Saturday, October 17, 2009

Holy Day of Carpooling!

Every week in these United State, tens of millions drive to church, synagogue, temple, mosque or other house of worship. What if they carpooled?
  • Some polls say 40% of Americans go to church at least weekly; others people dispute these numbers, so let's say 20% do, or around 60 million (out of 300 million). How many cars is that driving to church, and how many miles each way?
  • It's hard to tell, but let's do some rough figures. Some attendees are driving alone; some are packing their SUV with 10 kids. Let's assume the average car going to church four people in it. That gives us roughly 15 million trips to church per week (excluding those who go more than once).
  • Now, can't a lot of these carpool? Our estimate includes SUVs with five empty seats and Cooper Minis, and a huge range in between. If one-half the families carpooled with someone whose door they basically passed on the way to church, that would eliminate 25% of the trips, or roughly 3.75 million trips a week, or 195 MILLION trips a year.
  • How much gas this saves is complicated; it depends on the average trip to church, is a little thrown in for the added weight of the extra people in each vehicle and a little for whatever overhead there may be in picking up carpoolers. But if the average trip burns half a gallon of gas (not unlikely at 23 MPG (the average for passenger cars in 2006, the last year available), then we're talking the savings of over 95 million gallons a year. 
  • Saving 95 million gallons a year is not going to make America energy independent, but it's a big step in the right direction. It's also helpful in cutting the harm to the planet over which we have been given stewardship. If it saves a little money as well, there's no harm in that!
  • If you live within a couple miles of your church, try walking. If it takes you an hour, so what? It's a day of rest, not of work; the walk will do you good both physically and spiritually. And when you get to the pews, they will feel a lot softer.
  • A side-benefit of carpooling, or walking together, is more time building community with fellow parishioners. Who knows, you make discover you have something in common!
Let religious leaders of all faiths urge members of the congregations to carpool; let congregations take the lead themselves. After all, not one Founder of any major Faith ever drove a car!

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