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Posted by on Feb 17, 2013 in Commuter, General, Profile, Transit | 6 comments

Car Free February Challenge

No Car, No Problem
A friend of mine, Brent, has challenged himself to not drive his car for the entire month of February and write about his experience along the way in his blog. To some this may seem like an incredible feat, and others like just a regular ol’ February. What interested me in his challenge was his enthusiasm to jump into it with both feet and learn how to deal with obstacles along the way. I asked him a few questions about it and you can read more about his daily experiences in his blog.

The Rules:
- I can not drive my car; or anyone’s car for that matter
- My main modes of transport will be Lynx bus, my bike, my own two feet, and carpooling as a passenger (should the need or opportunity arise)
- I must track the length of travel in time, miles, and cost.

Before the challenge, how often did you drive to get where you were going? 
Pretty often. I mean, daily really. I only took my bike on trips to some local coffee shops when I knew I was just going up to read a book or do some work. The rest of my trips all included me driving my car, even if it was just me, and just around the corner.

What spurred your decision to try going car free for February?
Honestly, it just came to me as an idea one day in December. Most people would find excuses not to do it, instead I kept finding more reasons to do it. I talk a lot about sustainability, organic farming practices, recycling, etc. and yet I haven’t tried living with out a car yet. Most trips I take (with the exclusion of work) are a 10-20 min bike ride each way, which is probably only 5-10 minutes longer than if I took my car.

What are the normal trips you take throughout the week?
This month, most of my bike rides are under 5 miles, anything beyond that is usually by bus or carpool ride. About 4 times a week I take a bus to the Florida Mall.

What have been the biggest challenges so far?
Timing. Figuring out the buses was a challenge at first. You have to learn how early you want to be versus how late you’re able to be. Some trips it doesn’t matter, as long as you arrive. Others, you’re biting your nails hoping you do not hit any traffic or a lot of pickups and drop offs.

With biking, I’ve had to start eating more. I ate pretty light before this month, but I was burning through all my calories pretty quickly. I would be drained by the end of the day.

How difficult has it been to adapt to the changes?
I’d say the adapting has gone smoother than one might expect. There are days I loathe having to wake up earlier, other days I feel like my legs need to recover. Honestly though, it has changed my perspective about this city. I’ve gotten out of my little “car bubble” and interacted with the city in more than a one-off bike ride, but in a daily need to rely on the roads for biking and use of the bus. I think after this month I’ll continue to take my bike if its under 5 miles, but it’s really a gift to be able to use my car in longer distances.

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Check out Brent’s whole experience here and read about the rest of the challenge in the coming weeks.

What experiences do you remember when trying out a new form of transportation for the first time? How difficult was it to adapt? What’s stopping you from doing your own car free challenge? Discuss in the comments!

6 Comments

  1. My wife and I have lived downtown since early December of last year. We have been car free since then and it’s worked out just fine. Everything we want and need is within a 3-5 mile radius. Although, I must admit that there is an advantage in that I work from home and my wife works downtown.

    When we find that we do need a car because we have to get somewhere out of the way or when the weather is bad, we either ask a friend with a car for help (and buy them lunch or something) or use a taxi. These occasional transportation expenses are easily justified with the money we save by not owning a car.

  2. I’ve found my world getting smaller and smaller since living downtown and taking LYNX every day to work. There’s just no real need to go that far for anything and I love having more options.

    Ridership on LYNX was up again this year around 10%, we broke 30 million riders for the first time. Those pesky riders though affect our on-time performance as Brent notes – all those ons and offs. It’s a good problem to have I think. Just wish LYNX had the ability to serve more people in a more efficient/convenient way.

    Great article, Brent has me thinking. The only driving I do on a regular basis is to the Y in the wee hours of the morning. Frankly, I could probably skip the Y if I did even more active transportation. I’m within a 3 mile walk of work – which I do for exercise 3 days a week. hmmmmmmmm

  3. No thanks to a dead car and no extra $$ to repair it I have relied on my bikes for the past 8 months for everything ( w/ the exception of having to take the dog to the vet a few times the last few months -borrowed my brothers car for that)- Living in the downtown area my work is only a few blocks away and everything else is close enough to ride or walk to -I have been an avid bicyclist for over 20 years and I always wonder why I didnt resort to the bikes sooner….
    I just recently converted a barely used child’s bike trailer(craigslist) into a cargo trailer for those trips to the grocery store and pet store (big bag of dog food) Now im going tos ee how long i can go car free- while saving all the extyrta money to fix the old car or buy something used in the furture

  4. question – to all of your Lynx bus riders, is there a card I can buy that we put value on, as we go? I only see online where you can buy specific cards for 7 days, 1 day unlimited, etc.

  5. No reloadable fare cards, yet. LYNX is working with SunRail to develop a smart card system where we can reload our cards and use them on SunRail, VOTRAN and LYNX. It sounds easy on paper, but it’s a fairly complicated process since the different agencies have differing fare policies plus they need to work out how people pay for transfers between systems, protect everyone’s information, etc.

    It’s actually going to be very nice once it’s up and ready.

    • Thank you thank you for this information. The smart card system you describe sounds great. So as of right now, you have to buy a new card every time you ride, if you’re using the bus on a day by day basis? And what if you aren’t near the downtown center?