October Car-Free Month draws to a close

Will Fischer, sustainability coordinator in the Office of Sustainability, demonstrates and explains a bicycle “fixit” station in front of Olin Library to Sharon Corcoran, coordinator for undergraduate studies in the Department of Psychology. (Credit: Evie Hemphill)

During October, more than 180 faculty, students and staff members participated in WUSTL’s second car-free challenge. Throughout the month, participants were encouraged to leave their cars in the garage and go “car-free” by using public transit, walking, biking and carpooling. More than 20 new teams were created across the WUSTL campuses and thousands of car-free miles were recorded.

Car-Free Month activities included free bicycle tune-ups provided by Big Shark Bicycle Co., a group bicycle ride to the Tower Grove Farmers’ Market, and how-to demonstrations at the newly installed bicycle fixit stations on the Danforth and Medical campuses.

All participants in the challenge received a free t-shirt, and the most committed teams squared off to compete for alternative transportation-themed trophies to celebrate their efforts. The results of the competition are as follows:

Consistent & Committed: Team with the highest percent of car-free trips
#1 WUSTL — Single Commuter Group — Arts & Sciences (82.1 percent)
#2 Biblioriders (78.5 percent)
#3 Dine ’n Ride (64.1 percent)

CO2 Destroyer: Team with the greatest total number of car-free miles
#1 Biblioriders (5,439.9 miles)
#2 PBS — Go Green (1,429.06 miles)
#3 Med Creative Commutes (1,213 miles)

The BOWIE (ch-ch-ch-changes): Team with the greatest shift in commute
#1 Single Commuter Group — Medicine (eight members who prior had used car 50 percent or more)
#2 Biblioriders (four members who prior had used car 50 percent or more and two members who prior had used car 100 percent)
#3 Car Free-dom Riders, Med Creative Commutes and Single Commuter Group — Law (each had four members who prior had used car 50 percent or more)

Largest Team
#1 Biblioriders (19 members)
#2 Car-Free Honey Badgers (11 members)
#3 Car Free-dom Riders (nine members)

“It was exciting to see so many people committed to reducing their driving habits,” says Director of Sustainability Phil Valko. “Each gallon of gas we burn releases approximately 20 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere. 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.”

Jessica Klingler Cissell, music library assistant and a member of the Biblioriders, encouraged her teammates by explaining how participating in the previous car-free challenge had improved her life.

“As a result of the April Car-Free Challenge, I started biking to work and absolutely love it,” she says. “ I save putting 100 miles per week on my car, I cancelled my gym membership as my commute is my daily exercise, I no longer pay for a yearly parking pass, and I run errands at lunch and never have to worry about finding a parking space when I return. I have lost 10 pounds so far, despite rewarding myself with sweet treats for full weeks biked, and I am doing my part to help the environment.”

Another member of Olin Libraries Biblioriders team, writer and editor Evie Hemphill, also hopes to keep the fun going by getting her team to continue to log their miles through shiftyourcommute.com. Even though Car-Free Month is over, they will continue to challenge themselves to reduce their carbon footprint and have invited others to join the team as well.

The Office of Sustainability will continue to host bi-annual competitions, with the next Car-Free Month taking place in April 2013. In the meantime, stay tuned for related activities this winter by signing up for the Office of Sustainability newsletter by visiting http://sustain.wustl.edu or clicking here.