Reduced gasoline costs and carbon emissions, less wear and tear on vehicles, active transportation and daily raffle prizes all have one thing in common—the Drive Less Challenge. The first statewide Drive Less Challenge was a resounding success both across the state and in the Central Oregon region.
Held in October 2013, the Drive Less Challenge called upon Oregonians to try using transportation options such as carpooling, walking, biking, teleworking and using public transit. The effort exceeded the goal of reducing a half million motor vehicle miles by near double. Thousands of Oregonians from across the state eliminated 913,664 vehicle miles in a manner of just 12 days.
The Central Oregon region, from the Columbia River south to the California border, showed a solid commitment to the effort. Over 500 people in the Central Oregon region participated in the 12-day challenge with a total of 3,469 bike trips, 3,683 carpool trips, 192 bus trips, 1,333 walking trips, 329 telework trips and 12 vanpool trips. These actions alone resulted in:
• Reduction of 152,814 drive-alone vehicle miles.
• Elimination of 113,054 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.
• The savings of 5,607 gallons of gasoline.
• A total monetary savings of $38,937 for the 12-day period.
Participants logged their commute miles through the Drive Less Connect website at www.drivelessconnect.com and had the chance to win daily prizes such as a new commuting bicycle, an Oregon mini-vacation gift card, transit passes and gift certificates. Alicia Merrill works at the Deschutes Public Library, and through the Challenge, she won a transit pass, allowing her to utilize Cascades East Transit for an entire year. “I really enjoyed participating in the Drive Less Challenge. The website made tracking the commutes easy. I’m thrilled to win the transit pass and I’ll definitely be participating in the Challenge again next year.”
Kim Curley of Commute Options and local lead organizer for the Challenge adds, “Far surpassing the state’s half million mile reduction goal in this first-time, statewide challenge illustrated the growing interest and use of transportation options. We think the broad involvement really shows how practical transportation options can be in saving families money, improving community health and preserving our high quality of life in Central Oregon.”
Oregon drivers travel an estimated 33.4 billion vehicle miles annually, at a cost of about $1.4 billion in gasoline, resulting in 14.1 metric tons of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. Light vehicle use in the state accounts for 34 percent of Oregon’s total greenhouse gas emissions, so having viable transportation options is a priority in reducing greenhouse gasses.
The Drive Less Challenge happens every fall, so consider participating next year. Commute Options encourages Central Oregonians to participate in transportation options whenever possible. There are many opportunities to save motor vehicle miles year round!
Commute Options promotes choices that reduce the impacts of driving alone. For more information, contact Executive Director, Jeff Monson at 541-330-2647 or visit www.commuteoptions.org.
Katy Bryce is a freelance writer in Bend. www.katybryce.com.