For one day, drop the car keys for cleaner air. Car Free Day is Sept. 22!

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What if for just one day you could help people breathe just a little bit easier? Transportation is a significant contributor to air pollution. One way to reduce that is to drive less. On September 22, will you consider dropping the keys for just one day and contribute to a cleaner Washington region?

September 22 is Car Free Day, a day when you can pledge to go car-free or car lite for one day. Think about all the places you go and consider what other way you could get there. You could take the bus, train, walk, or bike. This year, Car Free Day is a Friday, the most popular day for teleworking in the region. See if your employer will allow you to work from home. You could even find some friends and carpool. The idea is for one day, you can try a different way to travel and help support cleaner air.

Car Free Day has been an annual event in the Washington area since 2008. It’s sponsored and organized each year by Commuter Connections, a TPB program focused on promoting travel modes other than driving alone. Reducing trips by car can have significant benefits for the region, including reducing congestion on our roads, improving the quality of our air, and conserving energy.

MORE: Take the Car Free Day Pledge

Car Free Day and healthier air

New this year, Commuter Connections will be partnering with the American Lung Association to focus on the importance of reducing air pollution to improve health. Air pollution from vehicles contributes to health conditions such as asthma, lung cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Not only does Car Free Day encourage people to try something a little different, but it is also a reminder that reducing driving also reduces air pollution.

It’s not just about your commute

Commuter Connections usually focuses on trips to and from work, but Car Free Day is much more than that. It invites people to consider all the trips they make in a day and to find ways to replace any they might make by car with another travel mode. That means that students, retirees, stay-at-home parents, and people who work from home can all take part, too. The Consortium of Universities of the of the Washington Metropolitan Area, a group of most of the region’s colleges and universities, are also challenging their students, faculty, and staff to take the Car Free Day pledge.

You could win a prize….

Need more convincing? If you’re still not sure that you’ll to drop the keys for the day, consider all the great prizes you could be eligible for by taking the free pledge. Prizes include raffles for Capital Bikeshare memberships, Virginia Railway Express (VRE) passes, SmarTrip cards, gym memberships, restaurant gift cards, and more.

Be prepared and plan your trips

Now that you’re ready to sign the pledge, figure out exactly how you’re going to go car free. Check with your employer about teleworking options. Map out your biking or walking routes and explore your options through the Washington Area Bicycling Association. Check out your transit options by looking up WMATA and local bus routes and schedules. If you want to carpool, visit Commuter Connections to find a carpool or vanpool that goes your way.

So now you’re all set. Pledge to go car free and do your part to clear the air. You might find a new favorite way to get around!

Take the Car Free Day Pledge!

RELATED: Learn more about Commuter Connections

Cover photo by Aimee Custis on Flickr.

TPB accepts Long-Range Plan Task Force recommendations for further analysis