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29 Portland Residents Ditch Cars for a Month

More than two dozen Portlanders are giving up their cars for a month as part of the second annual Portland Low-Car Diet.

The event was sponsored by TriMet, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Oregon Department of Transportation, Multnomah County Department of Health, City of Portland, Bike Gallery, AMTRAK CASCADES, New Seasons Market Online Shopping and Flexcar. The participants pledged to use TriMet, bicycling, walking, Flexcar and other modes of transportation to get around town for the next four weeks.

The 29 Low-Car Diet participants will be given a free membership and $200 worth of driving credit from Flexcar during the month, as well as a monthly TriMet transit pass, a $50 voucher at the Bike Gallery, a free Chinook Book, free grocery delivery service from New Seasons Market and transportation information designed to make their month-long car “diet” enjoyable.

Should they complete the month without driving their own car, they will be awarded free hours of Flexcar use each month for a year and one round trip ticket to Seattle or Eugene on AMTRAK CASCADES.

Participants will keep a journal of their experiences of their Low-Car Diet throughout the campaign. Excerpts will be posted on the event website at



No offense, but I live in Portland and have given up driving for environmental reasons as well, and I wouldn't even consider it a sacrifice - just sort of a change of habits. Portland is tightly packed and has good public transport. Does there really need to be grocery delivery (presumably by truck) and flexcar usage as part of this? Does the incentive need to be this lucrative to get people to consider not driving? Sorry to be cynical - I'm all about not driving, but in Portland it's a cinch. Try Los Angeles next time.


I can't help thinking that the flexcar is a good way to wean people off of cars. If you have kids that are involved in sports or the arts it can be a tough conversion (mine have gotten used to the e-scooter in the rain). If you're single, I can imagine that dating would be a little tougher too.


Considering all the incentives in play here, each participant will probably be spending as much (of other people's money) on transport services as they would if they kept a modest sized car.

My math is:

1. Flexcar credit & pro-rata share of annual membership fee: $203

2. Transit Pass: $74

3. Bike shop credit: $50

4. Chinook book: $20

5. Grocery Delivery (assume 4 deliveries @ $10 each): $40.

TOTAL: $387

While it is entirely possibly to spend a lot more per month on driving, a frugal individual living in a community with a reasonable supply of free or cheap parking could probably stick to a $400 monthly transport budget without too much trouble. (This excludes major vacations or roadtrips.)


I personally prefer to have my own car. This is despite using public transport and walking every day. Why - well because I love driving. I hardly ever use the car to commute because it is simply not enjoyable sitting in traffic. I use it for day trips out of the city to see family and friends, and sometimes even for the enjoyment of being out on the road. It's all about balance rather than being conspicuous or too anal.


Scott: absolutely, I love to drive (I want a Venture1 so bad I can smell it). But if you're only using a car on weekends then car sharing will get you out on the road without a car sitting in your driveway depreciating the rest of the week.

NBK: true, but some of the expenses are one timers (the book and the bike) and some are redundant (flexcar and grocery delivery) so you might figure the long term costs closer to 250/month.

Gerald Shields

I need a car.


Some people truly do. But I'm guessing that of all the people that own a second car, at least half of those could use a car sharing arrangement instead and save some money (and manufacturing pollution, and parking space).

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