ECO CHALLENGE: How long could you go without a car?

With pumped up gas prices and a broken down vehicle, one Des Moines couple ditched their car. A metro organization says you could win a prize if you do the same.

This may look like a leisurely stroll. Jennifer Hansen says, “It’s kind of like a date.” But, for Hansen and her husband John, it’s their way to work. She says, “We’ve kind of put ourselves on an eco-challenge that our Land Rover put us up to.”

The Hansens say their SUV broke down a little more than two months ago. Instead of finding four wheels, they decided to use their two feet. Mrs. Hansen says, “I thought at first, this might be a headache and this might be a pain because my car’s in the shop, but I think we’ve both lost weight.”

She says her five minute drive from their Sherman Hill home to her East Village store Eden now takes twenty-five minutes. But, they get a work out, save money and spend quality time together. Hansen says, “We both have high paced days, multi-tasking. It kind of clears our head in preparation for the day on the walk to work and then kind of decompresses us at night.”

The Hansens say their challenge hasn’t been that challenging. It just takes some planning. Mrs. Hansen says, “Just go to bed earlier, plan your day, plan your shoes, plan your outfit.”

Glenn Lyons, President of the Downtown Community Alliance, says, “I suspect there’s about 10 percent of downtown workers getting to work some other way.”

Lyons says that 10 percent of workers are walking, biking, hoping on a bus, carpooling or finding some other way to get to work besides driving alone. He says an alternative commute can help ease congestion and reduce your carbon footprint.

Drive Time Des Moines started the Rest Your Car incentive program when crews rebuilt I-235 to get people to leave their cars at home. Lyons says, “If you rest your car, that’s one less car on I-235, for example, and for the journey to and from work it gets pretty congested.”

If you rest your car four times a month, you could win prizes ranging from $25 downtown gift cards to $500 Visa cards. You just have to log onto www.drivetimedesmoines.org.

The Hansens say they haven’t calculated what they’ve saved since they started their eco challenge. But, the commute calculator on Drive Time Des Moines’ website estimates the savings to be about $20 a month for their short drive.

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