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Policy wonks float down the Grand River on final day of “Smart Commute” challenge

Pair will end workday launching canoe from Impression 5 Science Center
Jun 5, 2009
The week-long Smart Commute challenge in Lansing witnessed perhaps its most offbeat entry yet when a pair of environmental policy specialists from the Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) canoed the Grand River to reach their Lansing office.

The pair will depart for home shortly after 4:30 today from the parking lot of the Impression 5 Science Center, where their canoe is chained to a bike rack.

David Gard, MEC’s energy program director, biked to the Sycamore Park home of MEC Land Programs Director Brad Garmon early this morning. From there, the pair launched a 17-foot Old Town canoe for the 45-minute downstream commute.

The maritime adventure is part of the Smart Commute challenge sponsored by the Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council. Workplaces in various size categories track their employees’ commutes, giving credit for carpooling, biking, public transportation and telecommuting. The Michigan Environmental Council is the defending champion from 2008 in the Smart Commute’s “small” organization category.

“We’ve got a title to defend, after all,” said Garmon, whose house is about 100 yards from the river. “And the traffic’s not nearly as bad. One delay during a baby duck backup, but otherwise we were on cruise control the whole way.”

Gard, a U.S. Navy veteran, said the canoe was smaller than the 620 foot amphibious command ship – the USS Mount Whitney – he served on, but no less efficient.

“She was nimble, responsive, and most importantly maintenance-free,” Gard said. “The upstream trip home may be a bit more strenuous, but we’re up for the challenge.”

Smart Commute Challenge:
Hugh McDiarmid Jr.
Michigan Environmental Council
RELATED TOPICS: transportation policy
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