Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Leave Your Car At Home Week

I'm already thinking of next September's events! September 14-18th is Car Free Week. Well, for us it is because that's when, I think, WPIRG is holding their week of no cars. Internationally, World Carfree Day is September 22nd. In New Mexico, bicycle week is May 11-16! Shouldn't it just be every week?

Last year we ticketed cars with some information and a request for donations to go towards carbon offsets. Out of a three lots full of cars ticketed, one kind teacher offered a dollar. I included the ticket information below, but I'm not sure that was our best idea. However, it did work many years ago. Maybe it just needed much more advertising around it to get people willing to cough up a buck or two. Or prizes for biking and walking.

This year I'm hoping to get a bike rally off the ground. There's an imposing amount of paper work to file through for this kind of activity - because kids can get hurt and all - so I'm starting now. We have a great trail running a good length of the city. They can stick to that and then do some activities for points in designated lots off the trail.

For the activities, we're hoping to get old hideous dresses from a second hand shop, cut them short for easy biking, and have one activity be dressing up the tallest member of the team in a relay of sorts. In another activity, of course we have to get them all riding tricycles through an obstacle course. Maybe another would provide them with a few bike parts that they have to attach to a bicycle to complete it, then ride it in a lap to prove it all works. And another could be a scavenger hunt through some small independent stores they might not know about. Something like that.

Another activity could pit teams against one another with rules-of-the-road questions. How old do you have to be to stop wearing a helmet? What three things must be attached to the bike to avoid a $50 fine? That might work.

Maybe we can have the rally day focus on cycling and offer a muffin and juice to anyone that bikes to school. Ironically our bikes racks are right beside the smoking area (which isn't technically on our property because that's against board policy). It would be nice to get that moved to a handier, safer, and smoke-free location.

We get a ton of parents dropping off kids in the mornings. Granted some of them live a ways off, over five km, but many don't. We might put together a "How to get your kids off cars" pamphlet to hand to parents as their kid leave kisses them good-bye (ya right).

Any other car-free ideas?

Here's the tickets we used. I wrote the following in four columns, then copied double sided. Alter and format as necessary. I used a very small font like they have on real tickets:

Front side:


Vehicle Infraction

This form of transport incurs economic costs on the city which have not been included in the retail price of your vehicle. Your operation of this vehicle makes you personally liable for the following:

Climate Change
Conflict Over Oil
Depletion of Non-Renewable Resources
Environmental Clean-Up Costs
Time Wasted in Gridlock
Hindering Bicycle and Pedestrian Activities
Noise Pollution
Smog-Related Health Problems

The Following Was Used to Calculate Your Fine:

Each time a mid-size car travels 1,200 km, it emits one ton of carbon dioxide. The average car emits five tons each year.

To offset this amount of GHGs, you could...

Convince one person to switch from a large SUV to a hybrid for one year.
Run one small wind turbine for one year.
Plant a Douglas fir tree each year.
Or pay a carbon offsetting company to do the work for you for only $80/year.
Start by donating a few dollars to begin to offset the GHGs emitted in car travel to KCI.

Back side:


All fines (donations) are payable to the OneEarth club for the environment and social justice and can be levt in Ms. Snyder's mailbox or given directly to a OneEarth member.

Today is Internation Car-Free Day. We hope it will be a showcase for just what our cities might look like, feel like, and sound like without cars.


(include logo above from the World Carfree Network or something of your own)

Note: Failure to change our transportation habits may subject us all to a grim future

Sources: All facts are from


Margaret said...

You have an interesting site and I will make it's name available to my students. We live in the country and while schools are turning green, non-school residents are slower to be environmentally aware.

We do have a farmers market starting this summer and recycling is improving.

Marie said...

Hi Margaret - I always find younger people soak this stuff up so much faster. It seems change is always easier for people in the midst of a growth spurt.

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