Throughout April, the City of Memphis will host a 30 Day Car-Free Challenge encouraging residents to park their cars at home and get around the city using any number of alternative transportation options.
Any Memphis resident can register to take part in the challenge, for any amount of time. Commitments to being car-free can range from one day to 30 days, depending on an individual's ability and resources. Prize drawings will be made each week from the pool of residents registered in the challenge.
"We know that an increasing number of residents are choosing to live in Memphis and get to the store, to work, to school, and to other places without a car." said Mayor A C Wharton Jr.
"We also know that reduced automobile use leads to improved air quality, reduced traffic congestion, and a reduction in the public costs of road infrastructure, parking, and health care. This challenge will helps us to showcase these possibilities in a fun and safe way."
In 2012, Bicycling magazine named Memphis the "Most Improved City for Cycling" after naming it to the "worst" list in both 2008 and 2010. Also, in 2013, Memphis became the 500th city in the nation to pass a Complete Streets Policy insuring that as future projects are delivered, the needs of persons using bicycles, transit, or pedestrian means of transportation are equally considered in design decisions along with automobiles.
A spotlight will be shown on 18 Memphis residents that will be parking their cars for the entire month of April, and using a variety of alternatives, including bicycling, walking, public transportation and carpooling. The residents were outfitted with "Car-Free Survival Kits" containing common items needed to make car-free living convenient and easy.
These "model citizens" will be sharing their experiences, both the good and the bad, through daily blogs kept on the challenge's website, www.carfreememphis.com.
"We're hearing more stories from residents that are making short trips without their cars," says Kyle Wagenschutz, Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator for the City of Memphis.
"However, these stories are often shared with a backstory of how long it took to gather the information and muster the courage to leave the car at home for the first time. Our 'model citizens' will be a great resource for understanding what barriers the city still needs to overcome to make traveling without a car more efficient and convenient."
Anyone can register to take part in the challenge by visiting http://www.carfreememphis.com. Registration is free and all ages are welcome to participate.
The website contains a number of helpful links and resources for commuters looking to leave their cars at home as well as information on how employers can make it easier to encourage their employees to travel car-free. Information will also be available on the City's Bike/Ped Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/BikePedMemphis.