Albany commuters encouraged to “green their commute”

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ALBANY, N.Y. — “Green” transportation can range from walking, riding a bike, opting to use public transportation or simply maintaining your vehicle to drive efficiently.

As a part of the first annual “Green Your Commute Day” in the Capital Region, the State Department of Environmental Conservation has partnered with the Capital District Transportation Authority, among others, to urge commuters to be more environmentally conscious this Friday.

The lunchtime event, held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday in Albany's Tri-centennial Park on Broadway and Columbia streets, will include a bicycle ride, electronic car display, information on increasing your vehicle's fuel efficiency, plus free raffles and giveaways.

DEC Commissioner Joe Martens was among the cyclists who participated in Friday, which is also national “Bike to Work Day”. Martens remained outside the DEC building, located at 110 Watervliet Road in Albany, to greet those who participated by also riding their bikes to work that morning. Martens said that reducing your carbon footprint isn't the only good result of greener transportation.

“This is designed to bring awareness to the environmental, financial and health benefits of alternative transportation,” Martens said.  “The amount of exercise you can get and the money you will save on fuel and auto maintenance is a good reason to join the crowd this Friday to show your support for ‘green' commuting.”

The event is a collaborative effort between the DEC, CDTA and other state agencies including: The State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), Albany Parking Authority, Downtown Albany Business Improvement District (BID) and Capital District Transportation Committee (CDTC).

Margo Janack, of the CDTA, said that about 80 percent of Capital Region commuters regularly travel to work in single occupancy vehicles. To encourage area residents to take advantage of public transportation options, the CDTA offered a free, one-day bus pass for those who chose public transportation as their way to participate May 17.

At the event, a CDTA will offer information about routes, schedules, information about commuting services and how to use bus bike racks on city buses. They will have a hybrid bus on display to show participants how to use bus bike racks. The CDTA reminded commuters that nearly 1,000 land bike racks are located around the Capital Region within a quarter-mile of a bus route.

“This gives our community an opportunity to highlight alternate modes of transportation and re-think how they commute,” said CDTA chairman David Stackrow.

Bike riding was among the options of green transportation promoted by agencies involved, but they also encourage commuters to carpool if that wasn't a viable means for them.

“By carpooling, drivers can help reduce air pollution and save money at the pump,” said Michael Klein, executive director of the Albany Parking Authority. “It's one of the easiest environmentally-friendly steps drivers can take.”

The Albany Parking Authority will provide free, one-day parking to carpoolers only (two or more people in the same vehicle) at the Quackenbush Parking Garage in downtown Albany on May 17.  Drivers must complete a short registration form available at the offices of BID or at the Quackenbush Parking Garage the day of the event, and must also register at either www.purpool.com ( for those who work at 625 Broadway only) or  www.iPool2.org (if you work elsewhere in the capital region).

“As we cultivate a thriving downtown neighborhood, one large attraction is the walk-ability and available resources within the district,” explained Georgette Steffens, executive director, BID.  “Many of our current residents love the freedom of parking their vehicles and being able to walk to their workplace, catch the bus, ride their bike and walk to great dining and entertainment options.”

The event was also sponsored by the Broadway Bicycle Co. in Albany and Plaine and Son in Schenectady. They will each hold a safety and maintenance clinic and take cyclists out for a lunchtime fun ride.

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