How Big is Your Footprint?



How Big is Your Footprint?

The Rhode Island Bicycle Coalition members and RIPTA are teaming up to bring  you the 2010 Commuter Carbon Reducation Challenge.

The goal of the challenge is to see how many pounds of CO2 you can save commuting by some means other than a single occupancy vehicle.  Whatever your method of alternative commute, be it riding a bike, walking, riding a bus, carpooling, or even working from home, you will emit less CO2 than driving a single occupancy car and get credit!

We currently have over $1000 dollars in prizes and are working to collect even more.  Prizes will be awarded based on both your level of participation and largest CO2 offset.  We will post details next week on how you can sign up for the challenge and how you can log your commutes starting on May 1st.

Let’s see how big an impact such a little state can have on reducing our portion of greenhouse gases.


  • mmitchell
    Apr 22, 2010 at 4:19 am

    Walking and cycling are more efficient and less polluting than single occupant automobiles and RIPTA buses.

    Unfortunately this project presupposes that the massive diesel powered vehicles operated by RIPTA are more efficient and less polluting than other motor vehicles under all operating conditions. There are many situations in which RIPTA buses operate with few or no passengers. Are they then less polluting? RIPTA buses spend untold vehicle hours idling at curbside during shift changes, etc. Are the tons of wasted fuel and diesel exhaust pollution being considered and challenged? There are many other inefficiencies in the RIPTA model of mass transportation.

    The cycling community should be wary of blindly "teaming up" with RIPTA. A healthy dose of skepticism and constructive criticism of any mass transportation monolith is warranted.

  • Labann
    Apr 22, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Teamed up? You can’t help but be… they are tax subsidized! Drivers don’t treat clients with any respect whatever. Blogged recently on my annual bus ride over the Newport Bridge… what a fiasco!

  • Barry
    Apr 23, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    Of course teaming up “blindly” is to be avoided, but I think RIPTA is indeed a natural ally of the bike community for quite a few reasons:

    its bike racks, free to those boarding, extends the range and utility of bicycles for many;
    it provides a backup for those who use a bicycle to try to avoid having a car, or a second car (as is the case for my wife and I);
    it helps get cars off the road;
    it helps keep our money in RI instead of buying gasoline and sending it to OPEC and out of state oil companies;
    its professional drivers are relatively safer for vulnerable road users (indeed, in Paris I saw reserved travle lanes fjust for buses and bicycles working out fine since there were not too many of either and the bus drivers were well aware of the share-the-lane requirements);
    and, even with the reverse-run figured in (opposite to the direction of rush hour thus few passengers) there are energy savings according to Oak Ridge National Labs – one can see that since buses get about 5.5 mpg so they only need to average about 4 passengers per mile to beat the average car with its 1.2 passengers.

    On the other hand, there is a lot of potential for carpools to be energy-beneficial.

    By the way, when was the last time you saw the blcak diesel particualtes coming from a RIPTA bus? They have done a terrific job of cleaning up exhaust, usually taken for granted

    Go RIPTA!

  • Geoff
    Apr 29, 2010 at 8:31 am

    I think this challenge is stupid.

    How can I measure how much carbon i am saving if i never was going to use it in the first place?

  • Geoff
    Apr 29, 2010 at 9:39 am

    okay stupid might be a little harsh, but pointless and silly?

    call it a commuter challenge but forget about the CO2. It is one of the most trivial benefits of commuting by alternative means.

  • Labann
    Apr 29, 2010 at 3:39 pm


    Diesel fuel is almost as bad for asthma and pulmonary diseases as gasoline is for carcinogens and lung cancer. And unless it's biodiesel from corn, if mostly comes from Saudi Arabia.

    Always pity people waiting for a bus. I can usually beat them from my home to the city every time. Busses only average about 8 mph. I can double except under the worst conditions.

    That said, I do appreciate sensible public transportation strategies, but RI doesn't have any. Bus loops don't rim city. About the closest they come is a train corridor, but it doesn't yet stop at transit hubs, like the airport or suburban park-n-locks. It will have to improve before I'll approve.

  • Sarah
    Apr 29, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    I'm a little confused about the way you get points in this challenge. Do you get more points for commuting further? You'd certainly save more CO2 if you went from driving to biking 20 miles as opposed to 2 miles. Does that mean the people who live further away from work get an unfair advantage? I only live a mile away, so it would be tough for me to save more CO2 unless i added longer errands to my day (like picking a grocery store in Warwick or going out to eat across town instead of staying home and making my own meal). That doesn't make sense…

    Still, I hope we get people to participate, and I really hope we can recruit people who otherwise would drive themselves everywhere! It would be so great if we could noticeably improve the air quality around here, even if only for a month!

  • Apr 30, 2010 at 4:28 am


    There are two ways to "win". Those that commute farther, will be able to obtain a larger CO2 offset. This is precisely why we also have a points category. This removes the unfair advantage people who commute farther have and puts everyone on a more or less level playing field. From the people who run the competition software:

    A person needs to provide a log entry for all 7 days of the week. That's because, for those days they do not commute, they can select "Did Not Commute". This way we are able to calculate their "total points available".

    For example: Let's say a person commutes 5 days a week and uses alternative transportation 4 of those days. They earned 4 point out of a possible 5 or 80%. Suppose another person only commuted 3 days a week and used alternative transportation all 3 days. In that case, they earned 3 out of a possible 3 or 100%.

    This make is fair for people who work part time.