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Posts from the ‘Green Transportation’ Category

Join the Clear the Air Challenge 2020

Are you ready for a new challenge? How about one that will help you save money, burn calories, and improve our air quality? Salt Lake City employees are already on board and want to invite you to join the 2020 Clear the Air Challenge. During the month of February, keep our air clear of pollutants by limiting your driving!

You can aim to reduce your “driving-alone” trips every day in February, or pick a goal that’s manageable for you. It all helps!

If you don’t have a team and want to challenge yourself, please join the Clear the Air Challenge SLCgreen Team!

What is the Clear the Air Challenge?

Since 2009, Utahns have been participating in the month-long Clear the Air Challenge. During February, when air quality in Utah is historically bad, participants track their trips with the goal of avoiding single-occupancy vehicle travel and reducing air pollution. Participants carpool, bike, walk, telecommute, trip chain, take public transit, drive electric vehicles, and ride electric bikes or scooters– all to help clear the air!

In 2019, participants in the Clear the Air Challenge eliminated 84,421 single-occupancy vehicle trips. This saved 1,244,624 miles of traveling and $0.4 Million! Together, all these efforts reduced 359.8 tons of CO2!

This year, the Clean the Air Challenge needs everyone’s help to reach the goal of eliminating 100,000 single-occupant trips.  

Clear the Air to Protect Our Health

Winters in Utah can be beautiful, but when inversion starts, polluted air gets caught in our valleys. PM 2.5 and other pollutants threaten our health the well-being of our communities.

On bad air days, our activity is limited. Moreover, children, older adults, and people with heart diseases or respiratory problems are at a higher risk for suffering from poorer health due to bad air. Poor air quality is associated with a range of negative impacts including pregnancy losspremature deathchild asthma, and increased cases of pneumonia.

In Salt Lake City, nearly 50% of air pollution comes from cars, trucks, and other vehicles. That’s why the Clear the Air Challenge is more important than ever.

We love it when the air is clear!

What We’re Doing

Salt Lake City Corporation employees are already signing up to do their part to Clear the Air this year (see our previous Challenge roundup).

Each participating department has its own team. Salt Lake City employees live all over the Wasatch Front. Many of us take public transit to work every day. Others carpool or bike. For the month of February, we’re doing all we can to cut back on our single occupancy car rides!

Salt Lake City departments compete with each other for the coveted Clear the Air Challenge “Mayor’s Cup” and “SLCgreen Team Spirit” award.
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Thanks to the recent public transit expansions, the robust network of bike paths for the sunny days, as well as the Clear the Air Challenge app’s handy carpool guide, the Clear the Air Challenge will make February an exciting and competitive month!

Join SLCgreen’s Clear the Air Challenge Team

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Clearing the air is easier than ever

Winter is coming. And along with it, inversion season. As temperature and pressure changes trap pollutants in the Salt Lake Valley, it is an important time to recommit to reducing our impact.

Air pollution in general is extremely costly in terms of public health and our economy. In the U.S., we spend $131 billion in air quality-related damages each year. The costs to our well-being are enormous. Bad air is linked to asthma, pneumonia, pregnancy loss, and premature death.

Luckily, expansions to our public transportation infrastructure are making it even easier to leave your car at home and help clear the air.

Idle Free sign near City and County Building

Public Transit Expansions

One way to avoid driving is to make use of public transit.

In July, Salt Lake City and the Utah Transit Authority expanded services on three essential routes, the 2, 9, and 21 bus. The expansions are critical steps towards improving air quality because they allow more riders to take advantage of the public system.

The bus route expansions are among several enhancements made possible through the Funding our Futures income (comprised of a sales tax increase, passed by the City Council, and a bond, approved by Salt Lake City voters, in 2018.)

The results are already starting to come in!

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Check out our new electric vehicle page

We’re excited to announce a new electric vehicle page on slc.gov!

Electric vehicles can improve our health and our economy. That’s why electrification of our transportation system is an important focus of SLCgreen’s activities. EVs are one of the most important tools for cleaning our air, improving the health of our citizens, strengthening our economy, and reducing our carbon footprint.

Market projections show that electric vehicles sales are increasing, and will soon take over as the standard form of single-passenger travel in the U.S.

In Salt Lake City, we hope to be ahead of the curve for electric vehicle adoption, as we know how much it benefits the health of our citizens and strengthens our economy.

With support from the City Council and Mayor Biskupski, we have installed a number of SLC Corporation owned and operated charging stations throughout the city. We are also committed to cleaning up our energy grid, making EVs an even cleaner option!

We are working hard to provide comprehensive and accessible information for SLC residents on electric transportation. You may have heard our interns talking about EVs at community events, and we write about EVs on our blog a lot! However, we felt it was time to provide a one-stop-shop for EV information.

Enter slcgreen.com/ev.

Check out www.slcgreen.com/ev to see all the great information we put together on electric vehicles.

On this page, you will find our Electric Transportation Roadmap, how EVs help the environment, charging information, links to our partner organizations, and more.  We hope all our readers will understand why swift EV adoption is an important part of our initiatives after visiting our webpage.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to our office with questions, concerns, or comments about electrified transportation in Salt Lake City. You can find us at slcgreen@slcgov.com.

EVs are a key part of our commitment to a healthier, cleaner, and more equitable city.

Spread the word by visiting slcgreen.com/ev and sharing the link!

Electric Vehicles: Sorting through Common Myths

by Kelbe Goupil, SLCgreen EV intern

Are you skeptical about electric vehicles? If so, you’re not alone! Many people have questions and worries about driving an electric vehicle. We’ve busted some of the most common myths to ease your mind and encourage you to consider becoming an electric citizen.

Mayor Biskupski unveils new Level 2 charging stations in Salt Lake City on Earth Day, 2019.

Myth #1: I will run out of power and get stranded without a charge.

This is called “range anxiety” and is a common concern. Research shows that on average, drivers in the U.S. travel about 31 miles per day. Any EV on the market can handle well above that on a single charge. Generally speaking, the range of EVs spans 80-230+ miles.

The average EV battery range is projected to reach 300 miles as soon as 2023. The bigger the battery, the more energy it can store and the further you can go without refueling. Additionally, EV drivers do more than 80% of their charging at home!  For those that have long commutes or otherwise drive long distances frequently, a hybrid can eliminate range anxiety, and is cleaner than a gasoline- or diesel-powered vehicle. Public and workplace charging are also available to help you fuel up as needed.

Check out the ChargePoint app or the charging map on slcgreen.com/ev to find charging stations near you. PlugShare.com is another resource and provides open source listing of EV stations.

Myth #2: EVs are too expensive.

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Paying for Poor Air: The Cost of Regional Air Pollution

By SLCgreen intern Kelbe Goupil

Air quality, air quality, air quality…will we ever stop talking about it? Until our air is consistently clean and no longer putting our health and economy at risk, probably not.

Bad air day in Salt Lake City

Talking about air pollution is important to us here at SLCgreen, not only because of how harmful it is to our health but also because of how expensive it is.

Let’s face it: bad air is damaging our economy. And not just in Utah. Air pollution in the U.S. costs the nation at least $131 billion in damages annually, including higher healthcare costs. Globally, the cost of pollution-related death, sickness, and welfare is $4.6 trillion per year, which is about 6.2% of the global economy.

Let’s talk about why that is and what can be done about it. 

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Recent Free Fare Days Saved 5 Tons of Air Pollution

Remember when Salt Lake City partnered with Salt Lake County, Davis County, Intermountain Healthcare, and UTA to host Free Fare Days on Feb. 28 and March 1? The official UTA press release results are posted below! But first, follow Mayor Jackie Biskupski on her donut delivery quest the first day of free rides . . .

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

UTA MEDIA RELEASE

FREE FARE DAYS ON UTA SUCCESSFUL

Agency sees ridership increases throughout the system

The results from UTA’s Free Fare Days on February 28 and March 1 show a 16% increase in boardings for the entire system. Using the average weekday boardings in February 2019 as a baseline (151,933 boardings system wide) overall ridership on Thursday, February 28 jumped to 171,664 and on Friday, March 1 there was an even larger increase to 181,365 passengers.

Free Fare Days were sponsored by Salt Lake County, Intermountain Healthcare, the Salt Lake City Mayor’s Office and Davis County in partnership with UTA.

“UTA is excited about the ridership increases we saw during the Free Fare Days and would like to thank the sponsors who made it possible,” said UTA Board Chairman Carlton Christensen. “We are especially pleased with the ridership increase we saw on the bus system. UTA has been focusing on increasing bus service and we wanted people to try riding the bus on the Free Fare Days. We look forward to upcoming plans to increase frequency, expand service hours and add weekend service on the bus system.”

Compared to 75,479 average weekday boardings in February 2019 bus ridership increased 10%. On Thursday February 28, 82,489 passengers rode UTA buses and on Friday March 1 the number improved to 83,818. This increase in bus ridership stands out in comparison to the previous free fare event in December 2017 when bus ridership did not increase by a noticeable margin.

Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson said, “This is evidence people will change their patterns if cost is addressed. I’ll be working with UTA and partners to find ways to address going forward, especially during inversions.”

TRAX experienced a 14% increase during the two free fare days, with a daily average of 65,366 riders. A typical day in February saw TRAX carry 57,319 boardings. On Thursday February 28 TRAX ridership increased to 64,420 boardings and on Friday March 1 the number grew to 66,312 riders.

“Free Fare Days consistently show that when you remove burdens from transit, people take it,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski. “What leaders should take away from these results is that investing in transit pays off, both in terms of clearing our air and creating equity in our community.”

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Clear the Air by . . . Driving?

At least by driving smarter.

Hear us out: You’ve heard that a big chunk– roughly 50 percent — of Salt Lake City’s winter air pollution comes from motor vehicles.

That’s why SLCgreen promotes cleaner transportation and getting out of our cars as much as possible, particularly during February and the Clear the Air Challenge.

But, we know that taking public transit, biking, or purchasing an electric vehicle is not practical for everyone – yet! However, there are some important ways to reduce pollution even when you do drive.

We all want to take better care of our health and live in a healthy world and by planning ahead we can help our city have fewer red air days! Here’s how:

Avoid Cold Starts. Cold starts occur when we start our vehicles after they have been resting long enough for the engine to get cold.

Did you know? A majority of the air pollutants used across an entire journey are emitted in the first few minutes after you start your car.

A study from the Utah Department of Environmental Quality “found that 75 percent of combined pollutants and emissions are emitted from a car during the first three minutes after a cold start,” as described in a UCAIR’s blog post and video below.   

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