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Meet Laura Benton-Horwood, Smart Commuter of the Month

May 23 2018

Laura lives in Portsmouth and bikes or walks to her job as a librarian at the Portsmouth Public Library.

Why commute sustainably?  It’s been a big part of my life ever since I graduated from school. I’ve been lucky enough to live in places I could commute sustainably to work.  But I’ve also tried to make it a priority in my life.   My husband and I don’t own a car by choice.  I only live a 7 minute walk to work; before I had a 45 minute to an hour bus ride to work.

Did you have any barriers to commuting smart?  I’ve been really lucky to find work on a bus route or close to home.  The biggest barrier is the car culture in New England.  I used to live in Boston where it’s more normal and acceptable not to own a car…it’s a more pain than anything else.   Up here we don’t know anyone else who’s car free and that involves a little more explaining to people and you encounter resistance.  That’s part of it – being an advocate at all times which is difficult.

Any advice to others?  One of the things I like about CommuteSMART Seacoast is that it really encourages small steps, which are the key.  Someone is rewarded and encouraged if they’re choosing to only ride their bike one day a week or just do this Challenge and car share with somebody.  Also there’s something to be said about radically changing your life.  It’s so rewarding to put a line in the sand and not own a car.  It’s a huge decision that goes hand in hand with being vegan and shopping ethically.

Why do you participate in the challenge?  For me, I’m already walking to work and biking to work.  I like being part of a bigger group…showing that it is possible and to really advocate for commuting smart.  It’s a nice bonus to see how much money I’m saving and how far I’m traveling as well.

What area the benefits to the library to have a team? I really like that it starts conversations between me and my co-workers.  That we are spending more time talking about the choices we’re making.  I can say, “Hey, this is how I do it or have done it in the past.  If you need help, like in navigating the COAST bus route can help.”  Starting the conversation is huge.

Anything else?  I want to say thank you to CommuteSMART Seacoast and “get out there and ride”.  It’s the most fun experience!”