Join Duke’s Unpark Yourself Challenge

Sustainability competition offers bike-electric vehicle as grand prize

The grand prize in the Unpark Yourself Challenge will be an ELF, a recumbent bike-electric vehicle hybrid that uses no gas, is road safe, travels up to 35 miles per hour and parks at a bike rack.
The grand prize in the Unpark Yourself Challenge will be an ELF, a recumbent bike-electric vehicle hybrid that uses no gas, is road safe, travels up to 35 miles per hour and parks at a bike rack.

Registration begins today for the new "Unpark Yourself Challenge," which invites Duke employees and graduate students to show off their commitment to becoming familiar with and using sustainable commuter options.

In lieu of driving alone, employees and graduate students can walk, bike, carpool or ride a bus to work as part of the Unpark Yourself Challenge, which begins March 16 to April 13. During the contest, competitors earn points by taking actions to make travel to campus more eco-friendly – everything from trying an alternative mode of transportation to sharing a photo of the commute on social media. Prizes will be available to Duke community members, from weekly giveaways like T-shirts and travel coffee mugs to larger rewards like an Apple Watch.

The individual with the highest point total at the end of the competition will receive an ELF, a recumbent bike-electric vehicle hybrid that uses no gas, is road safe, travels up to 35 miles per hour and parks at a bike rack.

“The way faculty and staff travel to campus is a pivotal part in Duke’s effort to become climate neutral by 2024,” said Alison Carpenter, manager of Duke’s transportation demand management program, which is co-sponsoring the program with Sustainable Duke. “Our hope is that by participating in the Unpark Yourself Challenge, we’ll introduce more Duke community members to the ease of alternative commuting options that can save them money while also cutting Duke’s carbon footprint.”

According to most recent data collected in April 2014, 71 percent of Duke University and Health System employees drive by themselves to work, down from 85 percent in 2004. Even with the reduction in single-occupancy vehicles, Duke still has a goal of reducing the drive-alone rate by 1,750 motorists by 2018.

For the challenge, each team must have a minimum number of five members, but no more than 20. At the start of every week, competitors will receive an email prompting them with a variety of actions to earn points, from 25 points for correctly answering a one-question quiz up to 600 points for registering as a full-time alternative commuter. Duke community members already signed up for programs or initiatives still earn points for those actions throughout the competition.

“Transportation makes up about a third of Duke’s greenhouse gas emissions, so it’s important to give people a reason to try a new way of getting around,” said Casey Roe, outreach coordinator with Sustainable Duke. “The Unpark Yourself Challenge rewards big and small changes, which are easier to make when you team up with your friends and coworkers.”