Commuter challenge set to start

Could you commute for two weeks without driving a car — unless you're carpooling?

It's possible for most locals, said Steve Ryan, organizer of the second annual Ashland Commuter Challenge, which begins Saturday.

"This is a community event that everyone can participate in," he said. "Even if you contribute as little as seven miles, we'll take it."

Anyone is invited to participate in the loosely structured challenge and no registration is required. Beginning on Saturday morning, participants will log any miles that they have traveled by foot, bike, bus — or virtually any other way except by driving alone in a car.

"It's really about finding out how possible other modes of transportation are besides driving in a car by yourself," Ryan said. "We're trying to reduce sprawl, congestion effects, and improve safety for people who aren't in cars."

The challenge ends the evening of Sept. 25. Participants will turn in their logs in the days following, by e-mailing them to, faxing them to 773-2877 or dropping them off at Ashland Cycle Sport, 191 Oak St.

Ryan will present the results of the challenge to the City Council at its Oct. 6 meeting.

Although the event is not technically a competition, people can form groups and try to log the most miles.

Last year, a sixth grade class, taught by Therese Van Reenen at Ashland Middle School, logged the most miles in the challenge, racking up 1,049 miles during the two weeks.

"That was the most rewarding thing to come out of it, to see these kids participating," Ryan said.

In total, participants recorded 3,745 sustainable miles last year, he said.

For the first time this year, the challenge will coincide with Car-Free Day, held Sept. 22, and Rogue Valley Transportation District's Try Transit Week, held Sept. 18 through 25.

As they did last year, a group of city officials plan to participate in the challenge, said Derek Severson, an associate planner for the city.

"I think it's fun, first of all," he said. "It reduces vehicle miles traveled and it's better for the livability of community and healthier than driving."

For more information on the challenge e-mail

Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or

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