76°Mostly Cloudy

Car-Free Diet Skeptics Challenge Returns For Second Year

by ARLnow.com December 7, 2010 at 1:47 pm 2,290 60 Comments

A county-sponsored contest designed to help ween residents out of their cars and onto bikes and transit will return for an encore in 2011.

The Car-Free Diet Skeptics Challenge will begin accepting video applications on Jan. 3. The contest, organized by Arlington County Commuter Services, is seeking two drivers who are skeptical about ditching their cars but willing to try it out for 30 days.

Applications will be accepted from Jan. 3 to Feb. 28. In addition to submitting a 30 second to two minute YouTube video, would-be skeptics will be asked to fill out an application, provide photos, and answer questions about why they think they’re the county’s biggest car-free skeptic.

The contestants will be chosen in March by a combination of online voting and scoring by a panel of judges.

Each contestant selected this year will receive a new bike and accessories, hats and t-shirts, maps and transit schedules, a pre-loaded SmarTrip card, a one month membership to Capital Bikeshare and a Flip video camera. The “winner” selected at the end of the contest will get 12 months worth of free transit, a gift certificate to a running store, a one-year membership to Capital Bikeshare and a one year Zipcar membership.

Last year’s contest followed Ross and Todd (pictured), who tracked their car-free progress on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, as well as on their own personal blogs.

  • Jason S

    Doesn’t giving them stuff defeat the point of trying to sell it on financial merits as well? If somebody wants to pay for my Metro card, I would take it more often. Instead, I spend about $2 more per day for parking and a trivial amount for gas to go from Ballston to Rosslyn and save much more than $2 worth of time.

    I would think most people would ditch their cars for free Zipcar and preloaded SmarTrip cards.

    • PurpleFlipFlops

      Heck, I drive from Wilson to Clarendon Blvd sometimes.

      Imagine that trip on Metro!

    • G

      I agree it does defeat the purpose. I run and bike to work because I don’t want to pay the $60 a month to take the bus or $50 a month to park. If I could take the bus for free, I’d probably get a lot less exercise…

      • brian

        sounds like you are under paid!!!

        • G

          Nope just very high student loans!

        • mehoo

          Yeah, he should get a raise so he can pay for a car and a gym membership so he can drive to the gym and ride a stationary bike and walk on a treadmill instead of riding and walking around for free.

          • G

            I have a free gym at work.

          • G

            +1 though!

          • mehoo

            Free gym at work? Stop belly-aching about your student loans then. They’re paying off.

    • Darwin

      Take my commute from Arlington to SE DC. I am within 3 blocks of a metro stop on both ends yet it takes me 40 minutes in the morning to metro at a round trip cost of about $5 as opposed to my 25 minute drive and I spend about $1.50 on gas for the .5 gallons it takes me to go 17 miles round trip! Plus parking is free at my office so why would I ever pay 3 times as much to take almost twice as long to go to work?
      Yay cars!

  • NPGMBR

    Theres no way im gonna give up my car just to make commuting easier for the rich. Thats all this push is about…..getting the little people to make sacrifices that the rich wont!

    • Courthouse Resident

      Can you elaborate on your thought a little please?

      • NPGMBR

        Personally I take Metro Bus to work because my employer pays for my commute but outside of work I take my car because it saves me time, its my own personal space and I’m not dependent on anyone to be where I want to be and when I want to be there.

        Let me re-state what I said earlier. Many people will benefit at the expense of those that give up their cars, not just the rich.

        So what do the carless get for their contribution to society?
        – Unpredictable commutes
        – Unpredictable seating
        – Exposure to the elements
        – The pleasure of riding with people you don’t know
        – Greater exposure to the Cold, FLU and other viruses
        – Longer commute times
        – Less time to spend with family and friends

        Then theres all the stuff people rarely think of. I lived without a car for two years and what I discovered is that a high dependence on Metro means you get a lot less done in the same amount of time with your own vehicle because Metro is not as reliable as it should be and it takes a lot of planning to get from one area, i.e. Arlington to Tyson’s via Metro.

        In addition, God forbid we’d ever have to evacuate the Metro area because all those folks that don’t have their own transportation would be left at the will of their local governments i.e. Hurricane Katrina. When it take 10 to 15 minutes to reach destinations in the District via car versus a minimum of 50 minutes via Metro (not including wait times or the time to walk from home to Metro)…..Its not worth it!

        I applaud those that can live without a car but I’m not scarifying mine.

        • mehoo

          “So what do the carless get for their contribution to society?”

          Depending on your alternatives and your situation, you may also get:

          Lower expenses.
          More exercise.
          Less stress.
          No parking hassles.
          Flexibility and freedom!

    • G

      Though I’m sure that’s not the county’s intention, it’s definitely a plausible outcome. But as of now there aren’t really any financial incentives to ditch the car commute to work. Like a lot of people in this area (even though a car isn’t necessary), I keep a car because I like being able to take weekend trips, pick things up at the store, the added freedom, etc. Excluding the expenses of a car, parking at my work is cheaper than paying the added expense for public transport. My point is, for many who already have a car, parking (at least at work) and gas is likely cheaper for many than public transport, not to mention much more convenient even with traffic. Since I don’t want to pay for parking or public transport I bike or run to work every day anyway.

      • Courthouse Resident

        There are financial benefits to going car-lite and leaving your car at home for work. I mean it really depends on someone’s individual commute. The calculator on their website (http://www.carfreediet.com/go_calc.cfm) is a great place to actually see the differences if a weekly commute is entirely by car vs a combination of teleworking, public transit and biking. That’s great that you can bike or run to work each day! I bike when the weather is warmer and when it doesn’t start getting dark around 4:30!

        • mehoo

          Yes, as your post and others indicate, the more alternatives you have, the more you can mix it up to serve your needs best.

        • brian

          i live in alexandria.. and bike to arlington sometimes..

          trust me, the weight loss, and health gains are BAR NONE to driving or riding metro.

          you can eat anything you want all day at work and still lose weight.

          plus, it makes a couple hours of the day feel like vacation instead of suffering in traffic.

          now if you goto the gym after work, then it’s all good anyways.

          but for you lazy fat diabetic type folk, get the exercise next year and get on a bicycle to work and lose some weight and feel great.

    • mehoo

      Really? Because I use Metro, bus, Zipcar and my bike for me, not for anyone else (I do own a car). It’s cheaper and healthier, and damn is it fun to ride my bike past all that traffic. I don’t do it for “rich people.”

      • G

        Why would you use zip car if you own a car?

        • david

          I used zipcar pretty frequently when I owned a car. If my wife took the car out of town or to the store and I needed to run a quick trip I’d hop in the one in front of my building.

        • mehoo

          One car, two drivers. Every once in a while we both need a car at the same time.

          • G

            I see. Yeah we have one car two drivers also. the solution is always: she gets the car, I figure out my own way… haha

        • Greg

          Also, if you keep the car at home and Metro to work, it’s nice to have a ZipCar membership if you need to get somewhere quickly during the day. For example, I take Metro to work but will ZipCar back to the house if I need to meet the HVAC guy at lunch.

  • Veeta

    I totally get that metro has drawbacks, and I promise I am being inquisitive, not obnoxious, but Ballston to Rosslyn? In addition to the orange line, there is the 38B, plus art buses would get you there. That is one of the most convenient routes in the area. Heck, I walk it from time to time. Just wondering.
    If you hate driving (especially traffic) like I do, it is awesome to live in a place that offers so many alternatives. I miss biking, but I am a wuss about the cold.

    • Jason S

      It’s about time, I can leave later which gives me more time in the morning and I can get home earlier which gives me more time in the evening. Also, people in this area are very rude, particularly on the Metro and I find myself in a better mood when I don’t have to deal with them.

      • Veeta

        I hear ya, I drive sometimes too and am amazed at the time I save. I just have the same reaction to you about drivers.

        • Jason S

          Believe me, I’m no fan of the drivers here, the entire area suffers from an epidemic of inflated self-worth and egocentric attitudes. It just so happens that driving let’s me deal with inconsiderate people for a shorter time.

          Outside of my daily commute, I usually walk or take my bike and hate be associated either as a pedestrian or a biker with the morons that run lights on their bikes or pedestrians that casually step in front of cars at a green light.

          Basic consideration for other people and their desire to go about their business would go far in improving safety and quality of life in our area. It won’t happen.

      • V Dizzle

        What sort of rudeness on the Metro?

        • Jason S

          Pushing and shoving, people standing who should be sitting while people who should be sitting are standing. I can’t fix all of these things and when I have to be around it, it really irritates me. The tourists, which many locals like to look down at with contempt for standing on the wrong side of the escalators are a minor nuisance compared to people who are deliberately rude and self-centered.

          When I use the Metro during the day, I don’t believe I have ever sat down as I would be too ashamed to take a seat which would provide more relief to another.

          • Suburban Not Urban

            +1

        • Westover

          Metro is not an option for me, but when it was it was frustrating. If there is a backup on the road I can honk my horn and vent my anger, but when a train is stopped in a tunnel for ten minutes on a curve and leaning over at a 15 degree angle, there is no way to vent the anger without causing a riot! 😉

          • Jason S

            Honking your horn in anger? How exactly does that help? I’ve never understood that, “I’m frustrated! Let’s make noise!”

          • mehoo

            Honk! Honk honk! HONK HOONK HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONK!!!!

            Honk! Honk! HONK! Honk honk!

            HOOOOOOOOOOONK! Honk. Honk honk!! HONK!!!

            Honk.

          • Westover

            It works for me, great easy relief valve, better than keeping it bottled up and going off on the kids like the neighbor down the street does.

          • mehoo

            Honk! Honk! HONK! Honk honk!

            HOOOOOOOOOOONK! Honk. Honk honk!! HONK!!!

  • charlie

    Although this silly game is paid for by the developers — who do you think is paying more rent ultimately? ? YOU.

  • JimPB

    How are they getting about now?

  • Set the controls

    Progressively-minded or not, the county shouldn’t be indulging in social engineering. It’s getting tiresome and bossy.

  • tuesdayschild

    This is a waste of money. Why is the county paying for this at the time it is cutting library hours and other services? No more Jay pet projects.

    • Courthouse Resident

      This isn’t a pet project of Jay Fisette or any particular board member. This comes from the Arlington County Commuter Services. http://www.commuterpage.com/ACCS/index.htm

      • tuesdayschild

        FROM THAT WEBSITE: For Fiscal Year 2009, ACCS is slated to receive $199,000 in “net tax support.” This is the amount of money that the County General Fund will contribute to the entire ACCS program.

        • Courthouse Resident

          I’m not sure what argument you are making at this point.

      • tuesdayschild

        Also, although I cannot tell for sure, it is not clear to me if all these employees are funded from the county budget generally, or from the ACCS budget that is self generated? Note that there are TWO employees just to promote walking in the county! http://www.commuterpage.com/ACCS/ACCSorg10-10v2.pdf

    • brian

      who uses a library?

      google/and the internet has almost made a library obsolete.. unless you are homeless and need a place to warm up for a few hours.

      • mehoo

        Actually go to a library and see. They’re not exactly empty. Oh, and I’ve got shocking news for you – sometimes the stuff on the Internet isn’t quite accurate or complete.

      • Darwin

        Don’t forget the pedophiles looking for porn and victims on the library’s internet!

        • mehoo

          Right, because pedophiles don’t have home computers.

      • V Dizzle

        They do continue to have books at libraries…and if you read, $0 for a book still beats your Kindle/IPad prices.

    • Jim

      What a waste. Let’s encourage people to drive 100% less, have a decline in tax revenue, ALL WHILE GIVING FREE STUFF AWAY.

      Great idea Arlington.

  • MC

    I don’t consider using a Zipcar as car-free at all. Riding a bike or walking is car-free.

    While I salute everyone who is truly happy without a car, I find that as a approach it isn’t one that brings Arlington together. Unfortunately, all of our main travel corridors were designed with the purpose of getting people to and from DC, not to travel within Arlington itself. People in north and south Arlington should have an easy way to travel between each end without cars, but the Metro doesn’t offer that, buses are infrequent and indirect, and bike paths are a crazy quilt. People on Lee Highway should have an easy time visiting Crystal City, or folks in Sherlington should get to Westover easily, but can’t do it without a car.

    • mehoo

      So you’re not car-free if you take a cab either? Or get a ride with a friend?

      Car-free means not owning a car. It doesn’t mean not ever getting in one.

    • Darwin

      The Amish have an awesome program!

      • Greg

        Columbia Pike Buggy System?

      • mehoo

        The Amish eat something like 10,000 calories a day and never gain weight. Sounds awesome.

        • V Dizzle

          They have cool beards too.

          • mehoo

            And excellent heaters.

  • Suburban Not Urban

    Convenient that they’ll try and convert them in April – not August or January.

  • Darwin

    Just think for every one person we can get away from cars China will replace them 100 times over, yay! Standard of living down for us and environment wrecked any way!

  • 90MpG

    My girl and I ditched our cars, bought 2 scooters, 125cc’s. Not the Chinese crap ones you see smoking up the neighborhood and breaking down every other block. They get up to 65mph and 90mpg. We ride year round, except during snow or icy roads. We also walk, take Metro, and use Zipcar. It has worked well for us, but we are limited to the Beltway area, so we’re looking to get a throwdown used car (under $3k) for out of town trips to visit family, or to go snowboarding. We fit all our groceries and luggage on, park pretty much anywhere we want (for free), get incredible gas mileage, and traffic is no issue, just lane-split to the front of the pack. My transportation budget is about 5% of what it was when I owned a car. I’ve found some nice things to do with that extra chunk of cash. Plus it’s a blast to ride, I often just ride around with nowhere important to go. Go visit the nice folks at “Vespa Arlington”, they’ll steer you the right way.

×

Subscribe to our mailing list