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Sept. 9, 2010 Volume 32, No. 3

City biking coalition wants residents to try a no-car September

David Schenker biking


More than 100 people have signed up to walk or bike

Think you could live without your car as a primary mode of transportation for a whole month?  David Schenker, associate professor of classical studies, could. He’s been biking instead of driving for 40 years.

 “It’s so much easier,” Schenker says. “If I bike to work and leave at the same time as my neighbor who drives to campus, I get to my office first.  My parking spot is right outside my building.”

Schenker’s commuting style is what the PedNet Coalition wants you to try this September as it kicks off its No Car, Low Car and Whoa! Car Challenge.

 “We’re really trying to get people to make a commitment to themselves to find a way around the hurdles that keep them going back to their car,” says Gina Overshiner, the event’s organizer and PedNet education coordinator.

The PedNet Coalition is an advocacy group for integrating a network of roads and trails to make walking and biking just as easy as driving.  The group draws funding from multiple grants, and was instrumental in securing the $25 million federal grant for GetAbout Columbia.

Now in its fifth year, the No Car Challenge has more than 100 participants registered — up from the 80 people that took part in the challenge last year. Those that take part in the challenge get a participant card that is good for discounts and freebies in some local businesses.

The No Car Challenge is open to everyone. There are four levels of participation, ranging from the hardcore “no cars allowed” to the lighter Whoa! Car Challenge that allows people to gradually transition to a car-less way of  getting around Columbia.

While cars still occupy the six MU parking garages and two commuter lots, the bicycle culture is embedded in campus with some faculty, staff and students choosing two wheels instead of four.

During the commute from his home in the old South West neighborhood, Schenker has noticed more bikers than ever, especially once he reaches campus. The bike rack he uses outside Strickland Hall is always full.

“If our bike racks are overflowing, I think that’s a great problem to have,” he says.

People new to biking can get some pointers in a Sept. 13 class about bike skills hosted by the MU Sustainability Office. Overshiner, a certified League of American Bicyclists instructor, will lead the three-hour class. For more information on the class, contact Kevin Petersen at 

For more information about the No-Car Challenge,  visit or contact Overshiner at

— David Wietlispach