Will $2-per-gallon gasoline persuade at least a few more Toledoans to consider some way to work, school, or lunch other than the solo-driver shuffle? Next week will be an ideal time to find out.
The timing for B-BOPP-R Week, the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments' annual campaign to promote buses, bicycles, carpools, or just plain walking, couldn't be more appropriate, organizers said.
"With the price of gasoline rising so much, it certainly is apropos to consider alternatives for commuting," said David Dysard, vice president of transportation for TMACOG.
While the private automobile is unlikely to lose its preeminence among travel modes in the Toledo area anytime soon, Mr. Dysard said, soaring gasoline prices should at least "hit a nerve" and prompt people to consider whether all the car travel they do is necessary.
Now in its 11th year, the event formerly known as B-BOPP Week has added an "R" to its name to represent rail transportation, although in Toledo, the only passenger trains are intercity services operated by Amtrak that are hardly appropriate for a trip to the store.
The more familiar letters in the alternative-transportation week's name are Bus, Bike Or Pool, or Pedestrian.
Besides the potential cost savings of reducing fuel consumption, the metropolitan council's B-BOPP-R event listing notes that biking, walking, car-pooling, and public transportation all reduce pollution, and the first two have physical fitness benefits, too.
An annual highlight of the week is Try Transit Day, on Wednesday, when the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority offers 25-cent fares to promote bus ridership. Those who bring bicycles to use on the bus system's bike racks may ride for a quarter all week long.
The bike racks are TARTA's most tangible result of past years' B-BOPP weeks, said James Gee, the transit authority's general manager. Bicycle advocates complained that without such racks, the bus system was unfriendly to cyclists - particularly those who might want to ride part of the way to work or school, but are unwilling or unable to go the whole distance - and TARTA listened, he said.
Bus ridership has been up for the past three months, Mr. Gee said. "I don't know if it's directly attributable to fuel prices, but some of it might be."
Other feature days during B-BOPP-R week include:
●Share-A-Ride Day on Monday, promoting car pools.
●Bike Commute Day on Tuesday, featuring an 11:30 a.m. lunch and dedication ceremony for the Municipal Complex Connector Bikeway in Oregon;
●Pedestrian Day, on Thursday, featuring a Celebrity Walk-Ride in Sylvania's Olander Park with Lucas County Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak and WTOL-TV broadcaster Jerry Anderson;
●Rail Day on Friday, with historic and model train exhibits at Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza and an Amtrak ticket drawing.
Also on Friday, free gas-cap testing will be available at the Erie Street Market in Toledo from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. as part of the Ozone Action pollution control campaign, and the Greater Toledo Safe Kids Coalition will offer free bicycle helmet fittings for children. Helmets will be available for purchase.
On Saturday, a group day trip to Chicago on Amtrak is scheduled, with departure from the train station scheduled for 7 a.m. and return to Toledo at 11 p.m. Seats are limited, so reservations are recommended and may be made by calling 419-536-0993.