Summer Abundance Through Sharing

(view more articles in SOS Tompkins Weekly)

Tompkins Weekly 7-20-15

by Sophie Somerfeldt

Golden sunshine and sweet summer breezes can bring out our most generous selves. Can a ‘sharing mood’ around transportation bring out the best in our whole community? Here are five ways it already is, and how you can get in on the summer fun.

1) Sharing rides. Every parent wants their child to succeed, and it turns out that participating in sports, musicals or other organized, peer-group ‘extras’ aren’t extra after all–the social connections, new skills and leadership development leads to more successful students. This past year and heading into the next, the Ithaca City School District has become increasingly committed to encouraging all students to join in at least one of these school-based activities and to not letting transportation barriers stand in the way.

One of the best solutions: sharing rides. Coaches and other activity leaders have been supportive of parent volunteers organizing more shared rides among families, during the year and for the many summer opportunities for youth. Including all students and building camaraderie through shared rides in turn creates a more diverse talent pool and a stronger community for everyone.

What you can do: Consider sharing more rides than usual; see if other caregivers are interested, or ask the coach, director or activity leader to support more organized ridesharing. For helpful tips and support, contact Way2Go as shown below.

2) Sharing bus service. Sometimes a shared ride doesn’t work out, but a bus route does! Through the local School Success Transportation Coalition (SSTC), TCAT has been getting in on the sharing act by providing free transit passes to Ithaca City School District (ICSD) students who need and can use them to get to various school-based and/or leadership development activities.

Whether for basketball or drama practice, language support at the library, or even a summer job, the SSTC/ICSD bus pass program is creating opportunities for youth. What’s more, young people learn a valuable life skill and become role models for using one of the most sustainable transportation options around.

What you can do: To find out more about the bus pass program, or to offer support, contact the School Success Transportation Coalition at, or through Way2Go (see below).

3) Sharing our gorges. And it doesn’t stop there. TCAT makes it easier for us all to share our gorgeous local parks through their Route 22 bus service, which travels between downtown and Treman State Park, Buttermilk Falls State Park, Cass Park, Cayuga Nature Center, and Taughannock Falls State Park. Weekday service runs through August 21st, and weekend service through September 6th.

What you can do: Ride the bus! The more people on the bus–in particular, the more of us who take advantage of Route 22 this summer–the more support TCAT has to continue the service. Visit for more information about Route 22 and other bus routes around the county.

4) Sharing the air. We can’t help but share the air we breathe, but there is a simple thing we can do to breathe easier: turn off our cars. I’m not talking about leaving your car behind–though that’s a great idea when you can, especially in summer. Simply turn off your car when it’s not moving, unless you’re in traffic.

Common myths and habits can make people very resistant to this idea, whether at a fast food drive through, or the parking lot of EcoVillage. “I don’t want to stress the engine,” we say, or “I’m only waiting here for a minute!” Here’s the truth: studies show that you save engine wear, money and pollution by turning your engine off for any stop beyond 6 to 10 seconds!

What you can do: For one day, or one week, give it a try: turn your car off when your wheels stop moving, except in traffic. Drive-throughs? Definitely! You’ll find it’s perfectly easy to turn your car back on when it’s time to move forward. Dropping off and picking up friends? Yup. Turn your car off for that three minute parting conversation or five minute wait. For more myth-busting facts and anti-idling encouragement, see

5) Sharing the road. The other day, as I was carefully riding my bicycle through the west end, an infuriated driver yelled out of her car window: “You can’t ride in the road like that–you’re not a car!”

Not only was she suffering from road rage, she seemed unaware of basic traffic law–and she’s not the only one. Where cars are dominant, we tend to think that roads are for cars. Not true. Roads are for moving people, and adults-on-bicycles have the same rights and must follow the same exact rules as other vehicles. There are a few exceptions where bicycles aren’t allowed, such as interstate freeways. However, on most streets and roads, adult bicyclists are like cars!

In fact, in the City of Ithaca, while kids may ride on sidewalks, adult riders may not. Bikes and cars must share the road, and follow the same rules for yielding. Generally, all slower vehicles must ride to the right where practical. And while a car and bicycle may share a wider lane, a narrower lane means a bicyclist may and often must “take the lane” to ride safely. In either case, safe bicycling means riding far enough from parked cars to be out of the “door zone.”

What you can do: Whether a driver or rider or both, knowing the law and ‘playing nicely’ can get everyone where they want to go as safely and quickly possible. For a (no) crash course on rules of the road, visit the League of American Bicyclists at You can also call the City of Ithaca or find information at For more on local bicycling support and events, check out the Finger Lakes Cycling Club at and Bike Walk Tompkins at

Hooray for all the ways people are creating more abundance and a stronger community through thoughtful transportation habits. Let the laid-back-but-lush flavor of summer inspire you to share more rides, ride the bus, share the air, share the road, and enjoy the season.

Sophie Somerfeldt is a transportation educator at Way2Go, a program of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County. For information about getting around Tompkins County safely, affordably and conveniently, contact Way2Go at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County at (607)-272-2292, or



If you liked this article, you may want to check out our complete archives of SOS Tompkins Weekly articles