Commute Smart, Harford [Editorial]

The average commute in Harford County is about a 20-mile round trip

Harford County's roads get ever more crowded.

There are a myriad of reasons why, but the only thing that matters is that they're too crowded and the county government is trying to do its part to get some motorists off the roads, especially during the peak hours commuting hours.

Harford Commute Smart, as it's called, is part of the Office of Economic Development's effort to cut traffic, or at least try to limit its endless growth.

"One person per car is not the only option for employees to get to work in Harford County," Alan Doran, the county government's rideshare coordinator, said in a story in Friday's pp&t section of The Aegis.

To that end, Harford Commute Smart is going on the road, literally, to bring its message of changing commuting habits to any employer in the county that wants a presentation to its employees.

"Given the potential benefits, I encourage Harford County employers to learn more by hosting a free presentation," Harford County Executive Barry Glassman said in a statement. "Helping Harford County 'commute smart' is good for employees and the environment, and it's good for business."

The key elements of the Commute Smart program are car and vanpooling, mass transit options and bicycling.

The average commute in Harford County, according to the rideshare program, is about a 20-mile round trip, making many commutes the perfect length for bicycling to work. That's easier said than done, obviously, but there's an element of the program that makes participating in Commute Smart worth at least considering.

There's a guaranteed ride home offer being made to anyone who regularly gets to work at least twice a week via carpool, vanpool, transit, bike or by walking. The offer is a free and reliable ride home four times per year for smart commuters who, because of last-minute changes in their work schedules, can't get home the same way they got there.

According to the rideshare program, "commuting options are becoming an important part of many employee benefit plans, and such programs are eligible for federal tax deductions."

As more and more young people reach driving age and join the workaday world, even part-time as they commute to Harford Community College or some other institute of higher learning, the everyday impact on traffic is more and more obvious.

Commute Smart is not the be-all, end-all to Harford's traffic problems, but it is a modest start. Admitting there's a problem, after all, is said to be the first and, perhaps, the most important step in fixing that problem.

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