Driving to work is not only harmful to the environment, but it can also make a dent in your wallet over time.
If you're looking to lessen your carbon footprint this year and save money while you're at it, consider these alternative ways to commute to work.
A popular option for those who live close to work, but not close enough to walk every day. Cities have invested millions of dollars into bike lanes, public bike rentals and traffic patterns for those who want to trade four wheels for two.
Biking to work is one of the most popular ways of getting around in a big city because of its simplicity and benefits to the environment — it's also a productive way to get a little more exercise, and who couldn't use that?
New York's Citi Bike program kicked off in 2013 and now maintains and tracks 12,000 bikes across all five boroughs. Riders log in with an app and the distance is billed to a credit card. If you live in a tiny apartment in a big city, you probably don't have the cash for a car or space for a bicycle. If your city has a public bike system, see if it works for you. But don't forget your helmet!
2. Mass transit
Life in a big city has its advantages. A comprehensive and accessible public transit system tops the list. If you live in a city with regular bus, train or light rail service, use it! One of the smartest things you can do when you move to a new city is getting to know how the public transportation system works. Even if you own a car.
Just because you drive everywhere doesn't mean you'll want to. Look for apartments in neighborhoods that are close to transit stops, and it can save you a ton of time wasted sitting in bumper to bumper traffic.
Think carpooling is old fashioned? Well, everything old is new again. Uber and Lyft both began offering a pool share option and remain a popular choice among the “automotively absent." And it remains another great option for people who have a car but want to drive less or use less gas.
Alternating drive days with your coworkers can be a fun and efficient way to cut back on fossil fuels and get to know your colleagues better. It will save you time four days a week (you still have to pick up and drop off everyone one day a week), but you'll get to use the carpool lane. And if you're in a carpool with your manager, think of the bright side. If you're ever late, it won't be a big deal. Because your boss will be late, too!
This is your first and best option if you live close to work. Have you ever come home from work at the end of the day and felt guilty because you didn't have the energy to go to the gym? Think of how much better you'd feel if you got in your 10,000 steps during your commute to work.
A light breakfast and a brisk walk first thing in the morning will give you more sustained energy and will make you more clear-headed, even in those boring 3 p.m. meetings. Don't want to scuff up your expensive dress shoes? Throw on your running shoes, and pack your shoes in your bag. It worked for Melanie Griffith in "Working Girl," and it will work for you, too.
Sometimes, the best method to commute to work is to do it from home. There are lots of reasons to work from home these days. Maybe you feel under the weather but not sick enough to not work. Sometimes, blizzards will make it easier to work remotely. Or sometimes, your kid is sick and needs you to make soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.
Most jobs now offer a degree of flexibility when it comes to working from home. And depending on what's going on in your city, it might not be worth the hassle of trying to get to the office at 9 a.m.
6. Electric scooter
Before you roll your eyes, electric scooters are fun. If you're looking for a way to make a short hop to the bagel place on Sunday morning or an excuse to skip the subway on a Tuesday, grab one of these scooters. Check to make sure you have the correct app on your phone, or you can look for the scooters that are operated by the big rideshare companies. Once you enter your payment information and snap a picture of your driver's license, just scan the QR code on the scooter of your choice and hit the road — at eight miles per hour.
Yes, these things are annoying and they wind up on street corners and take up sidewalks. But the best way to change how they're viewed is to use them properly and respectfully. Use the scooters on the roads and not the sidewalks. Always wear your helmet and when you're done, park it somewhere out of the way that isn't right in the middle of foot traffic.
7. Electric bikes/moped
Born to be wild…ish. Cities like New York are now experimenting with these efficient and available pedal-push electric bikes. And the feedback from riders so far is promising. These electric bikes handle and ride the same as the publicly available rental bikes we discussed earlier but on their own power.
That means you can get to work, earlier than expected, and you won't arrive looking like a sweaty, rumpled mess. These bikes will keep up with the flow of slow-moving traffic, with a maximum speed of up to 20 miles per hour. It's a great solution for someone who wants to have a little more fun during their work week but can't afford or can't store a Vespa on the street outside their building.
Feel like Gregory Peck or Audrey Hepburn in "Roman Holiday" at a fraction of the cost — and way more traffic. And helmets!
Rethink your commute to work
Don't feel like you have to be locked into owning a car to commute to work. And if you do own a car, let it sit in the driveway more often. Use the tools and resources at your disposal to get around town while leaving your ride at home.
Between public transportation, rideshares and bike and scooter rental services, you're always a couple of wheels away from getting where you're going. But seriously, though, wear a helmet!