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Imagine... A Day without Driving on Long Island

3rd Annual Car Free Long Island Day is Tuesday

David North

Farmingdale- (LInews) Forward looking neighbors are gearing-up for Car Free Day on Long Island. Organizers say nearly 3,000 have pledged to save gasoline, save money and preserve our environment by finding alternatives to driving on Tuesday.

A range of options for going car free, or car-lite were introduced during a presentation on the campus of Farmingdale State College Thursday, where enthusiasts described innovations for helping Long Islanders commute by bus, bicycle, carpool, vanpool, and rail.

Car Free Co-Chair Rosemary Mascali and her team parked on campus with representatives of the Suffolk Bike Riders Association, Suffolk County Transit, New York State 511 Transit Solutions, the Long Island Rail Road, and the Melville Chamber of Commerce.

"30 percent of Long Island greenhouse cases are from transportation," said Mascali. "Some of us may need our cars, but driving even a mile less per day can make a big difference in a community the size of Long Island," she said.

Car Free Day is a world-wide event; on Long Island last year 2,855 participants avoided 72,000 miles of driving, and prevented 36 tons of carbon dioxide emissions from entering our atmosphere, said Mascali.

Another rally and informational session is scheduled for Tuesday, Car Free Day, at the Suffolk County center in Hauppauge.

Garry Lenberger of Suffolk County Transit and Darrnel Tyson of the Suffolk Department of Public Works bus services avalible along our North-South routes linking to the Long Island Rail Road and to intersections along our major East-West highways.

A promising example is a bus route along Nichols Road, extending from Stony Brook University on the North Shore, to Suffolk County Community College in Selden, to Patchogue on our South Shore. Lenberger says there's more to come.

David Gustin of the Melville Chamber of Commerce praised the Car Free Day team, and explained why helping Long Islanders out of our cars is crucial to preserving our natural environment, and nurturing our business environment and economy: Route 110, a North-South corridor on the Nassau-Suffolk border, is lined with companies who require easy access for their customers and employees. "We must address our transportation issues to attract and keep young talent," he said.

Chris Papandreou, Director of Customer Information for the LIRR looked down the line at projects of benefit to car free, car-lite Long Islanders, such as Eastside Access in Manhattan; and the double-track project on the Ronkonkoma line between Ronkonoma and Farmingdale, and its mutiple benefits for travelers, including improved service to Long Island MacArthur Aiport.

Long Islanders are famously wedded to our vehicles, but hosting the Car Free kick-off at Farmindale State College inspired some to think of education, and evolution. Today's young people are perhaps more-wedded to their telephones and social media than to an automobile; to them the message of Car Free Day is a "no brainer."

"Many of our students are commuters," said Dr. W. Hubert Keen, President of Farmingdale State College. "It's nothing new to them; they find options each day by phone or Facebook for getting to campus if a car breaks down or if there's a family emergency."

Those options may include the use of ride-share and ride-match data bases; available through 511NY Rideshare.

Keen also discussed his enthusasm for the nation's first Earth Day observance, but acknowledged a "then-and-now" irony about Car Free Day: Then, students took to the streets to protect our enviroment. Today, students can use phones, apps and Facebook to keep OFF the streets, --to protect our environment. 

To find out more about Car Free Day Long Island, and to learn more about the amazing range of options for going car free or car-lite vist: http://carfreedayli.com/

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