In response to several current public health issues, several groups in town – including Green Needham – have come together to promote a campaign this spring called Needham in Motion. The town-wide campaign will take place in May, and will consist of a set of activities and events designed to encourage residents to leave their cars at home on short trips and instead walk, hike, bike or take the T.
For people who have taken, or plan to take, the 10% Challenge, Needham in Motion is a way to put into action commitments made on step 4 in the Challenge – “Drive Less”.
From an environmental perspective, each of us can contribute to addressing climate change when we walk out our front door by choosing to walk, bike, take public transportation or even carpool. Automotive traffic contributes approximately 20% to the carbon dioxide emitted globally, and U.S. automobiles and light trucks are responsible for nearly half of all greenhouse gases emitted by automobiles globally, according to a new study by Environmental Defense. U.S. drivers average 11,000 miles per year, 29 percent above the global average. Needham could help bring this average down simply by choosing to walk or bike on short trips, or taking public transportation more frequently.
The Rails to Trails Conservancy recently published a comprehensive report called Active Transportation for America: A Case for Increased Federal Investment in Bicycling and Walking, that underscores the value of improving rates of walking and bicycling. The report concludes that,
“Modest increases in bicycling and walking could lead to an annual reduction of 70 billion miles of automobile travel. More substantial increases could lead to the avoidance of 200 billion miles per year… This volume of decreased auto travel is equivalent to cutting oil dependence and greenhouse gas emissions from passenger vehicles by 3 percent to 8 percent.”
This then is the simple objective of Needham in Motion: the reduction of automobile travel miles by Needham residents. The approach is that each week of the month will be sponsored by a different group in the town:
- The first week of the month, May 3 – 9, Eat Well Be Fit Needham will take the lead by hosting their annual Spring into Action event.
- The second week, May 10 – 16, will focus on hiking, and activities will be led by Park & Rec, Needham Friends of Woods and Waters and the Bay Colony Rail Trail.
- The third week, May 17 – 23, will be sponsored by Needham Bikes, coinciding with the annual Bay State Bike Week.
- The fourth week, May 24 – 30, will focus on encouraging residents to take public transportation.
Many details are still to be worked out, but a calendar of events has already begun to come together. For more information on the campaign, visit the web site – www.needhaminmotion.com.