Commute without your car during Car-Free Month in April

Bike, walk, Metro to campus with Car-Free Challenge 

Faculty, staff and students commuting to all WUSTL campuses are encouraged to leave their sedans, SUVs and minivans in the garage and go “car-free” for two weeks April 16-27 as part of the university’s inaugural Car-Free Challenge during Car-Free Month.

Prospective WUSTL students Alexander Miller (left) and Daniel Garfield ride mini-bikes during the Car-Free Month kickoff event outside the Danforth University Center April 2.
(Credit: Kevin Lowder)

The Car-Free Challenge offers teams of individuals a chance to try alternative means of transportation, track their progress in calories-burned and CO2-saved, and benchmark against other teams.

At the end of the challenge, alternative transportation-themed trophies will be given to celebrate teams’ efforts.

WUSTL community members can sign up in teams of at least five people or sign up as individuals and be placed on a team. The challenge is sponsored by the Office of Sustainability and Parking & Transportation Services.

“The Car-Free Month events, including the Car-Free Challenge, are intended to provide resources and encouragement for individuals interested in kicking the car habit,” says Phil Valko, director of sustainability.

“Each gallon of gas we burn releases approximately 20 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere,” Valko says. “With rising gas prices, rising sea levels and increasing traffic congestion, going car-free is a challenge that more and more individuals are interested in taking on.”

Sarah Maurizi (left), an international affairs graduate student, talks with Phil Valko, director of sustainability, at the kickoff event. (Credit: Kevin Lowder)

Participating in the challenge means shifting one’s commute, even if only for a trial day, or continuing to commute via alternative transportation as part of a team that provides encouragement and support.

To be eligible for the challenge, participants must live off-campus.

Examples of alternative transportation include Metro transit, bicycling and walking. Park-and-ride commuting (driving to a local Metro station and riding transit the rest of the way) also is eligible.

During the competition, participants are asked to log all trips to and from their primary WUSTL campus at

Trophies will be given in four categories:

  • Consistent & Committed: The team with the highest percent of car-free trips;
  • CO2 Destroyer: The team with the greatest total number of car-free miles;
  • The Bowie (“Ch-ch-ch-changes”): The team with the greatest shift in commute; and
  • Largest team.

To learn more about the Car-Free Challenge and to sign up, visit

During April, the Office of Sustainability also will host events promoting bicycling as a mode of sustainable transportation.

Saturday, April 7

Bike Skills Workshop, 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Danforth University Center, Room 248
The event is geared toward those considering commuting to work by bike or simply wanting to learn more about how to ride safely. Trailnet will provide the instructor, refreshments and basic bike tools. They will review basic bike skills etiquette in the classroom and on the road. Participants must bring a bike. The workshop fee is $10. This event is open to the first 10 people who register at

Wednesday, April 11

Spring Bike Tune-Up, 11 a.m.–3 p.m., North Courtyard of Danforth University Center
Big Shark Bicycle Co. will provide free quick tune-ups for students, faculty and staff on campus. Big Shark also will provide discounts on a full tune-up that can be redeemed at its shop. The Office of Sustainability will also be on hand to sign up individuals for the Car-Free Challenge.

Sunday, April 15

Tour D’Onut, 8 a.m.-12 p.m., meet at bottom of Brookings Stairs
A bike tour of independent donut shops in the St. Louis area will leave from the Danforth Campus at 8 a.m. and visit five donut shops before returning back to campus around noon. Helmets are required, and bikes must be in working condition. Participants will be required to sign a release at the beginning of the ride and must be 18 or older (no children).

Monday, April 16

Car-Free Challenge Breakfast Kick-Off, 9–11 a.m., North Courtyard of Danforth University Center
Car-Free Challenge team members and leaders will be invited to a free breakfast. Others can sign up for the Car-Free Challenge at the breakfast and get a free T-shirt.

Monday, April 30

Car-Free Challenge Happy Hour, 5 p.m., Goldfarb Commons
The Office of Sustainability will celebrate those who participated in the Car-Free Challenge and award trophies to teams in four different categories. Food and drinks will be provided.

For more information about the Car-Free Challenge or any WUSTL alternative transportation activities, email the Office of Sustainability at