Commute Another Way challenge begins today

Posted May 10, 2009, at 9:52 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Beginning today, Mainers will be encouraged to participate in the 15th annual Commuter Challenge by car pooling, biking, walking or taking the bus to work.

Dianne Rice, who coordinates the Commuter Challenge, or Commute Another Way Week, for communities in the Bangor Area Comprehensive Transportation System, said 25 local businesses and more than 200 people are expected to take part.

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The Commuter Challenge is sponsored by GO MAINE, a joint program of the Maine Department of Transportation and the Maine Turnpike Authority.

“Every year it’s gotten better,” she said. “It used to just be a one-day event, but now it’s been stretched to a week. It’s really just a way to get the word out to people that there are other options.”

Each day will highlight a different way to commute. The awareness week kicks off today with Vanpool Day, followed by Transit Tuesday. Rice said in years past, the BAT bus system offered free rides, but the down economy has forced the BAT to do away with that incentive.

On Wednesday, participants are encouraged to car pool and can find riders through the GO MAINE Web site, http://www.gomaine.org/cawday/index.php.

Thursday will highlight walkers, Rice said, but it also is “Try Anything Day.” In the past, participants have kayaked, in-line skated and even unicycled to work.

The week wraps up on Friday, which is National Bike to Work Day.

Peggy Markson, who works in the communications department for the University of Maine System, has participated in Commute Another Way Week for the past 10 years.

“I think it’s something people look forward to, and it’s a lot of fun,” she said. “For some people, myself included, it jump-starts the idea of walking or riding bikes and putting behind the cold weather.”

Of the 100 or so employees who work at the UMS offices in downtown Bangor, Markson predicted that about 10 percent would find another way to commute this week.

Rice said BACTS would hold a free breakfast from 7 to 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Pickering Square parking garage downtown.

Those who participate in Commute Another Way Week will be eligible for a number of prizes and giveaways, but Rice said they must sign up on the GO MAINE Web site.

Anyone seeking more information who does not have Internet access can call BACTS at 942-6389 or 800-339-6389.

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