D.C. Residents Celebrate Car Free Day

By Yamiche Alcindor
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Martin Moulton, 43, never got a driver's license. Originally from the San Francisco Bay area, he grew up riding his bike, walking and taking public transportation. Now a District resident and employee, he says he doesn't need to learn to drive. He's been "car free" his whole life.

On Tuesday, cities around the globe celebrated World Car Free Day. In the District, the Department of Transportation held a celebration downtown along F Street NW to encourage others to try Moulton's way of life. More than 6,000 people pledged to be car free on the event's Web site.

"I think more people should be aware of living greener," Moulton said while standing near one of the event's booths. "People should think of the financial savings and health benefits of not having a car."

The 43-year-old graphic designer said he saves thousands of dollars because he doesn't have to pay for gas, car insurance or other expenses that come with owning a car.

World Car Free Day is every Sept. 22 and promotes improvement of mass transit, cycling and walking, and the development of communities where jobs are closer to home and where shopping is within walking distance.

DDOT's event featured several local and national organizations and nonprofit groups that encourage people to pursue environmentally friendly lives. "Today was about trying to bring many agencies together with the same goal of promoting Car Free D.C.," said Anna McLaughlin, transportation demand management coordinator for DDOT.

Dozens of booths lined the streets, and volunteers passed out pamphlets to participants. Representatives from D.C. Circulator also gave free passes for bus rides. Bike and Roll, a bike rental and tour company, offered free rentals throughout the day.

Jennifer Tallman, a mechanic with the Bike Rack, a D.C. bike shop, screened bikes for problems and made minor repairs for free. "I think it's a great idea to get people out of their cars," she said. "Calories are cheaper than gas."

In that spirit, instructors from Yoga District put mesh mats to street pavement during a 30 minute outdoor yoga class.

The financial savings and health benefits of walking inspired Dusti Ridge, 58, to sell her 1996 Ford van four years ago. "It costs so much and now I don't have to hassle for a parking space," she said, toting one of the bright blue reusable bags given out the event.

Ridge, who works as a clerical assistant at the D.C. Library Renaissance Project, said she takes buses and trains to and from work every day. "I think if you're living in D.C., you don't need a car."

Staff writer Ashley Halsey III contributed to this report.

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