If you see fewer cars on the road and more people walking or riding bikes today, don't be surprised. It's "Don't Drive Day."
"Don't Drive Day" is a promotion designed to get people in the Charlotte region thinking about alternatives to commuting alone that might help reduce air pollution in the area. The promotion is sponsored by Clean Air Works, a project of the Regional Air Quality Board that works with various employers -- including The Herald -- in eight counties around Charlotte to find ways to reduce ozone and improve the air quality in the region.
The motivation is clear: The eight counties targeted by this project, including parts of York County, don't meet federal clean-air standards. And one of the prime contributors to local air pollution is traffic.
"Don't Drive Day" is a clever gimmick to increase awareness of the problem and to encourage people to come up with commuting alternatives. Those who bike or walk to work today could be eligible to win a prize. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org by Thursday explaining how you got to work today, and you could win an electronic lawnmower, an iPod Touch or other prizes.
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Government, of course, will play a crucial role in forming national energy policy. But change also must occur at the community and personal level.
Since easternYork County was included in the nonattainment area around Charlotte in 2004, the fear has been that the federal government would impose harsh rules to bring down the ozone level, such as mandatory auto inspections or banning gas-powered lawnmowers. Some local resentment also has festered because York County was lumped into the nonattainment area largely because of its proximity to smog-belching Charlotte, not because the county's air failed to meet federal standards.
But that is no excuse for ignoring the dangers of regional air pollution. Air doesn't recognize state lines and other man-made boundaries, and residents of York County are capable of acting in our own best interest to reduce air pollution.
The Clean Air Works project seeks to mine the creativity and imagination of employees from throughout the affected eight-county region. Organizers stress that the effort not only could help improve air quality but also reduce traffic congestion, save money and improve the health of all residents.
Think globally; act locally. The path to cleaner air starts in our backyards.
"Don't Drive Day" designed to promote new approaches to commuting.
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