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Denver Takes Another Shot At Better Air Campaign

November 15, 1985

DENVER (AP) _ The city is moving into the second year of a sometimes lighthearted campaign with a serious purpose: to reduce driving in an effort to cut air pollution and perhaps avert the cutoff of millions of dollars in federal funds.

The Better Air Campaign is asking people to leave their cars at home one day a week from today through Jan. 15, and also on days when pollution is at particularly high levels. If this year’s effort is not deemed a success, state officials might impose more drastic measures, such as mandatory driving curbs.

During Better Air’s kickoff Thursday, schoolchildren presented Mayor Federico Pena with an enlargement of a pledge form like the ones they and their parents are signing, promising to do their part for better air. The campaign has received more than 2,000 requests for such pledges, said spokeswoman Laura Bishard.

Advertisements for Better Air include - with author Paul Simon’s permission - a takeoff on the song ″50 Ways to Leave Your Lover″ called ″50 Ways to Leave Your Car.″

They also have some lighthearted suggestions, including ″Date by phone,″ and ″Teach your teen-agers how to walk again.″ But Better Air’s goal is anything but frivolous.

Denver often has the worst carbon monoxide levels in the country and could lose millions of dollars in federal highway funds if it fails to meet clean- air standards by the end of 1987.

Carbon monoxide, mostly from automobiles and trucks, is a particular problem in winter in Denver because a layer of cold air often traps a layer of warm air above the city and keeps pollution from dissipating.

The final report on the 1984-85 Better Air Campaign said miles driven in the Denver area were cut by 1.4 million per day on days when pollution was a particular problem. The goal this year is to cut them by 2.4 million on high- pollution days.

Pena said cars with three or more people can park in a downtown lot for $1 a day during the campaign, and van pools with five or more people can park there free. Businesses are also helping publicize the campaign with their workers.

″We believe there’s a good potential this year will be better than last,″ said Jim Lents, head of the Health Department’s air pollution control division. ″We knew that this program was experimental from the beginning. If we find out that it’s not working with time, we’re going to have to pull out some other strategies,″ he said.

Other alternatives might be a stricter emissions-inspection program or mandatory driving limits, according to Jerry Gallagher, director of the anti- pollution campaign.

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