EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

September 14, 2013

Next week marks state's fifth Car Free Week

It’s Car-Free Week beginning Monday, a week designated to encourage people to leave the car at home at least one day.

But chances are, you haven’t heard.

Car-Free Week, in its fifth year in Massachusetts, coincides with a world wide Car-Free Day on Sept. 22. The idea, supporters say, is to encourage people to begin thinking about alternate methods of transportation to use whenever possible.

“We felt that it was important to recognize that not all commuters can commute green on a daily basis,” said Rebecca Cyr, a spokeswoman with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, which has a blog and Facebook page promoting the event. “Massachusetts Car-Free Week encourages them to try a green commute at least one day throughout an entire promotional week. The goal is that they will incorporate sustainable trips into their daily commutes all year long.”

The idea is to walk, bike, take public transportation or carpool to work, or even stay home a day by telecommuting or working a compressed week, saving one trip into the office. Route maps of the local regional transit agencies and the MBTA are available on Google Maps or on the agencies’ webpages.

MassDOT set up a Facebook page and used its webpage, the MBTA’s webpage and electronic billboards on interstates 93 and 90 to promote Car Free Week. But visibility was low last week in the Merrimack Valley. Even people who regularly take alternate transportation to work did not know about it.

“First time I heard about it,” said Dan Concessi, a Wakefield resident who often bikes to work at the North Andover Department of Public Works.

“I do it every day that I can. It’s weather permitting, basically,” he said. “For me there are three main reasons. One is it’s great fun. I love riding a bike. Two, it’s great exercise and three, with the cost of gas its good basic transportation. I have to sacrifice a lot in time, but it’s worth it to me.”

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