This is a guest blog post from the Executive Office of Health and Human Services’ Human Service Transportation Office.
Want to save money while also improving the environment? Next week is the week to try it. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) presents the Clean Air Challenge Sept. 20–27. The Clean Air Challenge is an opportunity for Massachusetts residents to explore commuting options, learn about alternative transportation, save money, and improve air quality.
To participate, simply sign up for MassDOT’s free NuRide program and log any trips you take by walking, biking, public transit, or carpooling. During the Clean Air Challenge, you can win prizes for contributing to a cleaner Massachusetts. Even after the Challenge, you can earn rewards with local and national businesses for your green trips.
Take photos and share your experiences on Twitter and Facebook using #MACleanAir.
Why Participate? Think TGIF
- Thrifty — Save on gas and car maintenance by choosing an alternative commuting option.
- Green — Transportation is responsible for 27 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions released into our air nationwide, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
- Important — For residents of Massachusetts who cannot drive or do not own a car, transportation services provide critical access to jobs, medical services, and the community.
- Fun — The Clean Air Challenge is a great chance to try out a new mode of transit – maybe you’ll love it!
Berkshire County Clean Air Challenge
This year, Berkshire County is sponsoring its own Berkshire County Clean Air Challenge. Members of the Berkshire County Regional Coordinating Council decided to take this opportunity to spread the word that even in Western Massachusetts, there are alternatives to driving alone.
If you’re in the area, check out some of these events:
- Pittsfield 3rd Thursday, Sept. 17 — Check out the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority (BRTA)’s Information Bus, pick up a copy of the Berkshire County Transportation Guide, and make a pledge for how you will participate in the Berkshire County Clean Air Challenge at this Pittsfield street festival from 5–8 p.m.
- Bike Safety and Repair in Adams, Sept. 20 — Join the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) from 11 a.m.–1 p.m. to enjoy the Adams bike path and get bike safety tips in this Mount Greylock Interpretive Program. Meet at the end of the Ashuwillticook Bike Trail next to the Adams Visitor Center at 3 Hoosac St. Rain date Sept. 27.
- Ride the Bus Day, Sept. 22 — Join Berkshire Interfaith Organizing and elected officials on BRTA bus routes and explore the many destinations you can reach by bus, from Sheffield to Williamstown.
- Free Rides for Seniors and People with Disabilities, Sept. 22 and 24 — Southern Berkshire Elderly Transportation Corporation is offering free rides in South County and on its new medical transportation service into Pittsfield. Check it out and tell your friends and neighbors.
- Clean Mountain Air Hike, Sept. 25 — Join the Egremont Council on Aging on a gentle Appalachian Trail Hike. Meet at the Kellogg Conservation Center in South Egremont at 9 a.m. Wear good walking shoes.
Berkshire County Regional Coordinating Council
The Berkshire County Clean Air Challenge is organized by the Berkshire County Regional Coordinating Council, a group of human service agency staff, transportation providers, and advocates coming together to improve mobility and access for seniors, people with disabilities, and low-income residents in Berkshire County.
“Even in our rural county, we do have some transportation options that can help people with disabilities, seniors, and lower-income residents get to work, medical appointments, and other important destinations,” explained Regional Coordinating Council Co-chair Joe Harrington, Acting Program Monitor at the Department of Developmental Services (DDS). “We saw the Clean Air Challenge as a great opportunity to get people excited to learn about the services that are out there — and a means to raise awareness of where gaps in transportation remain.”
The Regional Coordinating Council is part of a statewide initiative jointly led by MassDOT’s Mobility Management Center and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services’s (HHS) MassMobility initiative.
Want to learn more? Find a Council near you or learn more about what other regions are accomplishing.
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