'Ditch Your Car Challenge' aims to decrease dependency on personal vehicles

Posted at 1:54 PM, Oct 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-17 19:21:07-04

Could you go 30 days without your car? Lyft, WeGo Public Transit, the Shelby Ave Bike Co and Walk Bike Nashville think you not only can, but should. 

Locals know that Middle Tennessee is an area where people are incredibly dependent on their cars. In Nashville, transit officials say 84 percent of downtown employees drive to work alone most days. And when they get there, they spend an average of $175 per month on parking. 

But that group of transportation organizations is challenging 50 people to take different transportation methods for 30 days straight. It's a program they're calling Ditch Your Car, and 1500 people applied for the challenge.

Fifty were chosen at random. And they're now one third of the way through the month-long program.

Photographer Devin Williams is one of the participants. He lives in Hendersonville, but he goes where his clients need him to, which is often around Nashville.

Wednesday, he hosts a portrait shoot at the 505 building in the heart of downtown. That's just one of many locations where he says it's better not to drive.

"It makes it easier, you know it's 20 dollars to park pretty much anywhere downtown," Williams said. 

To help participants out, each received $300 worth of credit from Lyft, a WeGo Public Transit monthly bus pass and $100 to the Shelby Ave Bike Co for gear and tune-ups. Walk Bike Nashville is offering free classes on biking around town.

The one rule? No personal car allowed.

To get to his photo shoot Wednesday, Williams brought Traffic Anchor Rebecca Schleicher along.

Within five minutes his Lyft arrived, and the two got into the car.

"Have you used your own car yet?" Schleicher asked.

"No I've been Lyfting pretty much everywhere," Williams said. He hasn't biked or used the bus, but with his Lyft credit running low he thinks both will be options for him by the end of the month.

The groups involved say the challenge is a way to get people interested in trying methods other than driving their car.

"We're kind of at a point of critical mass here when it comes to figuring out how to get around," WeGo Spokesperson Amanda Clelland said, citing the increasing congestion in Nashville, "even if you can do that a couple of times a week, it just helps chip away at that problem that were all trying to work through."

Devin says for him: challenge accepted.

"I have a truck but it's in the shop right now and I told my mechanic I'm in really no hurry."

And he plans to keep it up even well past the deadline.

"It'll be cool to say I'm getting through the rest of the year without using my car at all," he said.

Wednesday marked the 10th day of the 30-day challenge. Lyft says the 50 participants took 300 rides in the first week alone.