In 2009, 120 participants in Menlo Park replaced over 5,000 car miles with alternative “green” trips, reducing local CO2 emissions by over two tons. In 2010, 280 participants in four communities replaced 29,000 miles, equivalent to taking 55 cars off the road. In 2011, with 13 communities participating in the Drive Less Challenge, organizers expect a substantial increase in both participants and green miles.
The Drive Less Challenge, which kicks off on April 22 and continues to May 5, encourages participants to try out alternative, non-car transportation like public transit, biking, walking, and carpooling. The goal is to promote health, quality of life, and environmentally sustainable transportation behavior by reducing solo car trips.
Local Drive Less Challenge Leah Strichartz has been working with local public and private schools, most of which are on spring break this week, to put teams together and has had good response. Last week Laurel School students (two pictured) painted promotional posters over two days’ recesses.
Local merchants are offering prizes to top performers who live or work in Menlo Park as well as Burlingame, Cupertino, East Palo Alto, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Morgan Hill, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Redwood City, San Carlos, San Francisco and Sunnyvale. An Awards Party will be held on Saturday, May 21, 7-9pm at Kepler’s Books & Magazines, 1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park.
Modeled after social games and behavior change programs in fitness and health, the Drive Less Challenge encourages finding practical alternatives to driving by means of social encouragement, competition and personal goal-setting. Participants form into groups of their choice, like work place, school, neighborhood, and church, with everyone’s progress visible to all.
“The Drive Less Challenge’s unique on-line tool makes it a fun experience where you can track your trips, see how you’re doing compared to friends and neighbors, and see how your community is doing against others,” said Adina Levin, of the Menlo Park Green Ribbon Citizens’ Committee and founder of the Drive Less Challenge.
Participants can follow along and share their experiences with friends and colleagues on Facebook. Direct volunteer, donation, and general inquiries to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Sign up and share your story on the Drive Less Challenge website.
Photo by Leah Strichartz