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20/40/60: The Drive Less Challenge 

A Millennial, a Xennial and an old hippie endeavor to alt-commute to work. Who will log the most miles?

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T

he City of Bend is 35.9 square miles—hardly a megalopolis that makes walking, biking or otherwise getting out of your car to get around a daunting task. And while the bike rack at the Source is often filled with at least a few two-wheeled steeds most workdays, most of us could do better.

So when the statewide Oregon Drive Less Challenge—sponsored by Commute Options here in Central Oregon—came around this year, the Source's 20/40/60 column seemed like an ideal marriage between our desire to challenge ourselves and the challenge to get people out of their cars.

The Drive Less Challenge took place from Sat., Sept. 16 to Sat., Sept. 30—allowing us two whole weeks to parade our alt-commuting prowess. The Source's three participants are all semi-regular cyclists; some more commuter-centric than others. Each of us signed up at the DriveLessConnect.com website to log our trips taken by bike, foot, public transportation or carpool.

Here's what happened when we competed against each other for the title of the Best Source Commuter, 20/40/60 style.

Wyatt Gaines, 20-something

T

he Drive Less challenge was a hit here at the office, and it was a blast watching my coworkers hungrily gobble up miles that otherwise would have been traveled in the famous "big red" work truck or even the less perilous Prius. The vibe was certainly contagious, and after a slow start I dove in. Luckily for me, I don't have the constraints of a young family to keep me from riding, so it was a great opportunity to get back in touch with my bikey self.

Although the event was well-intentioned, I have one critique: this event needs Strava integration. Really, any type of advanced digital component would do. It became tedious to log my miles. I began biking because I was simply interested in biking and finally neglected to log my hours. It appears that the intense logging that the event requires is only suitable for the most vehement cycle-monsters—and while it did get me back on my bike for a spell, I won't be winning any free pair of socks or complimentary stickers. In conclusion, bring back the Drive Less challenge, but spend some time on linking with our favorite fitness apps!

Nicole Vulcan, 40-something

A

s the editor of this fine publication, I am forever trying to fit this mad collection of round pegs (our staff) into the square holes of deadlines, verified facts—and yes, even adherence to protocols such as "use this trip logger to log your trips with Drive Less Connect." Sometimes though, my best efforts fail.

So it was with the effort to actually log our trips with the Drive Less Connect website. It sounds simple: Log in, click 'get started' and then enter the trips you executed by bike, foot, etc. This I did rather diligently, even with the system being less than intuitive to use. I walked, I biked, I took car trips only when there was someone else with me (usually someone who needed a ride to soccer practice), and at the end, I printed a report.

The good news: the system said I did 120 miles of travel and spared the atmosphere 78 pounds of carbon dioxide. The bad news: the report had its glitches. While I logged each bike trip to and from work as a "round-trip" experience, the report stated that on the way to work, that trip was 1.47 miles. On the way home, it logged the same trip as 1.29 miles. Google, meanwhile logs it at 1.5 miles. Mmmmk? Thus, all my efforts to goad this team into logging trips were for naught. "Log your trips!" I said. "It will help us crown a winner in this challenge!" I nagged. In the perpetual quest for real facts, these facts failed me.

If we do this challenge next year, I'm going old school, as Richard did, and installing an odometer on my two-wheeled steed. (But on the upside: with 120 miles allegedly, perhaps erroneously, logged, I still won this challenge. Suck it, round pegs!)

Richard Sitts, 60-something

click to enlarge Richard Sitts odometer hit 2,000 miles this past summer
  • Richard Sitts odometer hit 2,000 miles this past summer

O

ver the past several years I've steeled myself to take on the challenges of commuting and running errands by bicycle in Bend, so the Oregon Drive Less Challenge is just how I roll. Bring it!

I kicked off my challenge by riding in Bend's second annual Open Streets celebration, or as the Mansion on the Hill likes to call it, the "War on Cars." During the Challenge's 15 days, I rode around town on nine journeys in eight different days, ranging from 1 mile to 15.6 miles per outing. Most of the other days I just remained home and did not drive anywhere, as my other employer—Central Oregon Community College—was on break. From the east side of Bend, that's a 15-mile round trip commute that would have enhanced my mileage total. 

On the last day of the challenge I rode to the Old Mill District to the Bend Roots Revival. Riding right up to the front gate sure beats driving around looking for a parking spot! I enjoyed this challenge. It was right up my handlebars, as I have been pedaling the light fantastic for the past 45 years. During the challenge, my rides were missions to grocery stores, the post office, the Source office and friends' houses—trips for which I could have easily jumped into the car. From Sept. 16-30, rather than driving, I rode a grand total of 93.7 miles. And I intend to keep on riding as much as I can.

Fun fact I learned:

If you use alternative transportation (walking, biking, bus or carpool) to shop at Locavore on Third Street you get a punch card and after 10 punches, $5 off your grocery bill.


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