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Success Stories

Family of Four Thrives with Bikes and One Less Car

A preschooler asking, “Mommy, why can’t we ride a bike to school like those guys?” as you arrive to school with your two kids on the back of your Xtracycle…getting smiles when you ride the bus with your three and five year-old daughters…losing ten pounds from biking with those cute kids on that Xtracycle. These are just a few of the benefits that Kari and husband Akwetee have enjoyed since selling their second car in the City of Seattle’s One Less Car Challenge.

Kari, Akwetee, and their two daughters recently completed their year in the One Less Car Challenge. Participants sell a car, commit to live with one less car for a year, and receive hundreds of dollars in incentives. Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) provides participants with $200 in gift certificates to buy transit passes or REI gear, Zipcar provides $175 of discounts and fee use, and Cascade Bike Club provides a free annual membership. Other incentives include a free membership from Bike Alliance and a $100 discount from Tiny’s Organic Produce. Kari found that shedding a car also provides significant ongoing benefits: “We’ve noticed how much money we’re saving on insurance and gas.” (AAA says the typical car costs about $7,000 per year to own and operate.) “We also have less stress with fewer cars to maintain. Bike maintenance is a lot less stressful than car maintenance because we can fix our bikes ourselves.”

Kari uses a mix of biking and busing, while Akwetee “is the real bike enthusiast.” Two times each week he bikes from their home in Ravenna to his job at Boeing—a forty-mile round trip. While some of Akwetee’s colleagues had written off bike commuting because they live more than ten miles from work or face a big hill on their way home, Akwetee’s bike commute has given some of them food for thought.

Kari admits that there are challenges when a family gives up a second car. “When both drivers have a car, it’s easy to just jump in the car for every trip. When you first start with one less car, there are initial hurdles to overcome, and sometimes it feels like you have too many choices. ‘Should I take the bike or bus? Should I set up a carpool to school?’ You’ve got to be patient and open-minded. After about a week or so, you’ve figured out your new pattern.”

“Overall, the experience has been great. We are encouraged to bike, walk, and use transit to get places we once drove. There are now days when our only car sits outside our house all day.”

Now that their one year commitment to the City program has ended, Kari and Akwetee are still committed to having one car.

So if your kids ever ask, “Why can’t we ride a bike to school?”, maybe your answer can be, “Why not?”


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