City launches ‘Car Free Takoma’ challenge

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Takoma Park launched ‘Car Free Takoma’ last month, a five month city-wide challenge aimed at getting residents to form new habits around using their cars less.

The challenge is one of many steps on the city’s sustainable energy action plan. The 17 point plan outlines key strategies the city can implement to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

While the challenge has an ambitious goal, city sustainability manager Gina Mathias, thinks the challenge should also be fun for residents.

“Studies show that people who ride bikes are happier,” Mathias said.

Car Free Takoma also offers residents a sense of community that Mathias thinks could encourage a larger number of citizens to participate.

“People are excited, it’s always good to have a new reason to form a new habit,” Mathias said.  “People [who don’t drive] are excited to have friends and neighbors join them.”

The five month challenge kicked off with Bike to Work Day, which included two pitstops for participates to get t-shirts, win swag and get excited about the challenge.

Takoma Bicycle owner, Bruce Sawtelle, hosted one of the pitstops.

“We had over 100 people stop by,” said Sawtelle. “It was a great time.”

While biking is one way to stay car free, it isn’t the only way residents can participate.

Public Works is offering information on ride sharing and busing to anyone interested.

Residents can also opt for the oldest form of transportation – walking.

“[Takoma Park] is only two miles, you can walk anywhere in the city in under an hour,” Mathias said.

Car Free Takoma will host a Bike Seminar for novice and experienced riders on July 11 in the community center auditor at 7 p.m. The entire challenge will run until October 19.

Any residents or those working in Takoma Park who would like to sign up can do so here.