Green Means “Go!”

One of the biggest culprits of air pollution is the putrid emissions of cars. For each liter of petrol burned by an engine, three kilograms of air pollution that contain the harmful nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide are released. Let that percolate in your brain for a while—three whole kilograms worth per liter. And just to reiterate the scope of ruin that most of us are a part of practically every single day, we’re talking about the discharges of just one car here.
Now, you’re probably thinking to yourself that, hey, tough luck, driving is a necessary evil. After all, what else is a city dwelling, constant commuter to do? Daily life does have to go on, we agree, but there are alternatives to the usual ways of getting around. Environmentally friendlier modes of transport are becoming more accepted and commonplace. They’re not the norm just yet, but we’re all starting to wise up to the need to keep it green.
So, if you’re still unsure of what you can do, here are some ways to travel smog-free.
I Want To Ride My Bicycle
To most people, waking up an hour or two earlier in the morning so you can ride your bicycle to work, instead of driving, sounds insane beyond belief. So, if reducing air pollution isn’t enough of a motivation, think of it this way: It’s also a great reason to finally get all that exercise you’ve been complaining you never had the time for!
If you’re worried that storage might be a problem, there’re a couple of solutions to that. First off, you might want to check out the JZ88, a foldable bike designed specifically for city living that’ll set you back $668. When collapsed, the JZ88 can fit practically anywhere, even under your desk, so you’ll never have to worry about lugging around a clunky piece of metal. You can pick up one of these babies at Joo Hong Leong Co. (#01-170, Blk. 116, Lorong 2 Toa Payoh, 6253-2151).
But if you have a soft spot for said clunky bike, parking doesn’t have to be a hassle either. Cadence Bikes (#01-01 and #02-01, 27 Seah Street) offers bike storage and even shower facilities (for the sake of your colleagues — can’t have you walking into the office smelling like you just cycled to work). Just give Jason a call at 9107-0401.
Alternatively, you could streamline things and strap on a pair of in-line skates. A pair of GEO 2, one of the latest models from in-line skate pioneer Rollerblade, will ring up at $233, and you can pick them up at Skateline (#04-37A, Peninsula Shopping Centre, 3 Coleman Street, 6339-7707).
Pooling Resources
If you’re still reeling from the mere idea that it’s possible to wake up earlier than the wee hours you’re already struggling with, there’s always car pooling. It’s a simple idea, really. All you’ll need are a few neighbors who work in the same vicinity, or some colleagues who live near you, to share a ride to the office. It’s that easy, and you’ve instantly reduced the number of cars on the road during those awful peak periods by four.
Aside from cutting back on the use of petrol, if enough people went the car pooling route, imagine how much less jammed the expressways would be in the mornings and evenings.
If you love to sing along to the radio on the way to work and don’t want an audience, however, there’s also car sharing. Set up by NTUC in May 1997, car sharing is similar to other forms of public transport, in that if you’ve signed up as a member of the scheme, you have 24-hour access to cars available at many locations around the island. Car sharing makes more ecological sense than actually owning a car, simply because you’re using the car only when you really need to. And what’s more, this scheme won’t burn a hole in your wallet, since you pay only when you drive.
For more on car sharing, you can head down to their administrative office (#05-07, NTUC INCOME Tampines Junction, 300 Tampines Ave. 5, 6788-8788) or, for a complete list of rates and some basic information, check out
Green Machines
Clearly living up to its name, Smart Automobile took a huge step towards cleaner transport when it launched a fleet of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)-powered Mercedes Benz cabs in December last year. These vehicles operate on natural gas, which cuts carbon dioxide discharge by more than 20 percent as compared to vehicles that run on petrol. The CNG cabs also significantly reduce the emission of nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and reactive hydrocarbon—the main cause of smog.
The catch, however, is that the CNG cabs will set you back 60 cents more with each trip—the flag down rate being $3 instead of the usual $2.40. The reasoning behind the pricier fare is that there is, thus far, only one refueling station on the entire island. The good news is that, since they first hit the roads, the cabs have been getting the good word from passengers and drivers alike, encouraging the National Environment Agency to provide $2 million to build three new CNG stations, so there is hope for cheaper rates eventually. In the meantime, what’s an extra 60 cents, right?
For those of you who still feel the need to own a vehicle, hybrid cars are the way to go. Already boasting a huge following in the US, cars such as Toyota’s pioneering Prius and, more recently, the Honda Hybrid Civic have been slowly making an impact on the local market.
Using an electric motor to start up the engine and travel at low speeds and a petrol motor for higher speeds and acceleration, the hybrids have been proven to reduce emissions greatly, as compared to their conventional counterparts.
They’re certainly pricier than your regular cars (Honda’s Civic Hybrid, one of the most affordable of its kind, goes for around $80K), but with the Land Transport Authority’s rebates of 40 percent of hybrids’ open market values extended to the end of 2007, there’s that added incentive to pick them up.
Foot Soldier
It’s literally as easy as putting one leg before the other, yet very few people seem to realize how simply walking could work for the environment. Imagine, for example, the reduction of emission you produce each time you take a stroll to the supermarket or the neighborhood interchange, instead of driving. It’s a small step, sure, but every little bit does count.
Like biking and in-line skating, walking is a boon to your health and wallet too. A pair of running shoes from Royal Sporting House (#B2-15/23, Ngee Ann City, 391 Orchard Rd, 6538-8888) will definitely set you back less than what you’d spend on petrol in the long run, and you get to stretch those legs that spend almost every day cooped up under an office desk. Hop to it.