Will you take up the challenge for Car Free Feb on Tuesday 27 February 2018?
Will you take up the challenge for Car Free Feb on Tuesday 27 February 2018? Marc Stapelberg

Get those legs moving for car free February

THIS month is Car Free February and today Northern Rivers Buslines, Blanch's Bus Company, Busways, Brunswick Valley Coaches, Casino Bus Services and Busways Grafton will have free bus services on offer.

An initiative of Social Futures, Car Free February encourages people to catch a bus, ride a bike, walk or carpool with a colleague or friend.

"In regional areas we are so used to getting in the car to go anywhere that many of us never really consider public transport as an option," Social Futures' transport development officer Alex Lewers said.

But just how realistic is catching public transport here?

This is a little difficult to ascertain given the assortment of different bus companies operating in the region. Transport NSW was unable to produce a master map detailing all the options on one map, but individual route maps are available by following the links at goingplaces.org.au or transportnsw.info. Adults are also permitted to utilise the school bus system at the discretion of the driver.

Car pooling on the Northern Rivers is highly effective, with many using Facebook and friendship groups to coordinate the driving. The Carpooling Byron Shire Facebook group is one option and there is also a Northern Rivers Carpool website nrcarpool.org. The website claims that if you travel 100km a day then you could save around $750 a year in fuel by sharing just two trips a week.

For some walking, or even walking part-way is an option.

Northern Star Journalist Joanne Leslie gets a lift in to Lismore, near the hospital, and then enjoys the physical and mental health benefits of her daily 45minute, mostly uphill, stroll.

"Because I sit at a desk all day, it just clears my mind," said Ms Leslie who does a lot of sub-editing and design work on papers throughout Northern NSW and Queensland.

"I really like it in the rain, I like it in all weather. In hot weather it does get a bit hot and sweaty."

Sweat isn't something Ms Leslie is afraid of. She is currently training for the Camino de Santiago trail, an 800km pilgrimage in northern Spain, so she loads up her backpack with extra weight and makes the pilgrimage to the Northern Star each day.

"I'm 60...so anyone can walk to work," she said.

Social Futures are running a competition for those participating in Car Free February next Tuesday.

Prizes include; $500 Flight Centre voucher, 12-month premium Spotify vouchers, and weekly bus tickets.

To enter the competition, simply post a selfie going 'car free' at www.goingplaces.org.au/carfreefeb/   with the hashtag #carfreefeb by midnight on February 28.



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