‘Unpark Yourself’ in Race to Finish

Four competitors are within striking distance of first place leader

Graduate student Gabriel Yapuncich poses for a selfie by a rack of bikes with Duke's bike-share program, Zagster, as part of a social media activity for the Unpark Yourself Challenge. Yapuncich is among several employees and graduate students fighting fo
Graduate student Gabriel Yapuncich poses for a selfie by a rack of bikes with Duke's bike-share program, Zagster, as part of a social media activity for the Unpark Yourself Challenge. Yapuncich is among several employees and graduate students fighting for first place in the sustainable commuting contest.

With days remaining in the inaugural Unpark Yourself Challenge, a few competitors of the nearly 2,000 employees and graduate students are vying for the grand prize 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.

As of Friday, just 50 points separate the top performer, Department of Evolutionary Anthropology graduate student Gabriel Yapuncich, from second place Kyle Washburn, a Duke Hospital emergency room nurse. Several other participants are within striking distance of the number one spot, with other top-five competitors no further than 225 points away.

“I am not at all confident it will last,” Yapuncich said of his lead. “There are many other competitors who have demonstrated their commitment to alternative transportation in the previous weeks and are within hailing distance of first place. Week two ended with a seven-way tie for first place.”

The challenge ends April 12, and the winner will be announced April 13. 

Throughout the contest, which has tested the sustainable commuting knowledge and resolve of Duke community members on 121 teams, graduate students, faculty and staff have accumulated points by answering trivia questions, staying active on social media and taking on challenges that encourage sustainable behavior like riding a bike or bus to work.

This week, Unpark Yourself participants can earn points by using an alternative commute option in lieu of driving alone to campus, use Duke’s Carbon Calculator to test their carbon footprint and pick up 600 points for becoming a full-time alternative commuter. 

As Washburn sits in second place, he’s eyeing Unpark’s top spot by taking a simple approach: keep learning about Duke’s alternative commuting programs and sign up for everything.

“The bike-share program is super convenient, I signed up for the Enterprise car share and also got the GoPass, which I didn’t even know was an option for Duke employees, and I’ve already used it several times,” he said. “If I win the ELF, I’d never use my car again and that’s the greatest motivator.”

With a tight race atop the Unpark Yourself leaderboard, the final winner may come down to luck. If there is a tie, a randomly selected competitor will be picked among those tied for the lead, a situation Yapuncich expects to come to fruition.

“I think the grand prize will come down to a random drawing between the top five or six participants,” he said. “Sustainable Duke did a great job putting the event together, and clearly many members of the Duke community are committed to cleaner and greener transportation.”