Central Arkansas Residents Encouraged To "Ditch The Keys"

May 20, 2016

Air quality typically suffers in the summer months as ground level ozone increases.
Credit Metroplan / Metroplan

Convoys of cyclists will take to the streets of central Arkansas Friday morning as the kick off event for “Ditch the Keys” week. “Bike to Work” day is a national event, which has been incorporated into a regional campaign to draw awareness to, and improve air quality in Little Rock and the surrounding cities.

Metroplan, Rock Region METRO, Bicycle Advocates of Central Arkansas, and several other organizations are supporting the event by encouraging biking or walking to work.

“With our North Little Rock Fit 2 Live health initiative we are very supportive of Ditch the Keys week because it provides people the motivation and the opportunity to try out what it’s like to get around in an active fashion,” said Fit 2 Live coordinator Bernadette Gunn Rhodes.

Transportation options being highlighted as part of the campaign include telecommuting, carpooling, biking, walking, and taking public transit. On Wednesday, May 25, Rock Region METRO is offering free bus rides. It’s hoped the efforts will reduce ground level ozone, which is harmful, especially to those with asthma or other respiratory issues.

“Ozone is an air pollutant, a regulated air pollutant,” said Jim McKenzie, executive director of Metroplan, “and we in central Arkansas have kind of been on the bubble of being attainment or non-attainment for a number of years and so we’ve been working on a public awareness program during the ozone season which runs from May through September.”

For those wishing to join a “Bike to Work” convoy on Friday, the schedule and contact information for organizers can be found here. And the schedule for the week’s events can is posted on the Metroplan website.

For more information on air quality in central Arkansas, including updated ground level ozone measurements, the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality posts daily counts.