OPINION: Get Moving, Lose the Car

One of the best times in Michigan is just around the corner.

Spring in Michigan is absolutely beautiful. Now that the snow and ice have melted, grass is popping up all over along sidewalks and in people’s yards, the sound of birds chirping can be heard early in the morning and, oh yes, allergies!

I’m a huge proponent of alternative methods of transportation. As someone who does not own a car or drive, I am able to see firsthand the benefits to other ways to get around besides a motor vehicle, such as by walking, bicycling, and public transportation.

Spring is one of the best seasons to get moving. There are 29 miles of sidewalks around CMU’s campus for students to take.

There are a multitude of benefits to getting adequate moderate exercise, and that includes walking. It helps with everything from mental acuity, increasing oxygen flow which directly affects the brain, improving your immune system, and a whole host of other positive benefits, both physical and mental.

There is nothing quite as invigorating and freeing as simple as a nice walk, especially as the temperature begins to climb. Personally, it helps me relieve stress, clear my head or just get that extra bit of vitamin D, crucial for the body for health and to maintain strong bones. One of the easiest ways to get vitamin D is through limited exposure to sunlight.

You know how you feel after you’ve been out in the bright afternoon sunshine on a summer’s day relaxing or hanging around with your family or friends? Even if you don’t have friends, you can chill out at a park or in the grass with a book, a podcast or anything you find enjoyable while soaking up the sun and tanning, if you’re into that sort of thing.

So maybe walking isn’t your thing, it’s raining one day or perhaps where you have to go is not exactly within a reasonable walking distance. Another option is public transportation.

One of the difficulties with this is not every city has a decent transportation system, or lacks any transportation system in the first place.

We often think of big urban areas like New York, Chicago or Seattle having major transportation networks like trains, subways or intricate bus lines. The Isabella County Transportation Commission provides various services to assist CMU students and residents of Isabella County with transportation needs, including the I-Ride program, a community shuttle, which arrives and departs from campus to various apartments in the area.

Although I do not currently live off-campus, I have been able to see firsthand the benefit of utilizing this service.

One other great alternative mode of transportation is bicycling.

Sam Amrhein, a senior from Elk Rapids, loved biking last semester and plans on doing it again this year.

She said as someone who lives near high and Fancher Streets, it’s great being able to bike to campus, helping to cut her commute time to just about 10 minutes.

“I always wait until it gets warmer out because in the wintertime there’s just ice everywhere and snow everywhere,” she said.

Amrhein expressed frustration with drivers not paying attention to bicyclists, which definitely is a safety concern for some.

For those who do drive, I implore you to be courteous to your fellow bicyclists and pedestrians. They’re just trying to get somewhere, just like you are, but not in the manner you would be accustomed.

As the weather in Mount Pleasant warms and the semester draws to a close, let’s examine the various alternatives for transporting ourselves to and from class, work and wherever we may play. There are much healthier and greener ways of getting where you need to go, and I at least ask that you consider employing of these options. Who knows, you just might become hooked!