Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Boulder’s new way of building “a community of carlessness”

Posted by on August 31st, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Go carfree on the day that
corresponds to your car color
(mine would be Tuesday).

Here’s a interesting new campaign that would feel right at home in Portland. This Saturday, the City of Boulder Colorado will launch Driven to Drive Less, a new program to get people to go one day a week without their car. What’s refreshing is that they’re going about it in a creative way, by asking people to consider going carfree on a certain day of the week depending on the color of their vehicle. Here’s a snip from the campaign website:

“Let’s make a game out of going carless at least once a week. A game that everyone who plays wins. One day a week. That’s 14.3% less congestion, pollution and road rage for Boulder and the rest of the world.

Here’s how it works: Your car’s color corresponds to an assigned car-free day of the week (see chart at right). If that day works with your schedule, then give your car a well-deserved day off, and go forth carless.”

I like how they’re also using social media to build some community around the “game.” The message is simple, the call to action is fun, and the execution is very professional (they hired a solid local creative firm). I feel like more cities should be doing this type of thing.

Read more about the campaign via the Daily Camera newspaper.

Do you think this is a good approach to getting cars off the road and/or raising awareness about how we get around?

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  • Ethan August 31, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    That is awesome, kind reminds me of the wartime rationing systems (though voluntary here of course).

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  • Todd Scott August 31, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    I think it’s great that Boulder is trying to reduce it’s vehicular traffic. Honestly, I’m not sure how Boulder can be considered such a bicycle friendly town given the high levels of motor vehicle traffic.

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  • Nick V August 31, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    The Partridge Family would be S.O.L. if they lived in Boulder.

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  • thefuture August 31, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    So looks like Wednesday would be the safest day to ride a bike in Boulder?

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  • beth h August 31, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    It’s certainly very creative, though the operative word is “voluntary”.
    How many folks will CHOOSE to go carless? Is there a way to track this at all?
    What about a Carfree challenge similar to the Bike Commute challenge where people can punch in their daily mileage?

    Maybe a smart thing to do would be to combine the self-entry online thing like Bike Commute Challenge and offer incentives for going carless.

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  • jeff August 31, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    It’s not going to work.
    The one and only thing that will get people to change their behavior is $$$$.
    People use their cars less when it becomes too expensive to drive them. $4.00 gas showed us this. It is the only historical precedent we have. Car color will have nothing to do with reducing vehicle use.

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  • Steve B. August 31, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    @Todd have you been to boulder? They understood, committed to, and built “separated bikeways” before many cities started to even think about it!

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  • John A. August 31, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    This is a very forward-thinking plan.

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  • John A. August 31, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    Between this and Denver’s bike-share plan, Colorado is exploring many innovative ways to encourage biking.

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  • Todd Scott August 31, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    @Steve B. I’ve been to Boulder more than a dozen times, including about 10 days ago. I have no doubt they are committed to bicycling, but they are also committed moving a lot of cars through town as evidenced by the number of road sewers they have, e.g. Arapahoe, 28th, Broadway. In my experience, Boulder is a mixed bag of bike friendliness.

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  • Robert Rowe August 31, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    I love this. One of the best motivators is to make a game out of a task or goal. I’m moving to Boulder in a few weeks, and plan to commute by bike as much as possible.
    (and since my Saturn is “silver-blue”, does that mean I shouldn’t drive on Mondays *or* Tuesdays?)

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  • Hart August 31, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    If cars came in plaid, I might think about driving one.

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  • jim August 31, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    wonder woman gets to drive everyday

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  • jim August 31, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    I would envy the guy who has 7 different color cars

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  • Zaphod August 31, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    Boulder has some truly amazing infrastructure which I would love to see adopted, where appropriate, here in PDX.

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  • JB September 1, 2010 at 7:50 am

    @Todd AND @Steve B:

    I currently live in Boulder. And I agree with Todd, there is more traffic in Boulder than one would expect considering the claims of being such a progressive and environmentally friendly town. Sadly, I believe much of the traffic is associated with the return of CU students each fall. Admittedly, if Todd was really here 10 days ago, he probably saw Boulder at its worst as that is generally the time where literally almost every student and their mother returns to Boulder for move in week. It’s a big mess. But don’t get me wrong, we’ve got lots of great bike paths, routes and lanes and a great biking community.

    Side note: I’m not sure if this is a sad reflection of me or this program, but why does a guy living in Boulder have to visit bikeportland to find out about news about Boulder? Weird.

    By the way Todd, what is a “road sewer”?

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  • Paul Tay September 1, 2010 at 9:40 am

    What’s to stop any other given American city or Tulsa from ripping off Boulder?

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  • Robert Rowe September 1, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    @JB, I was wondering that too (if there were any active Boulder blogs I need to start reading once I move there).

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  • Todd Scott September 2, 2010 at 1:42 pm


    Yes, Boulder was extra busy with CU students.

    As I understand it (and use it) a “road sewer” is a road designed primarily for vehicular mobility at the expense of other community and transportation needs.

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  • JB September 3, 2010 at 8:20 am

    @Robert Rowe: Sorry, I don’t know of any active Boulder bike blogs (at least no where close to the quality of this one). Perhaps you should start one once you get settled?

    @Todd: Yeah, we do have a few road sewers. But the good news is that it is plenty easy to avoid the roads you mention (even if trying to get to a business on those roads).

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