Monday, December 10, 2012

Give Yourself and our Earth the Best Gifts

  While dashing through the snow in the New York metro area, many people would love to have a one-horse open sleigh to take them on their errands, laughing all the way. Reality means we're navigating through crowds of shoppers, workers, tourists and travelers this holiday season and that can make our spirits less than bright.

   We at Clean Air NY have a wish list we'd love for everyone who believes as we do, that taking everyday steps to improve air quality is the best gift for our planet, to take to heart.

   First, we wish that more people would seize the opportunity to drive their vehicles less and to choose alternatives to travel. Explore the range of what's available for you, whether it is bus, rail, subway, ferries, carpooling, vanpooling, or when the weather allows, biking or walking. Any of these options will produce more cash savings and less stress than if you were stuck in traffic.

   Second, we wish that for those drivers who cannot adopt these alternatives into their routines, even occasionally, to be creative in combining all their errands into a single trip. They will save themselves time and money and reduce stress on themselves and their vehicles. Take it easy as you start and stop your vehicles; reduce idling time; remove items weighing down your trunk; keep tires properly inflated; and use the overdrive and cruise control features if you have them.

   The biggest gift of all by taking any one of these steps: Reducing the amount of fuel you use improves air quality, since transportation accounts for 38 percent of all greenhosue gas emissions in New York State. Since we all know traffic never seems to take a holiday, celebrate this holiday season with gifts of wiser behavior and better health for everyone on our planet.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Counting our blessings on Thanksgiving

We all reflect on the bounty of the season as we gather for Thanksgiving each year. Amid the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, New Yorkers are facing a holiday this year that is bittersweet. Among the many powerful truths emerging from the storm: Sharing information saves lives.

Clean Air NY, as an educational outreach initiative sponsored by the New York State Department of Transportation, wants everyone who travels over the Thanksgiving weekend to keep that lesson uppermost in mind. The storm underscored how important it is to know about the impacts of weather emergencies and other incidents that affect our complicated transportation infrastructure.

We are grateful for those in the New York metro area who hear our message about improving air quality and take action. Even as we know that using mass transit, carpooling or combining trips can help reduce air pollution, we also know that such actions can be life-saving because they reduce the number of vehicles on our roads and highways.

A vital tool, no matter the weather, is 511NY, the free traffic, travel and transit information source provided by the New York State Department of Transportation via phone and Web at As Hurricane Sandy pummeled the lower Hudson Valley, New York metro region and Long Island, countless people benefited from the services 511NY provides. It continues to aid travelers who want the most up-to-date data on conditions before they head out, no matter the mode.

This Thanksgiving, let us remember that helping others can be done in many ways. Communication and information about the best ways to travel are central to ensuring our safety as well as cleaning our skies.  

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Find your fun amid fall's foliage

  What better way to savor the splendor of the season in the greater New York metropolitan area than to walk or to ride a bike? These experiences offer a bounty of benefits: visual delights, terrific exercise, camaraderie among friends and family and, best of all, fewer motor vehicles generating emissions. Seize the moments now before winter curbs your enthusiasm for some outdoor activities.    
   There are abundant opportunities for leaf-peeping adventures in the region. While you are admiring the reds and golds on display, remember that all those falling leaves can be put to good use in gardens and on lawns because they are useful high-carbon materials. Mix the leaves with grass clippings in your compost pile and you’ll be grateful when spring planting season arrives. Shredded leaves also can be effective mulch for soil, adding nutrients and helping it retain moisture. Burning leaves, which is banned in many communities, is never good for air quality; leaf smoke may contain noxious chemicals such as benzo(a)pyrene, suspected as a major factor in lung cancer. Carbon monoxide in leaf smoke also can bind with hemoglobin in the blood. 
   To get going on your journeys, check out these choices for the bicyclist and pedestrian: 

In New York City:
In the Lower Hudson Valley:

In Long Island:
  Wherever you wander, we at Clean Air NY encourage you to explore, the free traffic, travel and transit information source provided by the New York State Department of Transportation to help you know what you need before you go.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Get in the Game with Smart Travel Choices

  Sports fans love autumn in New York. In the greater metropolitan area, enjoy even more excitement with the upcoming debut of the Brooklyn Nets. The basketball team’s owners report that 10,000 season tickets already have been sold for its new Barclays Center at 620 Atlantic Ave. Smart sports fans also are Clean Air NY fans and know the best ways to see all the action in every venue is via mass transit.

  In keeping with this spirit, a new subway entry at Barclays debuted on Sept. 17. This center connects nine subway lines, 11 bus lines and the Long Island Rail Road so that the need to drive to the new arena is eliminated. Check out

  Want to see the rival Knicks? You have easy transit and travel options to get to Madison Square Garden.
  If you’re always ready for some football, travel to the Giants and Jets home games at the MetLife Stadium with this helpful guidance: New Meadowlands Stadium.

  Even as the baseball season winds down, diamond devotees know the best ways to see the Yankees and Mets swinging their bats at their home parks is to check out New Yankee Stadium and Citi Field, respectively.   

  Explore the free traffic, transit and travel information source,, to learn more about what you need to know before you go. The site is provided by the New York State Department of Transportation, which sponsors Clean Air NY.   

Combine several travel options, such as carpool, transit and walking, to all your sporting events and you'll score a win for cleaner air.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

On the Alert for Cleaner Air, No Matter the Season

   Everyone who lives and works in the metropolitan New York area learns how to deal with the challenges of the changing seasons. With autumn's arrival, the weather condtions can vary widely, sometimes daily. Fans of Clean Air NY who do their part to improve the air quality with simple and easy steps keep those commitments 365 days a year.

   While summer typically has the highest number of Air Quality Action Day alerts, unhealthy levels of particulate matter can occur at any time of the year. Traffic on many urban streets never seems to take a holiday.

    Such alerts are important to anyone who may have respiratory or immune system issues and to other sensitive groups, such as the elderly and children. Air Quality Action Day alerts are issued through Clean Air NY's sponsor, the New York State Department of Transportation, and its 511NY traffic, transit and travel information source, When these days occur, consider these actions to improve your own health and those of your fellow citizens:

    Eat lunch at work. By not driving to dine or to pick something up, you won't add to the elevated levels of pollution. 

    Take mass transit and you'll take one more vehicle off the road. Carpools and vanpools reduce the volume of emissions being generated, too. Working from home on an alert day is another option for some people.

    If you have to drive, try to plan your schedule so that you can combine all your errands to be completed in a single trip. In addition to clearing the air, you'll save time, money and wear-and-tear on your engine. Follow these tips and fall's skies will be brighter for everyone.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Back to school, back to work, back to busy commutes for everyone

   Summer is nearing its finale, surrendering to fall's faster pace. For many families, the Labor Day weekend is a last chance for a getaway before resuming our commuting schedules. Back-to-school shopping excursions and journeys to colleges add to the mix on our busier roadways. Arriving with this new season are new opportunities to be smarter in going about our routines.

    The best choices are those that decrease what is pumped into the atmosphere, no matter the time of year. Transportation accounts for 38 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in New York State. If we minimize the time spent driving,by taking alternate forms of transportation, such as mass transit, carpools and vanpools, and by combining trips, we lessen the number of Air Quality Action Days. These alerts signal higher ground-level ozone pollution and particulate matter levels that can affect sensitive groups, such as the elderly, children and people with certain respiratory or immune illnesses. Clean Air NY offers plenty of tips on how to cope with these alerts that are issued through its sponsor, the New York State Department of Transportation, and its 511NY traffic, transit and travel information source,

    Fall brings special hurdles for families who want to reduce their carbon footprints. As the school year begins, morning drive time traffic swells. More children are being shuttled to and from school by their parents and fewer students are walking or biking than in decades past. Extra trips for after-school activities make afternoon/evening drive times more hectic, too. With a greater awareness of how these trips add up, families and all commuters can take simple steps to subtract some of them from their routines. In areas where walking or bicycling to and from school and work are viable options, families should consider them, even if doing so every day isn't feasible. The benefit of that exercise, better health, is a perfect complement to the benefit of cleaner air.

     Another lesson to learn for students of every age is the value of eco-driving. The definition of this effective strategy comes from "Eco-driving is a way of driving that reduces fuel consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and accident rates." How to accomplish this? Go easy on stopping and starting your vehicles; reduce idling time; remove items weighing down your trunk; keep tires properly inflated; and use the overdrive and cruise control featuers if you have them. These tips and more show a little knowledge is a powerful help to our planet.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Keep Up a Healthier Commute

Our record-breaking temperatures this summer have made travelers even more aware of the impact our transportation choices can make. Being stranded in traffic, whether you are vacation-bound or going to work, increases the levels of pollutants in the atmosphere and adds stress in many ways.

Poor air quality has been linked to a range of respiratory issues, including asthma, and there are other concerns motorists should consider in their commute, according to a study published this May in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Christine Hoehner of Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., the lead author, said people who drive long distances to and from work face an increased risk of "higher weight, lower fitness levels and higher blood pressure, all of which are strong predictors of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers."

She noted, "Previous studies have pointed to daily exposure to traffic, particularly the unpredictability of traffic, as being a source of chronic stress," raising blood pressure rates; she said these new findings are generating potential impacts on stamina, energy and overall well-being.

Commuters can be creative in choosing alternatives to get to where they need to go, combining one or more of these options - carpooling, park-and-ride lots, mass transit, bicycling and walking. Each can be viable to shorten the time people spend behind the wheels of their vehicles. The benefits are plentiful, from cleaner air to better health.

To inspire you to make smarter decisions about your travels, we at Clean Air NY encourage you to be mindful of Air Quality Action Days when they are announced and to explore, the free traffic, transit and travel information source of the New York State Department of Transportation. Good health is a precious resource, just like clean air, that we all need to protect.