Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Clean Air NY Year in Review

Times Square Revelersimage by amelungc used under Creative Commons license

As we prepare to turn the page on another year, many of us will take some time to contemplate all that has happened in the past 12 months and to make plans for the year to come. In that spirit, here are some of the highlights for Clean Air NY from the past year. Thanks to the support from amazing partners and supporters, 2011 was yet another fantastic year for us!

Online communities have continued to be a strong base for Clean Air NY. The Clean Air NY Twitter account received a record-breaking number of mentions in July, just one of the things that helped us increase our following on Twitter by 63 percent this year! We also reached 20,000 Facebook friends and 40,000 total subscribers across all of our pages and e-mail lists. Thanks for helping to spread the word and recommending Clean Air NY to your friends and family — it has made a significant impact in reducing air pollution in the New York metro area.

Clean Air NY participated at Broadway in Bryant Park for the first time this year and our folks got to meet thousands of you in person over the six weeks of the event. Many of you stopped to talk with us and to have your picture taken with Fresh, the Clean Air NY mascot. Check out all of the great pictures we have from Broadway in Bryant Park on our Facebook photo albums.

Clean Air NY also connected with a number of great new businesses and community groups who became Clean Air NY Community Partners and Champions this year. Organizations such as Ikea: Brooklyn, Environment Action Association and Parking Auction have shown their commitment to making the air cleaner for all New Yorkers.

We hope that you had a great 2011 as well and we wish you a happy and successful 2012!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Three Ways to Give the Gift of Cleaner Air this Holiday Season

Happy Holidays!image by Sister72 used under Creative Commons license

Each year, we count down to New Year’s Day as the culmination of the holiday season. Many people have time off from work to celebrate religious holidays that occur now, allowing us to gather with our friends and family for festivities. Here are three ways you can give the gift of cleaner air this holiday season.

1) Tell Your Friends and Family to Join Clean Air NY. The best way to share the gift of cleaner air is to help Clean Air NY spread our message. Telling others about Clean Air NY and getting them to join our network will help raise awareness about poor air quality and will provide them with helpful tips for reducing pollution. Send an e-mail to your family, friends and co-workers with a link to our commit signup page and share our Facebook page with your friends on Facebook.

2) Spend Time Together While Carpooling to Holiday Parties. Carpooling to parties and other events this holiday season can help reduce pollution and improve air quality and can offer an opportunity to enjoy the company of friends and family. While you’re in transit, it can be a great time to connect with your fellow travelers before the excitement that occurs once you’ve arrived at your destination. Maybe you can even sing some carols!

3) Choose Eco-Friendly Gifts. For gifts this holiday season, some people on your list might appreciate one that also helps them reduce air pollution. Biking and walking are two great eco-friendly ways to travel that also provide perfect gift opportunities. While a new bicycle can be expensive, check out more affordable accessories, such as helmets, locks and tire pumps. For walkers, a pedometer, new hiking boots or reflective vests for walking at night could be great gifts.

Happy holidays from Clean Air NY!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Skating in Central Park Summary

Fresh and Skating Family
This past weekend, Clean Air NY participated in 106.7 Lite FM’s Skating in Central Park for the third year in a row. The event gets better every year! We got to meet thousands of New Yorkers and to share our mission for cleaner air with them. We are happy to welcome 650 new people as our partners in improving air quality. If you still haven’t signed up, help give the gift of cleaner air this holiday season by committing to cleaner air.

Clean Air NY’s mascot, Fresh the clean air cloud, was also at Wollman Rink to spread holiday cheer and to take pictures with guests. Check out all the great photos from the first day and the second day on our Facebook page and make sure you click “Like” while you’re there. Also, don’t forget to tag your picture if you took one with Fresh at Skating in Central Park for a chance to win free ice skating tickets, including skate rental, for Wollman Rink’s 2011-2012 season!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pedestrian Plazas Cause Midtown Air Pollution to Plummet

Midtown Pedestrian Plazaimage by Loozrboy used under Creative Commons license

A few weeks ago, in honor of United Nations Day, we looked at how two international cities were addressing the issue of air pollution. New York has implemented some great programs of its own recently, so today we wanted to share with you one way we are reducing pollution here.

During the summer of 2009, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg turned sections of Broadway near Times Square and Herald Square into pedestrian plazas to help ease congestion and to improve the flow of traffic through Midtown Manhattan; other benefits, such as reduced air pollution and increased pedestrian safety, were highlighted as part of the plan. After reviewing the program’s results, Mayor Bloomberg announced on February 11, 2010, that the pedestrian plazas would become a permanent part of the Midtown landscape.

While the project’s primary goal was to improve traffic flow through Midtown, whenever vehicle travel is reduced, that usually brings a decline in air pollution. This time was no different. Nitrogen oxide (NO) pollution fell by 61 percent after the pedestrian plazas were introduced, while nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution dropped by 41 percent. Now the approximately 250,000 people who visit Times Square every day can breathe easier, knowing that air quality has improved significantly in one of the city’s most populated areas.

For a complete summary of the project’s results, see the official press release.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Reduce the Environmental Impact of Your Holiday Shopping

Shopping Mallimage by kevinspencer used under Creative Commons license

Now that Black Friday has come and gone, the holiday shopping season is in full swing. Here are some helpful tips that will help you reduce air pollution and improve air quality while you’re shopping this holiday season, but they can be used any time of the year to make a difference to our environment!

Vehicle travel is a primary source of air pollution in the New York metro area, accounting for roughly one-third of all pollution in our air. This means driving less is one of the easiest ways to improve air quality; shop online for your holiday gifts instead of driving to the store for an excellent alternative that will help reduce air pollution.

For people who are committed to shopping locally, there are ways to optimize your trips to minimize the impact they have on air quality. Plan ahead and combine, as much as possible, all of your shopping tasks into one trip and do any other errands while you’re out. This eliminates excess driving and helps keep your engine warm so that it operates more efficiently, saving money on gas!

Finding parking spaces near a store entrance often can be difficult. This leads many drivers to circle the parking lot looking for a space, with their vehicles unnecessarily emitting harmful pollution into the air the entire time. Rather than circling the lot looking for a closer space, just park in the first open spot you see and walk the short distance to the entrance. More people likely would get inside faster if they park in the first open spot they find.

Lastly, if you have to stop for gas while you’re out, remember not to top off your gas tank — stop at the click. It may surprise you to know that topping off your tank causes harmful gasoline fumes to escape into the air. The gas pump is equipped with a sensor that stops it from pumping when there is just enough extra space in the gas tank to hold these fumes. If you continue pumping gas into the tank after the pump stops itself, there is nowhere for these fumes to go except out of the tank and into the air.

Follow these easy tips and you can help give the gift of cleaner air to New Yorkers everywhere this holiday season!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Clean Air NY Has Plenty to be Thankful for This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Dinnerimage by Helga's Lobster Stew used under Creative Commons license

Thanksgiving is a time for New Yorkers and Americans everywhere to leave our busy schedules to be with family and friends and to reflect on all we have to be grateful for in our lives. Here at Clean Air NY, we have plenty to be thankful for, both this year and years past. Most of all, we’re thankful for the tremendous support we get from the New Yorkers in our network. While we work hard to spread the message about improving air quality in the New York metro area, you are the ones going out and taking action. Our sincerest gratitude goes out to all of you for your effort and persistence in reducing air pollution here in New York!

Here are some other things for which Clean Air NY is thankful:

22,000 Facebook fans. This year we’ve added nearly 7,000 new “Likes” on our Facebook page, to exceed 22,000 in total. The outpouring of support for Clean Air NY on Facebook keeps growing and we couldn’t be happier. If you haven’t done so already, “Like” our page on Facebook now!

More than 8 million vehicle miles reduced each week. In 2009, a Clean Air NY survey tracked the impact of our outreach campaign. We found that, in 2009, Clean Air NY helped to reduce vehicle miles traveled in the New York metro area by approximately 8,414,523 each week! Our network of individual partners and allies (employers, colleges, community partners and Champions) has grown considerably in the past two years as well, so that number could be even larger now!

Fewer high air pollution days. The American Lung Association’s 2010 State of the Air report indicated that the New York metro area averages 26.5 fewer days with unhealthy levels of air pollution when compared to levels from the mid-1990s. The peak period for Air Quality Action Days has passed for this year; we have had just 13 so far. In 2010, there were 14 such days. It appears we’re moving in the right direction to reduce the number of days that air pollution reaches unhealthy levels.

Happy Thanksgiving from Clean Air NY!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Skating in Central Park is Back Again this Holiday Season!

Wollman Rink Skaters

In what is becoming a holiday tradition, Clean Air NY and our mascot, Fresh, will once again be attending this year’s Skating in Central Park. The first 1,000 guests get free admission and a free ice skate rental, so make sure you come early!

When: Dec. 10 and 11, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: Wollman Rink (Click for Google Map)

We also will be running several contests during both days of the event to give you the opportunity to win cool prizes from us. Make sure you RSVP to our event on Facebook, too.

Few things put us New Yorkers in the holiday spirit more than ice skating with our loved ones outside on a crisp winter afternoon, sharing a hot chocolate and a warm pretzel in between laps around the rink. So gather your family and friends and head down to Wollman Rink on Dec. 10-11. We'll see you there and be sure to take mass transit or carpool to the rink!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Vote for Cleaner Air with Your Actions

I Voted! Stickerimage by Mortimer62 used under Creative Commons license

We can all cast a vote for cleaner air with our actions, because pollution affects every New Yorker. Reducing air pollution doesn’t need to be inconvenient, either. Simple actions and small changes to your transportation habits are all it takes to make a difference in air quality. Here are a few ways to show you care about cleaner air:

Eat Lunch at Work: Many people think of “brown bagging” as a way to save money. Not as many realize that it’s also a great way to reduce air pollution. If you bring your lunch to work and eat it there, or if your office has a cafeteria and that’s where you buy lunch, you will reduce vehicle emissions by not driving to dine out or to pick something up. It may not seem like much, but if you work in the suburban metro area and typically drive 10 miles round trip for lunch, five days a week, eating at your office instead on those days would eliminate about 100 pounds of air pollution every week!

Take Mass Transit: The New York metro area has one of the most extensive mass transit systems in the country, which makes it easy to get around without a car and to reduce your carbon footprint. In 2008, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) joined the Climate Registry, a nonprofit that provides standards for measuring greenhouse gas emissions. It determined that for every unit of carbon emitted by New York’s mass transit system, more than eight units are saved because of reduced driving by transit riders. This is the equivalent of every person who takes transit driving a car that gets 100 miles per gallon!

Combine Multiple Errands into One Trip: Combining multiple errands into a single trip is a simple habit you can develop to reduce air pollution. First, doing all of your errands at once reduces the number of miles you drive because you don’t make multiple trips down the same road. Combining your errands also keeps your engine warm, which allows it to operate better and improves fuel efficiency. Not only does combining errands lead to improved air quality, it saves you time and money on gas, too!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Trick or Treat for Cleaner Air!

Carved Pumpkinsimage by Teo used under Creative Commons license

Happy Halloween! On the scariest holiday of the year, New Yorkers across the metro area will dress up in costumes and walk around their neighborhoods trick-or-treating. The phrase is actually a question for the person answering the door, who then has the choice of giving the visitor a treat or having the visitor play some kind of trick on the person. In the spirit of Halloween, we’re going to list three facts about air quality — can you guess which ones are tricks and which ones are treats?

#1: Small changes to my transportation behavior can have a big impact on improving air quality.

#2: New York’s only harmful air pollutant is ground-level ozone.

#3: There’s nothing wrong with topping off my gas tank to get the price to a round number and to ensure I get as much out of each trip to the gas station as possible.

Take a moment before reading on to guess which of the above statements are true (treats) and which are false (tricks)!


#1: TREAT! Small changes to your transportation habits can and do have a big effect on improving air quality. For example, in 2009 New Yorkers reduced air pollution by almost 8.5 million pounds every week just by doing simple things like taking mass transit, carpooling and combining multiple errands into one trip.

#2: TRICK! Although ground-level ozone is the cause for most days when air pollution is high, there is another form of air pollution that we need to be aware of called particulate matter. This matter has fine particles small enough to be absorbed by the body when you breathe them into your lungs; once inside the bloodstream, these particles can produce harmful effects on your health.

#3: TRICK! Topping off your gas tank, instead of stopping when the pump clicks, causes gasoline fumes to escape into the air where they turn into harmful air pollutants. You can go a long way to improving air quality just by stopping when you hear the gas pump “click!”

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Global Air Quality Comparison for United Nations Day

Country Flagsimage by MPD01605 used under Creative Commons license

October 24 marked the 66th anniversary of the United Nations, commonly known as “United Nations Day” around the world. To honor this day, let’s look at how two international cities are addressing the issue of air quality.

In the early 1990s, air pollution in Delhi, India, was becoming a serious problem. In response, India’s Ministry of Environments and Forests launched a plan to improve air quality and to significantly reduce pollution levels. Officials instituted a fleet of buses powered by compressed natural gas (CNG), implemented more stringent clean-fuel requirements and emission levels and even imposed a pollution tax. The results: From 1993 to 2000, ambient carbon monoxide was nearly cut in half and lead concentrations fell by 75 percent. As buses continued to be converted to CNG from 2000 to 2003, sulfur dioxide levels decreased by 34.8 percent and particulate matter levels fell by 7 percent. This led the U.S. Department of Energy to award Delhi the Clean Cities International Award in 2003 for its aggressive efforts in curbing pollution.

In the 1980s, Prague, Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic), was one of the most-polluted European cities. Since then, city leaders have enacted programs to decrease the usage of brown coal in power plants, which has significantly reduced sulfur dioxide levels. Now, similar to many urban areas, these officials face air-quality problems because of emissions from vehicle traffic. They have an emergency plan in place where, if air pollution rises above set limits, they stop traffic in the center of Prague to re-route polluting vehicles around the city and to force travelers to find alternate methods for traveling within Prague.

As you can see, air pollution in urban areas is a problem around the globe because of increases in vehicular travel. With so many transportation alternatives in the New York metro area, there are many options that are less polluting. Whenever possible, we encourage New Yorkers to take mass transit, carpool, bike or walk to their destinations to help reduce air pollution and to improve our own air quality.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Continue Watching for Air Quality Action Days this Autumn

Suitimage by D Sharon Pruitt used under Creative Commons license

Fall signals the peak period for ground-level ozone pollution has passed, but reducing New York’s air pollution requires effort year-round. Air Quality Action Days are most common during summer, but ground-level ozone and particulate matter can reach unhealthy levels at any time of the year. Clean Air NY wants to encourage you to continue taking action to improve air quality this fall.

One of the most effective ways for New Yorkers to reduce air pollution is to cut the time spent driving alone. Even if you do so only occasionally, taking alternate forms of transportation, such as mass transit, carpools and vanpools, goes a long way to lessen the many harmful pollutants entering our air from vehicle exhaust. If you have to drive alone, you can decrease the miles you drive by combining all of your errands into one trip and by bringing lunch to work.

If you don’t already get our Air Quality Action Day updates, which we send whenever air pollution is predicted to be high, sign up now! To receive these updates via text message, simply text the word “clean” to the number 42269. You also can follow Clean Air NY on our social media sites. “Like” our page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Whichever method you choose, signing up will alert you when air pollution will be at its highest levels and you will be able to take action to reduce pollution at the most critical times.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Make Your Boss Look Good To Honor National Boss Day

Suitimage by faramarz used under Creative Commons license

This year in the United States, National Boss Day was observed on Monday, Oct. 17. There’s probably no better gift than making your bosses look good to their own supervisors. In honor of the holiday, Clean Air NY encourages you to tell your bosses about the benefits of teleworking. You’ll enhance your bosses’ standing while you reduce air pollution.

Imagine if your bosses could tell their supervisors that they found a way to improve employee productivity and to reduce overhead costs at the same time. It would almost certainly make them stand out as people who are generating positive results for their companies. Numerous studies have all concluded that telework produces these results.

Employees who are able to telework on at least some of their workdays wind up rewarding their companies with improved performance and longer tenures. A meta-analysis of 46 telecommuting studies by the Journal of Applied Psychology “found that telecommuters reported more job satisfaction, less motivation to leave the company, less stress, improved work-family balance and higher performance ratings by supervisors.” Telework also saves the companies money by reducing overhead costs for employees who spend less time in the office. And best of all? Working from home means you’re not driving to the office and back, so you’re reducing emissions and improving air quality for everyone!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Support Cleaner Air and Your Local Farmer

Union Square Greenmarketimage by Barbara L. Hanson used under Creative Commons license

Eating locally grown food is a nutritious way to improve air quality in the New York metro area. Not only is locally grown food fresh, but it also reduces pollution because it doesn’t have to travel as far from the soil to your kitchen table. Food that is transported just a short distance before it is consumed reduces the amount of emissions from the vehicles used to carry them, leading to better air quality for everyone. This is why Clean Air NY will be touring numerous farmers’ markets this fall in New York City, on Long Island and in the Lower Hudson Valley. For more details and specific dates, visit our Facebook event and RSVP!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Eco-Friendly Travel Tips to New York’s Fall Sporting Events

Football, Baseball, Basketball and Ice Hockey Arenasimages used under Creative Commons license, credits below

Fall is a busy time for professional sports leagues. Major League Baseball is about to begin the playoffs, the National Football League has started its 2011-2012 season and the National Hockey League is in its pre-season and will start in early October. Depending on the outcome of labor negotiations, the National Basketball Association could start its season sometime this autumn. Many New Yorkers are traveling to cheer on their favorite teams now, so we want to provide you with some eco-friendly travel tips to help you reduce air pollution.

The best way to improve air quality is to avoid driving. If you have to drive, don’t drive alone. The easiest way to leave your car behind is by taking mass transit. The three main sports venues in New York City, Madison Square Garden, New Yankee Stadium and Citi Field, all have their own dedicated subway stops. Taking the train to the game is a snap. There are also convenient mass transit options for visiting arenas outside of the five boroughs. For a full list of mass transit directions to the region’s sports venues, check out our blog post, “Take the Train to the Game.”

If you’re going to drive to the game, you can minimize the amount of air pollution your trip creates. Carpooling is an effective way to cut emissions and expenses. Sharing a ride takes cars off the road and splits the cost of driving across multiple riders. Another way to prevent pollution while driving is to avoid idling. If you’re going to have a tailgate party before the game, don’t run your engine after your vehicle is parked.

Enjoy breathing cleaner air at the games, and let’s go Jets, Giants, Mets, Yankees, Knicks, Nets, Devils, Islanders and Rangers!

Photo Collage Credits:
Football Field (Top Left) by tedkerwin
Basketball Court (Top Right) by Jean Baptiste Bellet
Baseball Diamond (Bottom Left) by Rob Boudon
Hockey Rink (Bottom Right) by dougtone

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Get On Your Feet for Cleaner Air!

Hiking Pathimage by ScubaBear68 used under Creative Commons license

When you think of low-emission modes of transportation, walking and bicycling are two of the cleanest ways to get around. They’re good for the environment and offer exercise that is great for your own personal health. Before temperatures start dropping and being outdoors becomes less pleasant, Clean Air NY encourages you to get on your feet and enjoy some of the beautiful scenery New York has to offer by going for a hike or bike ride!

Here are some options to help you get started:

In New York City:
In the Lower Hudson Valley:
In Long Island:

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Let’s Talk About Telework

Home Officeimage by jnyemb used under Creative Commons license

Telework allows an employee to operate in a location outside his or her primary office, using telecommunication devices such as modems, phones and faxes to communicate. Technological innovations mean many people only require a computer, secure Internet connection and phone line to do their work; they can perform effectively anywhere they have access to these tools. If your job fits this description, consider discussing telework with your supervisor. There are considerable benefits for everyone and for our air quality.

Telework can help employers because it reduces overhead costs in the office and increases employee productivity as it can improve employee job satisfaction. Telework can assist employees in achieving a better balance between professional and personal lives, since most employees choose to telework from their homes. Whenever an employee teleworks, a round trip of commuting is eliminated, reducing air pollution from vehicle travel and saving the employee time. According to the United States Census Bureau, New York has the longest average commute of any state at 31.2 minutes; average New Yorkers would get more than an hour of extra time in their day whenever they telework.

Telework also is being embraced by the Federal government, which has set goals to increase participation among Federal employees. A February 2011 report by the United States Office of Personnel Management states:
“President Obama, the Congress, and OPM have all encouraged Federal agencies to expand their use of telework to ensure continuity of operations; find targeted productivity improvements and reduce overhead, real estate, environmental, and transit costs; and improve employees’ ability to manage their work and life obligations.”
If you want help setting up your own telework arrangement with your employer, 511NY Rideshare can help you create a personalized telework plan.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Thank You for Six Great Weeks in Bryant Park!

The sixth and final Broadway in Bryant Park event was held on Thursday, August 11. Now that we at Clean Air NY have had time to reflect, we think New Yorkers could not have spent their Thursday afternoons in a better way this summer! Each week, the crowds were huge and enthusiastic about their desire to do their part for cleaner air. We want to thank everyone who came to our tent to speak with us, especially the 1,000-plus New Yorkers who signed up to receive our updates when air pollution is expected to be high. If you were unable to sign up at the event, you can use our online signup form to have Air Quality Action Day updates sent to your inbox whenever air pollution is expected to be high.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Extra Credit for Cleaner Air

Whenever our Clean Air NY teams communicate with our network of individuals and employers, we often encounter people who are already helping to improve air quality and are looking for even more ways to take action. We encourage New Yorkers to look first at making changes to their transportation habits, such as carpooling, taking mass transit, teleworking and combining errands into one trip. However, if these changes aren’t workable for you at this time, or you already take alternate forms of transportation and want some “extra credit” to improve air quality further, here are more ideas that can really add up.
  • Don’t mow your lawn on Air Quality Action Days. First, sign up to receive alerts from Clean Air NY when air pollution is going to be high. When these days occur, postpone mowing your lawn until after the Air Quality Action Day has passed.
  • Don’t drive around looking for parking. If a parking lot is crowded, don’t drive around in circles looking for a close space. If you park your car at the first open spot and walk, you will cut down on extra driving and it probably won’t take you any longer to get inside. If you’re looking for street parking, check out our Community Partner Parking Auction to see how its app can help you find a spot without circling your block.
  • Refuel after dark. When you are refueling your vehicle, we often encourage you to stop at the “click” to prevent gasoline fumes from leaving your tank and entering the air. This is because the fumes get baked by the sun and turn into pollution. Refueling after dark adds an extra layer of protection because any fumes that do escape have time to dissipate before the sun comes out again.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Build Sandcastles that Protect Our Air: Take Transit to the Beach!

Few activities are more associated with summer than a day at the beach. Clean Air NY encourages New Yorkers to carpool whenever possible, and now is the perfect time to gather your friends for a shared ride down to the shore. There are circumstances, however, when friends are coming from different parts of the region and can’t meet in a central location beforehand. Others may not have a car and would have to rent or borrow one to drive. We want to offer another solution: Take mass transit!

Numerous beaches conveniently are accessible using the New York metro area’s extensive mass transportation network. Here are just some of the options available to take transit to the shore:

The Water Taxi Beach on Governor’s Island

Governor's Island This brand-new beach is just minutes from downtown Manhattan. It also has free admission and free transportation. If you live in the five boroughs, now you don’t even have to head to Long Island or New Jersey to put your toes in the sand. For more details, visit the website, or you can check out the similar beach in Queens.

Directions: Take the free Governor’s Island Ferry from Slip 7 at the Battery Maritime Building at the corner of South and Whitehall streets.

Long Beach

Long Beach Get to this Long Island beach using the Long Island Rail Road. You can get a special beach fare round-trip ticket for just $19; a beach pass is $10. Along with plenty of sun and sand, Long Beach has two miles of boardwalk for you to explore.

Directions: Take the LIRR to the Long Beach station. The beach is just a few blocks away.

Rockaway Beach

Rockaway Beach You can get to Rockaway Beach in Queens using the subway. It’s the largest urban beach in the United States; a $2.50 one-way subway fare will take you to the miles of shoreline and the boardwalk at Rockaway Beach.

Directions: Take the A train to Broad Channel and then transfer to the shuttle that will drop you off at any of a number of stops between 90th and 116th Beach streets.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

5:27 PM

The short film 5:27 P.M., Directed by Jeremiah Cowell, shows New York City’s streets during rush hour at 5:27 p.m. It artistically depicts how our transportation system and our environment are strained by excessive vehicular travel. These striking images serve as a reminder that improving air quality in the New York metro area is important, and that we can all contribute by finding ways to reduce our vehicular travel.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Science Behind Ground-Level Ozone

We at Clean Air NY continue to tell New Yorkers to help reduce ground-level ozone pollution, but what exactly is it and where does it come from?

Vehicular Air Pollution: What Is It and Where Does It Come From?
Motor vehicles play a major role in air pollution. They are the single largest contributor of the precursors of ground-level ozone, which is a significant urban pollutant. Ozone is created from burning fossil fuels and vehicle use and contributes to cardiovascular and respiratory problems.

Here's the Science
Motor vehicles generate three major pollutants: hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide.
  • Hydrocarbons react with nitrogen oxides in the presence of sunlight (ultraviolet radiation) to form ground-level ozone
  • Nitrogen oxides also help form acid rain.
  • Carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless, deadly gas, can impair mental and visual functions and have other negative effects at high levels of exposure.

Pollutants are released as a result of vehicle use when:
  • Fuel is burned in the internal combustion engine and the combustion products are emitted through the tailpipe.
  • Heat causes fuel to evaporate from under the hood and throughout the fuel system. Hot, sunny days and engines warmed by running provide heat to vaporize fuel into the air.
  • Cars refuel at service stations, where gasoline vapors escape into the air.

Ground-Level Ozone Pollution and Your Health
Short-term exposure to elevated levels of ozone can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, respiratory symptoms and decreases in lung function. The respiratory symptoms can include shortness of breath, chest pain and coughing. An increased risk of developing asthma has been found among students who likely experienced long-term elevated ozone exposure because they participated in athletic programs in areas with high ozone levels. (New York State Department of Health)

Elevated ozone levels mainly occur between May and September. It’s important to know when they happen, so be sure to sign up to receive Air Quality Action Day Updates from Clean Air NY by texting AIR to 42269 or by visiting CleanAirNY.org.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Win Free Metrocards from Clean Air NY this Summer!

Broadway Signsimage by Rambling Traveler (Stacy) used under Creative Commons license

Are you looking for something fun and free to do this summer? Join Clean Air NY and 106.7 Lite FM for Broadway in Bryant Park on Thursday afternoons, starting July 7 through Aug. 11! Each week in Bryant Park (behind the New York Public Library on 6th Avenue between 40th and 42nd street), from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., attendees can enjoy performances from the hottest shows on and off Broadway, including Hair, Jersey Boys, Rent, the Lion King, Avenue Q and Mamma Mia! We will be giving away great prizes each week, too!

Anyone who signs up to receive our Air Quality Action Day updates at Broadway in Bryant Park will be entered into a drawing. The grand prize each week is a one-month MetroCard. Two other winners will get front-row seats and free lunches at a future Broadway in Bryant Park event — so bring your friends and encourage them to sign up! On top of that, we are running a photo-tagging contest on our Facebook page. We’ll take your picture with our mascot and upload it to the Clean Air NY Facebook photo album – all you have to do is tag your picture you will be entered to win a $10 MetroCard. Check out some of the awesome pictures from previous events.

We hope to see you in Bryant Park this summer!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Share a Ride this Independence Day

Fireworksimage by digitizedchaos used under Creative Commons license

Every Fourth of July, we gather with friends and family across the country for festivities large and small. Unfortunately, many people will need to travel to their celebrations, placing greater demand on our transportation infrastructure and increasing the risk of higher air pollution levels, particularly because summer heats the skies.

When traveling during this patriotic holiday, Clean Air NY asks that you be mindful of your impact on New York’s air quality. Try to find someone to share a ride to your activities. Many people hosting parties and events create pages for them on Facebook, so it can be as easy as going to that page’s wall and writing a post to ask if anyone would like to split driving duties. If you’re the one throwing the party, you can make an event on Facebook and encourage your guests to share rides as well.

Another option is to use mass transit for at least part of your journey. See which train station is closest to your destination and get a ride from there to the event. Not only will this help improve the air quality, but instead of being caught in stressful holiday traffic, you can relax and leave the driving to someone else.

As always, if you have to drive, make sure you avoid idling and topping off your tank. Stop at the “click” to prevent gasoline fumes from escaping into the atmosphere.

Happy Independence Day!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

American Lung Association 2011 State of the Air Report Summary

The American Lung Association (ALA) releases a report every year called the State of the Air Report, which collects air quality data from across the country and breaks down the important trends. You can read the entire ALA 2011 State of the Air Report online, but here are some of the key findings:
  • The strongest improvement came in reducing ozone smog levels across the nation. More than half of the country’s most smog-polluted cities (including New York) experienced their best year yet. All metro areas in the 25 cities listed as most polluted by ozone showed improvement over last year’s report.
  • All but two of the 25 cities listed as most polluted by year-round levels of particle pollution (sometimes called soot) improved over last year’s report. Nineteen of those cities (including New York) reported their best-ever particle pollution levels.
  • Out of 277 metropolitan areas New York ranked:
    • 17th for high ozone days
    • 33rd for 24-hour particle pollution
    • 21st for annual particle pollution

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Cleaning the Air for Dad

With Father’s Day arriving soon, we wanted to give you some ideas for gifts and activities you can do with your dad that will also improve air quality.

For gift ideas, here are a few suggestions if your dad’s a car guy: Get him a new air filter, oil filter and partially recycled oil. A well-maintained vehicle produces far fewer emissions. If you want to do even more, offer to install everything for him and pump up his tires while you’re at it! If he loves to be outdoors, get him a new pair of active footwear. Whether you run, hike or rollerblade together, you’ll both need the proper gear. This gift provides more benefits, good health as the two of you stay in shape and cleaner air for all as you reduce your carbon footprint together.

Another activity to share on Father’s Day or at any time when you’re out: If a mall or entertainment venue appears really crowded, don’t drive around in circles looking for a closer space. If you park your car at the first open spot and walk, you will cut down on extra driving and it probably won’t take you any longer to get inside. Finally, take a bike trip across some of New York’s beautiful bike trails. Use 511NY to search for bicycle routes by geographic location, and enjoy our gorgeous state of New York!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Clean Air NY Champions Recognized During Earth Month

Champion Ad

Clean Air NY honored local businesses last month at the Brooklyn Business Expo, Expos Your Business Long Island and IBM Poughkeepsie’s Earth Day Event. The 10 downstate Clean Air NY Champions were chosen for their commitment to improving air quality by reducing employees’ car trips. Automobile exhaust is a major contributor to ozone and particle pollution.

The awards ceremonies were conducted throughout Earth Month. Clean Air NY’s message to all employers was to encourage action against poor air quality in New York. According to the American Lung Association, 65 percent of New York State residents live in counties where air pollution levels can endanger lives.

Organizations recognized as Clean Air NY Champions include:
  • The College of Staten Island (CSI) - For a free carpool matching service for students, faculty and staff, offering a free shuttle bus and pre-tax transit benefits to employees.
  • Emmis Communications - For promoting its commuter tax benefit and planning a carpool matching system for its employees.
  • Grand Hyatt, New York - For installing bike racks that encouraged more than 20 employees to bike to work.
  • The Hagedorn Little Village School - For providing e-mail addresses to employees who were interested in registering for an incentive-based ridematching network.
  • Helios Energy Systems - For implementing a carpool program in which 20 percent of its employees have agreed to participate at least twice a week.
  • IBM Poughkeepsie - For promoting alternate commuting options for all site employees including: IBMRide, an internal car/vanpool matching service that includes preferred parking and emergency ride home services for those who participate and a work-at-home employee program.
  • The New York Power Authority (NYPA) - For implementing a flex-time schedule for a compressed workweek and offering preferred parking to electric-vehicle and vanpool drivers.
  • Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Center - For installing a shower and covered bike racks that encourage employees to bike to work instead of driving vehicles.
  • Underwriters Laboratory - For providing lunch on Air Quality Action Days and offering incentives for employees to carpool, take the bus or bike to work.
  • Voila Bakeries - For promoting its commuter tax benefit to all employees.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Memorial Day Travel Tips for Cleaner Air

Memorial Day signals the unofficial kickoff of summer in the United States, with many people having a day off on Monday to commemorate the holiday. Whether you’re traveling to the beach or the barbecue this weekend, it’s always a good time to make travel choices that benefit our air quality.

If you and your friends and family are all traveling to the same vacation destination together, it’s a great opportunity to share a ride and to save money, too. Splitting the cost of parking and fuel among multiple riders will reduce the cost of your trip significantly, especially with soaring gas prices. More carpools will reduce the number of cars heading to recreational areas, thus alleviating congestion and pollution.

While you’re carpooling to and from your vacation spot, don’t forget to stop filling your gas tank when you hear the pump “click.” If you keep trying to top off the tank after the click, fumes will escape into the atmosphere instead of remaining safely in the tank.

Also remember before you leave, fill your tires and check that every part of your car is in good condition. A well-maintained vehicle gets much better gas mileage, produces fewer emissions and helps ensure that you aren’t on the shoulder of the highway waiting for a tow truck instead of lying on the beach!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Create Your Air Quality Action Day Plan Now

Air Quality Action Day Image

If you don’t already get our e-mail updates on Air Quality Action Days, sign up now and then keep reading. Otherwise, you won’t know when to put your Air Quality Action Day plan into action!

Air Quality Action Days occur when the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation declares that the air quality will be unhealthy for sensitive groups such as children, people with asthma and the elderly. On these days, we ask that Clean Air NY supporters be especially mindful of their travel choices and we send out updates on these days to alert people to take action.

We know it’s hard to change your daily routine, especially on short notice. That’s why we want to encourage you to create an action plan to help reduce air pollution during Air Quality Action Days. They can happen any time during the year and are sometimes unpredictable; having a plan in place ensures you’re ready, no matter when the Air Quality Action Day announcement is made.

There are two main ways to help reduce air pollution and to improve air quality on Air Quality Action Days:

1. Decrease your driving
  • Bike, Walk, or Take Mass Transit
  • Carpool
  • Combine Multiple Errands into One Trip
  • Eat Lunch In
2. Ensure your vehicle is doing its part to reduce emissions. Sometimes driving on an Air Quality Action Day is inevitable. If you have to drive, do these to minmize the impact:
  • Stop At the Click - Don’t Top Off Tank
  • Avoid Idling
For more suggestions on actions you can take on Air Quality Action Day, and to download our free worksheet to help you create your own customized plan of action, visit our Web site!

Monday, May 9, 2011

May is Bike Month in NYC

The New York City Department of Transportation and Transportation Alternatives are encouraging everyone to join in their annual monthlong celebration of biking in the five boroughs in May. Bike Month NYC began in 1990 as a one-day event encouraging cyclists to bike to work. It grew from there to become a weeklong and then a monthlong series of activities that showcase bicycling in NYC and the tri-state region. Events include fixing flat tires, bike tours of different neighborhoods, classes for beginners and more; whatever your skill level, there is something for you.

On an average day, 236,000 New Yorkers ride their bikes, more than twice the number who did so just five years ago. People who begin riding their bikes to work also lose an average of 13 pounds during the first year! For more information about the health benefits of biking and how it relates to improving air quality, read our blog post “Break Out Your Bike and Walking Shoes.”

Monday, May 2, 2011

Air Quality Awareness Week

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Weather Service declared the week of May 2 Air Quality Awareness Week.

Check out this website here for answers to basic air quality questions including –
  • What is air pollution?
  • What affects my air quality?
  • How do I keep my lungs and heart safe?
  • How to get current air quality information?
  • What can I do to help make the air cleaner?
You can learn even more about your local air quality on Clean Air NY’s website here.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Break Out Your Bike and Walking Shoes

Bike Laneimage by Spencer T. used under Creative Commons license

The temperatures are rising, the sun is shining and spring is in the air. It’s time for walking and biking and all the benefits they bring, including improving both the air quality and your health.

Nearly 27 percent of New Yorkers ages 18 and older do not get the amount of weekly exercise that the Center for Disease Control recommends. One common excuse: “It’s too hard to find the time.” Well, Clean Air NY has the solution! If you start biking or walking to work, you will get your exercise by doing something you have to do anyway – commuting! Not only will the exercise help you live a healthier life, but choosing these alternate forms of travel over driving will improve New York’s air quality, providing additional health benefits for everyone.

Biking to work is gaining popularity, especially in New York City! The number of people commuting by bicycle has risen 109 percent in the past four years. People who commute by bike also lose an average of 13 pounds during their first year – that’s more than a pound per month just going to work every day! Bike commuter Andrew Breck says, “I find that my five-mile bike ride to work is a great opportunity to breathe fresh air and give my heart a workout in the same amount of time that it would take me to get to work sitting on the crowded subway. Commuting by bike also saves me $100 on a monthly transit pass and another $100 on a monthly gym membership.”

Walking to work can be difficult to do, especially if you do not live close to your office. Clean Air NY recommends that you incorporate walking into your daily routine in other ways to reap the health benefits. Choose the stairs instead of the elevator, go for a stroll to pick up lunch or take an evening walk with a friend for some fresh air.

The best part? Whether you choose to bike or walk to work, they are both great for you and your environment!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Earth Day Has Dawned: How Are You Celebrating?

Our calendars salute April 22 as Earth Day! What can you do to commemorate the annual global event? Visit Clean Air NY at Earth Day NY’s EarthFair Outdoors at Grand Central Terminal today (4/22) and tomorrow (4/23) to meet Fresh, the Clean Air NY cloud mascot.

Clean Air NY has two new, simple ways for you to commemorate the day and to improve New York’s air quality. Join thousands of New Yorkers who are already making a difference in our air quality:
  • Idea #1: Commit to cleaner air! Click here to pledge your support to reducing traffic congestion and to creating cleaner, healthier air. Watch our YouTube Video to see who has already committed to cleaner air.

  • Idea #2: Measure your carbon footprint! Do you know how much carbon dioxide you and your family produces each year? Use this carbon emissions calculator to calculate your carbon footprint and to receive recommendations on how you can reduce those emissions with your own actions.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Clean Air NY Events for Earth Month

The first full week of April brings forth a celebration of Earth Month! Clean Air NY will participate in a bunch of Earth Month events about sustainability and environmental awareness. Here are some highlights, but we encourage you to visit the events section of our website for the full list!

Marist College Sustainability Day

April 14, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. – This will be Clean Air NY’s first time at Marist College’s Sustainability Day, and we’re excited to participate in its Earth Day activities this year. Sustainability Day will feature events focusing on environmental sustainability issues, including workshops, panel discussions, films, exhibits and keynote speakers. This year’s focus is “Sustainability…from ideas to action,” and the theme of how new ideas related to sustainability can make the transition from concept to reality will be highlighted throughout the day’s events.

Earth Day NY

April 22, 12 noon to 7 p.m., and April 23, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. – For four years, Clean Air NY has participated in Earth Day NY’s EarthFair at Grand Central, the biggest Earth Day celebration in New York City. This two-day festival of art, music and the environment is on Vanderbilt Avenue. Clean Air NY and our mascot, Fresh, are proud to join this celebration once again!

SUNY Stony Brook’s Earth Stock

April 29, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. – SUNY Stony Brook, a Clean Air NY Campus, has invited Clean Air NY back for the third year to participate in its annual Earth Stock event. Environmental organizations, other participants with an earth-friendly message and local schools will celebrate on the Academic Mall at the campus.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Money-Saving Commuter Tax Benefits

The current economic climate prompts us all to find more ways to save money. Your employers may offer a solution that is often overlooked. A pretax commuter benefit program can help you pay for your daily commute – whether you’re a vanpooler, cyclist or mass transit rider - and can save you a good chunk of change.

A commuter benefit program allows you to pay for your commute through a pretax payroll deduction up to the monthly Internal Revenue Service (IRS) limit of $230. If you use public transportation or a vanpool, you can purchase your fare on a tax-free basis up to the monthly IRS limit. Any costs exceeding the IRS limit are typically deducted from your paycheck on an after-tax basis. This pretax benefit can save you more than $1,000 a year.

As of January 2009, the IRS now offers a subsidy for the most environmentally friendly commute option – bicycling. If you are an avid cyclist (bike to work three to four times a week), you are eligible to participate in an after-tax reimbursement program for approved items that support the maintenance and upkeep of your bicycle. This can include a commuter bicycle, bike lock, helmet and bike parking facilities, among other items. Reimbursements are up to $25 a month and are usually reimbursed on a quarterly basis. Keep in mind, though, the bicycle subsidy benefit cannot be combined with the pretax commuter benefit.

Tax-free commuter benefits are only available to commuters through your employers, so ask your employers if they offer such a benefit. It’s easy for your employers: All they have to do is enroll in a pre-tax benefit program. Click here to find out more information that you can share with your employers.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

With Telework, Everyone Wins

In recent years, the number of people who telework at least part-time has increased significantly. According to a survey by the National Small Business Association, telework has increased from 19 percent of employees in 2007 to 44 percent in 2010. If the term is new to you, telework (or telecommuting) involves using telecommunication devices, such as a phone, fax, computer and modem, to work outside the traditional office.

In the modern workplace, many professionals only need a secure Internet connection and a phone to do their jobs. Obviously, some tasks cannot be done off-site, but if your profession is one that permits telework, then talk to your supervisor. There are undeniable benefits for everyone.

The Employer:

As a business owner, what would you say if someone showed you how to significantly reduce your operating costs while simultaneously increasing productivity? You’d probably think it was a fairy tale – but it’s not. It’s telework. Multiple studies now confirm that employees are more productive when teleworking; with fewer employees in the office, the employer saves money on heat, electricity and other expenses.

The Employee:

An employee who teleworks, even part-time, will significantly reduce the amount of time and money spent commuting to and from work. The employee will gain a better balance between the job and life outside of work. Time that was previously consumed by a daily commute can now be spent with families and friends, making the employee happier.


Not only is teleworking good for the employee and the employer, it benefits the general public because of its positive effect on air quality. A 2010 study by the Telework Research Network found that if 41 million U.S. residents worked from home half of the time, oil imports could be cut by 37 percent and greenhouse gas emissions by 53 million metric tons a year. That’s equivalent to taking nearly 10 million cars off the road.

If you think telework is appropriate for your job but aren’t sure how to discuss it with your employer, 511NYRideshare can help. And if you have a telecommuting success story, share it with us in the comments below or on our Facebook page!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Drivers Can Improve Air Quality, Too

Gas Pumpimage by Indy Charlie used under Creative Commons license

Is giving up your car altogether unrealistic for you? Good news! There are still actions you can take to reduce the environmental impact when you have to drive.

1. Maintain Your Vehicle

A well-maintained vehicle produces 20 percent less greenhouse gas emissions, has better fuel economy and retains its value longer. Just keeping your tires properly inflated can save around $75 each year. Other items to check regularly include your air filter, vacuum and coolant hoses, oil, and oil filter. Check your vehicle’s owner’s manual for recommended maintenance intervals. Have your car adjusted by a skilled technician when necessary.

2. Don’t Top Off the Tank – Stop at the Click

Gas pumps are intentionally designed to stop filling your vehicle’s tank before it’s entirely full. The pump stops with a click when there is just enough extra space in the tank for the gasoline fumes to remain inside instead of escaping into the air. If you “top off” your tank, these fumes end up in the atmosphere. Stopping at the click is a simple habit that goes a long way in reducing air pollution.

3. Cut Back On Idling

Every year, the average driver wastes more than a full tank of gas (24.5 gallons) idling a vehicle. Cutting the average idling time in half would prevent more than 235 pounds of carbon dioxide per person from being released into our atmosphere every year! If you’re going to be idling your vehicle’s engine for more than 30 seconds, it is more fuel efficient to turn your engine off. In fact, idling your vehicle for 30 seconds or longer uses more fuel than restarting your engine. Avoid idling; not only will you save gas and money, but you’ll help keep our air cleaner.

4. Combine Errands into One Trip

Combining multiple errands into one trip is an effective way to make the most of your time and to improve air quality. Your engine operates more efficiently when it’s warm, so you can reduce emissions and save gas by taking care of all your errands in a single trip.

For more tips on improving New York’s air quality, visit www.CleanAirNY.org.

Monday, February 28, 2011


Do you want to win four FREE ice skating tickets?
Just follow Clean Air NY’s social network profiles & you’re automatically entered to win!

This contest was so successful for us over the past two weeks that we have decided to extend it for another two weeks! Start following Clean Air NY NOW and you could win TONIGHT! Every day from now until March 14th we are picking one of our new friends to win four free tickets to ice skate in Central Park – it could be you! What are you waiting for? Add Clean Air NY now!

Friend us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter

Each day we’ll pick one person at random from all of our new fans on both Facebook and Twitter, so add us on both networks and double your chances at winning!

Good luck everyone, and thank you so much for supporting Clean Air NY!


Help us promote this contest and you could earn even more tickets! Just write a tweet encouraging your friends to follow Clean Air NY on Twitter, and we’ll pick two of our helpers to each win five tickets at the end of the contest.

One example would be “CONTEST: follow @CleanAirNY & u could win 4 tix for ice skating at Wollman Rink! http://www.bit.ly/fi109rf (Pls RT!)” Just make sure you @Mention us in your update so we see it. We will count one promotional tweet per person per day, so tweet about our contest often and increase your chances of winning!

*Tickets are good for free admission and skate rental at Wollman Rink, and are valid through April 3, 2011.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Use 511NY.org and Make the Most of Public Transit this Presidents Day

Subway Entrance
image by Joe Shlabotnik used under Creative Commons license

On Feb. 21, we celebrate Presidents Day, a federal holiday commemorating the birthdays of our first and 16th presidents - George Washington and Abraham Lincoln - respectively. As Presidents Day approaches, we may wonder what life was like when those leaders were alive.

Technology has improved immensely since the 18th and 19th centuries, including transportation. When Washington led our nation, people and goods traveled on land by horse-drawn wagons, coaches and carriages. Oxen and mules also pulled wagons and carts, loaded with goods and personal property from one destination to the other. In Lincoln’s time, new ways to travel were developing, such as trains and ferries, and the Erie Canal was thriving. Today, we have countless forms of land transportation, including public transit, which is available to all citizens.

This Presidents Day, in addition to taking advantage of any special events, make the most of public transit – take the bus, train, subway or ferry to explore the stores around the region! Visit 511NY.org to plan your trip or to check out real-time transit conditions. 511NY also has a new mobile app: click here to find out more information on how to download it onto your smartphone.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Do you want to win four FREE ice skating tickets?
Just follow Clean Air NY’s social network profiles & you’re automatically entered to win!

Start following Clean Air NY NOW and you could win TONIGHT! Every day from now until February 28th we are picking one of our new friends to win four free tickets to ice skate in Central Park – it could be you! What are you waiting for? Add Clean Air NY now!

Friend us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter

Each day we’ll pick one person at random from all of our new fans on both Facebook and Twitter, so add us on both networks and double your chances at winning!

Good luck everyone, and thank you so much for supporting Clean Air NY!

*Tickets are good for free admission and skate rental at Wollman Rink, and are valid through April 3, 2011.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Six Ways to Say “I Love You” And Clean Our Air

image by Sister72 used under Creative Commons license

Valentine’s Day is a great time to show your love for our planet as well as the special people in your life. Below are six great ways to celebrate the day and to reduce New York’s air pollution at the same time.

Looking for eco-gift suggestions?

1. When buying cards and gifts for your loved ones, make a list prior to shopping. If you plan ahead, you’ll only have to make one trip to the card store and gift shop. Combining these trips reduces emissions from your car.

2. Want to help your special someone clean up the air? What about a new bike? If that’s beyond your budget, what about a bike lock or pedometer?

3. Telecommute on Monday, February 14, to stay close to your loved ones.

Need eco-friendly date ideas?

4. Take your significant other to Grand Central Terminal. It’s a beautiful, romantic and historic New York City landmark, plus you can get there and back with a plethora of public transit options - train, bus or subway!

5. Go sledding, cross-country skiing or snowshoeing in a park! They are fun activities, plus you won’t be contributing to poorer air quality.

6. Make a dinner reservation at a local restaurant specializing in organic or locally grown food. Eating locally cuts down on food miles.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

More Tips for Improving Winter Air Quality – Regardless of the Groundhog’s Prediction!

image by Matt MacGillivray used under Creative Commons license

Happy Groundhog Day! Last week, we posted tips for travelers about how to improve air quality during winter. This week, we highlight three year-round activities that are especially helpful in colder months.

1. Sign Up For Air Quality Action Day Updates

Even though most of our Air Quality Action Days occur during summer when ozone levels often are high, Air Quality Action Days can – and do – happen all year. In fact, we had two in December 2010. Make sure you sign up for our updates so you can make smart, healthy and environmentally friendly travel choices whenever an Air Quality Action Day occurs.

2. Combine Multiple Errands into One Trip

Navigate intelligently and combine multiple errands into one trip. That’s a routine you can practice year-round. As you help reduce air pollution, you also save valuable time and money on gas. Doing consecutive errands keeps your engine warm, so your car will operate more efficiently. This is particularly effective during the winter, when cold temperatures cause your engine to cool off faster.

3. Don’t Idle

Being diligent about this tip every day helps improve our air quality and is especially important during the winter. This time of year, many people start their car engines and let them idle for several minutes to warm up the cars. Even though driving in a cold car can be unpleasant, you can improve air quality and save money on gas by not letting your vehicles idle. In fact, an idling car engine can waste around 24.5 gallons (more than a full tank of gas!) each year.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Do you want to win a pair of FREE ice skating tickets?
Enter the “I Support Clean Air NY” contest to win!

Note: There will be separate drawings for Facebook and Twitter, so enter them both and double your chances at winning!

Here’s how it works for Twitter users:

To enter, simply post a tweet that begins “I support @Clean Air NY by…” and then finish it with something you’ve done to improve the air quality. That’s it! And if you want to start following our tweets, that would be awesome too!

Here’s how it works for Facebook users:

To enter, just write a status update that begins “I support @Clean Air NY by…” and then finish it with something you’ve done to improve the air quality. That’s it! You just have to make sure of two things so that your status will show up on our wall and we will know to count your entry. First, make sure we’re tagged in the update (you have to "like" our Facebook page for this to work), and second, make sure you share your status with "Everyone" using the small lock on the bottom right of the status update menu. Unfortunately this is the only way for us to guarantee that we can see your status update, so just make sure you follow those two steps. If you need help tagging us, check out this tutorial.

Both contests will end on Monday 2/14/11 at 11:59pm ET. After that, we will randomly choose 15 total winners from both Facebook and Twitter to each receive a pair of tickets to Wollman Rink good for free admission and skate rental, as well as vouchers for food and drinks. These tickets will expire April 3rd, 2011.

That’s it! Good luck everyone, and thank you so much for supporting Clean Air NY!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Winter Commuting: Cleaner Than a Car and Just as Warm

Snowed In Car
image by AMagill used under Creative Commons license

Winter’s cold temperatures sometimes prompt New Yorkers to take to their cars for commuting. Walking or biking to and from work can be unpleasant during this season, so people may choose the protection and warmth of their vehicles instead of alternate forms of transportation that offer the same virtues but are better for our air quality. We wanted to share with you a few of these options with the hope that, once you see how easy it is to switch, you’ll wind up driving your car less frequently.

1. Take Mass Transit

For those commuters who bike or walk to work during the warmer months, taking mass transit is a great option for the winter. If your office is near your home, you likely live in a more urban location and have many mass transit options. Biking or walking when it’s warm and taking mass transit when it’s cold could save you more than $13,000 a year in car-related expenses and can help reduce air pollution.

2. Carpool

If you must drive your car to and from work during winter, invite a few neighbors to ride with you if they work near your office, or share your car with co-workers you can pick up and drop off along the way each day. 511NYRideshare can help you set up your carpool and will introduce you to all the great benefits available to carpoolers. Carpooling is the perfect compromise because you get the benefits of riding in a car while reducing the number of vehicles on the road and, thus, the amount of air pollution generated.

3. Telecommute

Telecommuting is a great way to improve our air quality and it protects you during winter storms. Staying home is always the safest option at such times, so talk to your boss about whether telecommuting is a viable choice. Creating an emergency plan to work from home will keep you safer during winter and can keep you healthier during warmer months when Air Quality Action Days occur. Sign up to receive our Air Quality Action Day updates and you’ll be ready to telecommute when they are announced.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Brief History of Air Quality Regulations

1963 Car
image by Collector Car Ads used under Creative Commons license

Most of the articles we write on this blog are focused on how to improve air quality in the New York metro area now and in the future. This week, we provide some perspective on how we got to where we are in these endeavors.

Our country’s major legislative efforts to clean our air started more than 50 years ago. The Air Pollution Control Act of 1955 was the federal government‘s first attempt to control air pollution at its source. It funded research and helped to put a bigger spotlight on poor air quality as a national issue.

In 1963, the federal Clean Air Act was signed into law. It was the first piece of legislation to use the “Clean Air” title, and paved the way for other legislation to reduce pollution by motor vehicles. In 1965, the Motor Vehicle Air Pollution Control Act was enacted as an amendment to the Clean Air Act. This amendment set federal standards for vehicle emissions for the first time; it sought a 72 percent reduction in hydrocarbons, 56 percent reduction in carbon monoxide and 100 percent reduction in crankcase hydrocarbons from their levels in 1963.

Since then, the Clean Air Act regulations have been credited with saving 11,700 lives from carbon monoxide-related premature deaths, according to a 2002 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Additional laws have addressed concerns about particulate matter, ground-level ozone and blood-lead levels, as the nation strives to provide cleaner air for everyone. At Clean Air NY, we believe that everyone can contribute by making small changes to everyday transportation choices. To learn more and to make your commitment to help improve our air quality, visit CleanAirNY.org.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

10 New Year’s Resolutions For Cleaner Air

If you’re a little late in making your New Year’s resolution and looking for some inspiration, we’ve got 10 environmentally friendly ideas for you that will help improve our air quality.

1. Don’t Top Off the Tank – Stop at the Click

Many people may not know that gas pumps are designed to stop filling the tank before they are entirely full for a reason. The pump stops with a click so there is enough headroom for the fumes from the gasoline to remain inside the gas tank instead of escaping out into the air. When you top off your tank, these fumes have nowhere else to go and are released into the atmosphere where they are baked by the sun and become pollutants. Stopping at the click is a very simple habit to adopt that will go a long way in reducing air pollution.

2. Combine Multiple Errands into One Trip

It may surprise you that something as simple as doing all your errands in one big trip, instead of multiple smaller trips, can improve our air quality significantly. You will help reduce air pollution from driving and save valuable time and money on gas. If you combine errands you drive fewer miles compared to taking multiple shorter trips. You spend less time driving and use less gas to get to your destinations. In addition, your car works more efficiently when the engine is warm. By doing consecutive errands, your engine will stay warm and your car will operate better than it would from a cold start.

3. Fill Your Gas Tank at Night

In the spirit of our first New Year’s Resolution on this list, if you fill up your gas tank at night, you further reduce the risk that gasoline fumes will leak into the air, get baked by the sun and become pollutants. No matter how careful you are, there is always the risk of fumes entering the air.

4. Take Mass Transit

Most people know mass transit is cheaper and better for the environment than driving, but few actually realize how much better it is and the huge amount of money they could save each year by ditching their car. Each year, an individual can achieve an average annual savings of more than $13,000 by taking public transportation instead of driving and by living with one less car. Each year, mass transit reduces carbon dioxide emissions by roughly the same amount as if the power was turned off to half the houses in New York State! That’s 37 million metric tons and 4.9 million houses per year, for those of you keeping track.

5. Join a Carpool/Vanpool

Holiday House LightsCarpooling is another great way to reduce your commute’s negative impact on air quality. Thanks to some great resources from 511NYRideshare, you don’t have to ride with a complete stranger or worry about being stranded if your ride home has an emergency. There is an online ridematching service to help you connect with other people in your area looking to carpool. Also, if your ride can’t pick you up, you can take a cab home and be reimbursed for your full fare, including gratuity. Carpooling also helps the environment. If one out of every 10 commuters in the New York metro area carpooled instead of driving just once a week, emissions of ozone precursors would be reduced by about 5,100 tons (the weight of an entire battleship) every week.

6. Ride Your Bike

Riding your bike is a great alternative to driving short distances and is great for your health and well-being. You will be making an effort to improve our air quality and you’ll improve your health. When billionaire Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, was asked how to be more productive, his answer was, “Work out.” He said exercise gave him at least four more productive hours per day. Obviously, bicycling is weather dependent, so it’s smart to have a backup plan for those cold, rainy days.

7. Telecommute

If you want to do something that’s good for your own safety as well as our air quality, consider setting up a telecommuting arrangement with your employer. If you can work from home, you’ll avoid the potential problems that come with winter weather now; you can also work from home on Air Quality Action Days (sign up for our updates!) when the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation predicts air quality will be in the unhealthy range. Telecommuting can help reduce pollution and benefits employers. Studies have shown employees who telecommute take fewer sick days and show significantly increased productivity.

8. Work a Compressed Week

Many employers now offer the option of working a compressed week. Instead of working five eight-hour days each week, employees can work four 10-hour days and have an extra day off. Such an arrangement gives employees more time to spend with their children, friends and families, and eliminates one round trip of commuting each week.

9. Maintain Your Vehicle

Looking for more ways to save money and to improve the air quality? Here’s another great tip — always keep your car tuned up and the tires properly inflated. A well-maintained vehicle produces 20 percent less ozone-related emissions, saves money on gas, and reduces traffic congestion from breakdowns. Properly inflated tires can save you around $75 each year.

10. Cut Back On Idling

Do you know how much gas you waste each year by allowing your engine to idle? It’s a lot: 24.5 gallons of gas a year, on average. That’s more than a full tank of gas for most cars. Cutting back on idling is like getting a free tank of gas each year, and it’s good for our air quality, too. If you’re going to be idling for more than 30 seconds, it is more fuel-efficient to turn your engine off. In fact, idling for 30 seconds or more uses more fuel than restarting your engine.