Oak Cliff residents accept car-free challenge

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by SHON GABLES

WFAA

Posted on January 12, 2011 at 7:04 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 13 at 2:46 AM

DALLAS — A new social experiment in Oak Cliff is challenging residents to walk, bike or rely on public transportation.

Sixteen local families are getting rid of their cars and taking a wild dare: To go car-free for 52 weeks.

Smack dab in the middle of one of the most bitter cold snaps in North Texas, Johnathan Braddick sold his car, bought a new bike and made a commitment to walk, ride or use only public transportation for 52 weeks.

Braddick is fully aware some think he is a quack.

"Really, I don't care what people think," he said.

Sarah Mendoza is a friend of Braddick and has decided to join him in the car-free challenge. It was a forced move for Mendoza, because she just returned from a stint in the Peace Corps. She has no car and no money to buy one.

Mendoza thought this would be easy, but week one is challenging, and she is already yearning for a motorized vehicle.

Braddick designed the car-free challenge as a social experiment. He rides seven to eight miles daily. As a result, he believes he emits fewer pollutants, has lost 20 pounds, connects better with his neighbors, and saves a ton of money bypassing the filling station, where a gallon of gas is now approaching $3.

"I don't even think gas prices; only when I have to fill the car for my fiance," Braddick said.

Yes, you read right. Braddick's fiance, like many others, has not quite caught on.

He admits the travel distance from work to home, weather and even timing is a deterrent.

"We're used to having large roads, large highways to drive pretty much where we want to get there in a certain amount of time," Braddick said.

Time is something a lot of folks don't have, since traveling by foot isn't exactly swift or easy.

"All I'm saying to people at this point is to say try it for 24 hours, once a week for 52 weeks and that's it!" Braddick said while peddling uphill to the Bishop Arts District.

A blog has been set up to help participants vent out the good and the bad. The participants who post a blog for a consecutive 52 weeks earn a free T-shirt and the satisfaction of knowing they helped improve the environment.

For more information go to the Bike Friendly Web site.

E-mail sgables@wfaa.com

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