Walk or drive? New service compares calories to CO2

Walking is the ultimate green mode of transport and you know you need the exercise -- but the car is so much easier. It's a difficult decision for some but a new service that launches in the U.S. on Monday might help you make the right choice by comparing the number of calories you'll use walking versus the amount of Carbon Dioxide emitted by driving.

The data will be provided in an update to the Navitime service, a route-mapping system that's accessible from PCs or four models of Windows Mobile 6.0 smartphones: the HTC Touch Cruise and Trinity, the Motorola Moto Q and the Samsung Blackjack II. A Java version is planned for later this month.

For example, suppose you're at Yankee Stadium in New York and want to get to the Empire State Building. Type that into the Navitime software and you'll get a number of choices back.

Route 1 has you hopping in your car to drive the 9.2 miles. It will take an estimated 18 minutes and result in about 7.7 pounds (3.5 kilograms) of CO2 emissions.

Route 2 has you first walking a third of a mile -- and burning 26 kcal in the process -- to the 161 St. Yankee Stadium subway stop then jumping on the train line for a 23-minute journey to the 34 St. Herald Square station. Then it's a 0.2 mile walk -- and 20 kcal burn -- to the Empire State Building for a total journey time of 37 minutes.

Navitime is based in Tokyo and operates a popular service that's accessible through most cell phones in Japan. It recently began its expansion into the U.S. market and the service is available at no cost until the end of September. The PC version and smartphone application can be accessed from www.navitime.com.

CO2 emissions aren't currently included for the rail journey because Navitime doesn't have enough information on U.S. subway transport to provide the estimates. Subway and rail cars are generally heavier and more polluting than those in Japan so the local calculations cannot be applied, Navitime said. However it plans to add CO2 emissions data for rail journeys soon.

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