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Published 8th March 2021, 12:55pm

The Ministry of Commerce, Planning and Infrastructure is encouraging all members of the public to participate in Car Free Week, which will take place from Monday, March 22 to Friday, March 26.

The National Energy Policy initiative, organised by the Ministry, is aimed at creating awareness of alternative transportation modes that will aid in energy conservation and reduce harmful emissions as well as traffic congestion.

Car Free Week is an extension of Car Free Day which the Ministry led in 2019, to encourage civil and public servants to get around without cars and instead carpool, take the bus, ride or walk.

Minister of Commerce, Planning and Infrastructure Hon. Joey Hew said that the National Energy Policy calls for a reduction in greenhouse gas emission and the transportation sector has vast potential for energy efficiency and energy conservation. “Single use vehicles are significant contributors to CO2 emissions. It also leads to the traffic congestion that we experience every day across Grand Cayman. As it relates to the latter, a holistic approach has to be taken to include carpooling, incentivisation of alternative transport, limits on importation of older vehicles and comprehensive public transportation system which government is pursuing. But each individual has to consider how they can support this process,” he emphasised.

Energy Policy Coordinator in the Ministry of Commerce, Planning and Infrastructure Kristen Augustine noted that both the public and private sectors are encouraged to participate in the initiative, “We are inviting everyone to join us by taking the pledge online at www.energy.gov.ky to participate in the event. Companies can also support employees by taking the pledge and supporting work from home, arranging a bus for them to park and ride and proving priority parking for carpoolers or other incentives”.

She further highlighted, “While this is an opportunity to be socially responsible we want to make it fun and exciting for everyone. So we ask interested members of the civil and public service as well as the private sector to complete the pledge form to show your commitment and be entered into a raffle for a chance to win prizes. Download the free Car Free Week logo to print on shirts for your team, and send the flyer to send to your employees, co-workers, friends and family”.

Last year, the Ministry of Commerce, Planning and Infrastructure piloted a hop on hop off George Town shuttle service through its National Energy Policy and George Town Revitalisation Initiative, in an effort to help reduce the number of cars going in and out of the central business district.

In addition to the shuttle service, the Ministry partnered with with Cycle Cayman to provide bicycles for use by civil servants as part of a free three month trial BikeShare programme.

Last month the civil service organised the Cayman Islands Government Responsible Travel Scheme which encouraged civil servants to take the shuttle, carpool or ride a bike and collect points each time to be eligible for incentives and prizes. Thirty six people from over seventeen government departments and agencies participated in the scheme and were rewarded for their involvement.

During Car Free Week, some ways to get around:

Free George Town shuttle - The free hop-on, hop off shuttle has four lines around central George Town and runs Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. There is also an app to track the location of the ‘George Town shuttle’ available on the iPhone app or Google Play store.

Park and Ride - Employers are encouraged to organise a park and ride service for employees. Contact a local tour operator to make arrangements and determine the best location for your staff to park and ride. For more information on arranging a park and ride please email carfreecayman@gov.ky. Masks are required to be worn on the bus per COVID- 19 protocols.

Carpool - Link with neighbours, friends or co-workers to carpool to work. Arrange a carpool for your kids to get to school. Employers are encouraged to arrange priority parking for carpoolers. Download the app “SLACK” to arrange carpooling virtually.

Public Transportation - Utilise the public transportation system to ride to work. See the route map on www.caymantransport.ky

Cycle - Grab your helmet and jump on a bike. Cycle Cayman has bicycles available around the island. Employers can contract Cycle Cayman to provide free bikes for the week for your employees. Visit www.cyclecayman.com

Walk/Run - Take in the more fresh air and walk or run to work.

Work from Home - This is the best way to reduce traffic congestion. Ask your supervisor if you can work from home.

Members of the public interested in Car Free Week can contact carfreecayman@gov.ky for more information.