As a native Coloradan, it is typical to drive long distances to get to places like school, the grocery store, and the mall. Before moving to Seattle, I only rode the bus a handful of times and biked no more than a leisurely ride down the street. Yet, living in this city with school, entertainment, grocery stores, and other amenities all conveniently within a few miles of each other, it is easy to choose more environmentally-friendly modes of transportation. From carpool lanes, the link system, biking, to even kayaking, people in Seattle find convenient, active, and unique ways to get where they need to go without the stress and expense of driving.
An exciting new resource for Seattelites are dockless bikes, an idea that previously originated in China. SPIN, Limebike, and Ofo currently are the three major companies represented in Seattle. They’re cheap and carbon-free without the hassle of docking the bike at specific locations, like Seattle’s previous bike share program Pronto. We also soon might have the luxury of dockless electric-assist bicycles for those of us who need a little help up those steep Seattle hills (3rd Ave. hill, anyone?).
SPU supports and mirrors Seattle’s innovative sustainable vibe through various departments’ efforts. One of the ways it tries to offset its carbon emissions is by encouraging students, staff, and faculty to utilize alternative modes of transportation to get to school. Last year (2016-2017), 39% of undergraduate and 12% of graduate students used modes of transportation like walking, biking, bus, train, and ferry. Certain incentives provided by SPU help make transportation easier through cheaper parking passes for carpool, bus passes at a reduced rate, and a 20% parking discount for those who drive a qualified fuel-efficient vehicle. In 2016-2017, 14 drivers of these fuel-efficient cars avoided 1,176 kg of greenhouse gas emissions by charging their vehicles – the equivalent of planting 44 trees!
Though SPU and the greater Seattle have a long way to go to further decrease its carbon emissions, they are at least working towards offering alternative options. Though I strive to live a more sustainable life, I am still often fearful of giving up the comfort and convenience of my routine. So my challenge to you and myself is this: start small and try everything at least once. Use one of the dockless bikes to bike to a coffee shop. Bus to work one day. Walk to the grocery store on your day off. You don’t have to completely forgo carbon-producing methods to have an impact. You might even see a boost in your mood!