monday, May 17, to Sunday, May 23, and will feature a variety of events, including Gov. John Lynch biking to the Statehouse from his Hopkinton home, and free burritos for state employees willing to walk from their offices to downtown Concord.
“The idea is to be positive and fun and to get people on the track toward changing their commuting habits,” said Nick Coates, of the Central New Hampshire Regional Planning Commission.
Joined by a group of cyclists, Lynch will bike to the Statehouse on Friday, May 21, which is Bike/Walk to Work Day. On Wednesday, May 19, employees from 15 state agencies will walk from their offices to Eagle Square in downtown Concord, with the first 250 people arriving receiving a free burrito from Boloco. Other retailers are offering free coffee and eats for green commuters, and Concord’s trolley will be free on Tuesday, May 18, with the donation of a canned good, Coates said.
The state Department of Environmental Services pledged to drive at least 15,000 fewer miles during the six-week Green Commute Initiative. That’s 2,500 miles per week, Coates said.
“That’s a lot,” Coates said. “That’s really cool.” Coates said organizers are expecting more people to participate this year than last.
Green Commute Week takes place within a statewide promotion termed Commute Green 2010, sponsored by the state Department of Transportation and the Bike-Walk Alliance. That initiative goes from May 15 to June 25. Organizers are asking people to carpool, walk, cycle or take a bus to work at least six times during the six weeks.
Participants will be eligible to win an overnight stay at the Mount Washington Resort.
PATH is using the program to boost awareness of the health and environmental benefits of a greener commute, Coates said.
Anecdotally, Coates said there seem to be more people opting for green commutes around Concord. He suspected that had to do with the effort to create a bicycle master plan in Concord. Coates said the first public meeting for the plan drew 75 people.
There are more than 20 groups based in central New Hampshire planning to cycle to downtown Concord, Coates said, and “That’s saying something,” Coates said. “We have people leaving at 5:30 a.m. in the morning from Belmont...to me that’s showing something. People are actually looking at bicycle transportation as a legitimate way to get around,” Coates said.
Coates said he and others have done informal surveys in Concord and found that carpool numbers have remained about the same from when gas prices peaked a couple years ago to now, which he takes as a sign people were changing their ways rather than just reacting to high gas prices.
Visit www.path-nh.org. Call 226-6020. Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.