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Record Numbers To Go "Car Free"

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Capital Bikeshare is holding a party in Yards Park Thursday to celebrate the 11th "Car Free Day," which has a record number of pledges.
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Capital Bikeshare is holding a party in Yards Park Thursday to celebrate the 11th "Car Free Day," which has a record number of pledges.

A record number of commuters in the D.C. metro area plan to ditch driving  for the 11th Annual World Car Free Day on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011. More than 10,600 commuters have taken an online pledge to bike or take the bus or train to work. Commuter Connections, the organizers behind the local Car-Free Day effort say that's a 42 percent increase over last year.

Several commuters have taken the pledge because local gas prices are averaging $3.80 per gallon, according to the latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Commuter Connections says the ultimate goal is to fight traffic congestion and air pollution. They say going "car-lite" or carpooling is also an option.

"I feel that the congestion issues we have in the region, as well as air quality issues, this has prompted individuals to take a stand and say this is something I'm going to do," says Commuter Connections Director, Nicholas Ramfos.

On whether or not the record number of those who pledged to go car free actually will, Ramfos says rain could be a factor. "Well, you know it's going to be hard to say and I think the weather might play into some of that as well so depending on some folks may have good intentions but if the weather doesn't cooperate, then in some cases folks may do something different," says Ramfos.

To encourage commuters to stick to the plan, D.C.-based company Bike and Roll is offering free rentals for the day. Montgomery County Commuter Services has free coffee and doughnuts at the Burtonsville Park & Ride lot. 

World Car Free Day was started in 2000 and more than 40 countries are participating in the effort.

More support for those who plan to ditch their car keys can be found at: www.carfreemetrodc.com

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