In the last decade, New York City has emerged as a leader in the urban green movement, regularly ranking among the top green cities in the world. With an extensive public transportation system, a brand-new Citi-bike program and a walkable commute, finding a way to go green is easy in the Big Apple.
Known as a city where garage rates can rival the cost of apartment rentals in other cities and public transportation runs 24/7/365 days of the year, it is not surprising that New York City residents own far fewer cars than the rest of America. In fact, while 95 percent of households own a car nationwide, according to a 2013 EcoSalon report, only 44 percent of New Yorkers do.
Yet, it would likely surprise anyone who has crammed into an overcrowded rush hour train that, according to same report, only 37 percent of New Yorkers walk, bike or rely on public transportation to get to work each day.
That number is likely to increase in the coming years as the number of green transportation options in the city continues to expand. Even today, with the largest electric bus fleet in the world and a number of carbon emission-saving options, finding a way to make your commute greener has never been easier.
MTA Subways and Buses
On an average weekday, over 5 million New Yorkers and visitors swipe their MetroCards at one of the MTA’s 468 subway stations throughout the city and another 400,000 ride on one of over 300 buses that criss-cross all five boroughs and offer a convenient way to link up to transportation hubs. This vast, heavily used network of transit options and easy access to public transportation helped earned New York City the top marks by WalkScore, which ranks large cities on how easy it is to get around without a car.
Taking subways and buses also helps reduce New York City’s net carbon emissions. Each public transportation ride is estimated to reduce greenhouse gas emission by 10 pounds, racking up 100 pounds of savings per week for each commuter who ditches their own cars and chooses public transportation instead.
Launched this year, the city’s Citi-Bike program offers bike riders in Manhattan and Brooklyn an easy-to-use bike share program that makes it convenient to take your bike to work or to run errands around the city. The popular program has already logged over 8.5 million miles of rides in the city, helping to reduce New York’s carbon imprint and keep New Yorkers in shape.
Before deciding if a Citi-Bike membership is right for you, New Yorkers can test out a bike with a day pass, which costs just less than $10 for 24 hours. There is no need to return your bike to the same location. For one-way trips, you can pick up your bike anywhere and drop it off close to your final destination. For avid bikers, a one-year membership is available which will allow you unlimited access to bikes anytime you want.
For times when you absolutely must take a car, OZOcar offers the largest fleet of low-emission vehicles in the New York metropolitan area at reasonable rates. The hybrid vehicles are just like any other New York City car service with one notable exception, the green cars use “70 percent less fuel than conventional Lincoln Towncars and emit 90 percent fewer carbon-forming emissions.” The service offers a variety of programs, ranging from opening a regular account to hiring for a few hours to pick up a bulky purchase or run errands requiring wheels.
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Tamar Auber is a freelance writer whose work can be found on Examiner.com.