Leave the Cars at Home for a Day

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Car Free Day, a worldwide event to encourage people to find methods for greener travel, aims to get people out of their cars for a day.  The hope is that people will continue the practice at other times throughout the year.

“This originated in Europe and was very successful there. The first Car Free Day in the District of Columbia was in 2007,” said Holly Morello, the chair of the Washington Area Council of Governments Car Free Day committee. “Since then, it’s just something the region has picked up on and supported to varying degrees. Most of the larger jurisdictions, like Prince William County and Fairfax, Loudoun, and Arlington promote Car Free Day.”

Sept. 22 is Car Free Day and Commuter Connections. This is a regional network of transportation organizations that work to improve commutes in the region. The organization is promoting the event with prizes for people who register and pledge to leave their cars at home. Prizes include commuter train passes, $25 SmarTrip cards, a Samsung Galaxy tablet, grocery store gift cards, T-shirts, cookbooks, and more.

The game locally is bingo. Complete three bingo blocks in a row on the registration page to qualify for the prizes that include an OmniRide gift bag and a gift card from Historic Manassas Inc. The prizes are available for participating Manassas businesses.  “The bingo card is just to get people out and engaged doing non-car activities like taking transit or biking or walking. We just try to engage people that way,” Morello said.

Some of the options mark on the bingo card include visiting the OmniRide table at the Downtown Manassas Farmer’s Market on Sept. 18, teleworking, riding an OmniRide bus, taking a Virginia Railway Express or Metro train, or visiting the Bike Exploration on Prince William County’s webpage at www.pwcva.gov.

Going car-free can mean riding a bus, joining a car or vanpool, using the metro, teleworking, walking, taking the Virginia Railway Express, or cycling. “I think sometimes people get a little laser-focused on what they know. This is an educational opportunity to let people know that there really are a lot of options in Prince William County to get around that doesn’t mean sitting in your car by yourself,” Morello said. “Long-term, it keeps people off the road, which is great for reducing traffic in our area, reducing the carbon footprint, and really educating people about transportation options.”

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