Peninsula drivers urged to find alternatives to cars 

Finding alternatives to driving this week could win Peninsula residents an iPod, movie passes or a signed baseball by former Giants first baseman J.T. Snow.

"Good for You San Mateo County," a promotion encouraging drivers to leave their cars behind for at least three days this week in the lead-up to Earth Day on April 22, will kick off today at the San Mateo Caltrain station from 2 to 4 p.m. Prizes will be handed out after a drawing to participants who sign up at the event or on the Web at by the end of the day.

"We really want to show for Earth Day how you can improve the air quality by not driving," said Christine Maley-Grubl, executive director of the Peninsula Traffic Congestion Relief Alliance, a nonprofit sponsoring the event.

Of the estimated 3.3 million workday commuters in the Bay Area, about 70 percent drive alone, Maley-Grubl said. The result is that 75 percent of the carbon pollution in air comes from vehicle emissions.

The alliance plans to survey participants after Earth Day to determine how many cars the program resulted in taking off the road, Maley-Grubl said. So far, about 700 people have signed up to participate.

"The average commuter can avoid spewing 30 pounds of greenhouse gases into the air each day just by leaving the car at home, which is almost four tons over the course of one year," said Luna Salaver, spokeswoman for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, another program sponsor.

Not driving for a day can also eliminate almost one pound of smog-forming pollution, Salaver said.

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