Want to learn about the latest in alternative transportation — and win an iPod, too? Then head over to the Alternative Energy & Transportation Expo, happening this weekend in Santa Monica, by taking alternative transportation, of course.

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When: Friday, Oct. 2 and Sat., Oct. 3, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. both days
Where: Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, 1855 Main St., Santa Monica
Cost: Free!

Take the Metro to the Alternative Energy & Transportation Expo, and you can enter a drawing to win a free iPod! After all, though often referred to as AltCarExpo, the event isn’t just about the latest electric cars — though newfangled four-wheelers do tend to be the most popular feature of the event. Debuting at the event are new and converted vehicles like Goodearth’s New 1939 Ford Coupe, Wheego, and other nifty cars. The usual suspects — Honda, General Motors, Toyota, Ford and BMW — will also be there.

But simply switching to electric or alternative fuel cars doesn’t solve the problems of congestion, unwalkable neighborhoods, public spaces lost to car parking, and a host of other problems associated with the automobile. AltCarExpo’s got a section for public transportation, bicycles, and other alternatives to automobiles, too — which explains why I was on a panel put together by the Big Blue Bus at last year’s event.

AltCarExpo’s also always offered free bike valet service (versus $8 car parking) — and this year, will feature an expanded bike section, featuring BikeWeddings.com — a marriage-on-the-go service founded by Westside notary and minister Elizabeth Oakes, who’ll bike over to officiate your marriage and perhaps lead your wedding guests on a two-wheeling wedding parade….

Attendees can learn how to fix their own bikes, take test drives in both showcase cars and practical vehicles, peruse the exhibition hall to see what new technologies are on or on their way to the market, calculate their own ecological footprints, and eat low-carbon-footprint meals at the Sustainable Foods Cafe.

Plus, speakers and panel sessions throughout the event will tackle all manner of alt-transit questions, ranging from practical matters like a review of existing vehicle and energy rebates and tax credits to tough questions about emerging fuels and technologies that bring up their own eco-challenges.

Since the event’s free, no RSVP required, all you’ll need to figure out is an alternative transit mode to get you to the Santa Monica Civic Center. If you elect to take the Metro, remember transit info’s easy to get via Google Maps now — and good luck in the iPod drawing!

Image courtesy of AltCarExpo

AltCarExpo: Not just for alt-car fans
The free AltCarExpo will give Southern Californians a look at the latest greener cars -- and car-free modes of transport.