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The Green Life: Silly Car Trip!

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September 30, 2010

Silly Car Trip!

What's your most ridiculous car trip? Is it that time you buckled up to roll to the mailbox? Or when you drove to get to a stationary bike at the gym?

That's what city officials in Malmö, Sweden, dared drivers to confess when they learned that about half of all car trips traversed fewer than 3 miles. The respondents with the goofiest stories won a bicycle (and the chance to redeem themselves).

Meanwhile, the city pampered its cyclists, outfitting their parked bicycles with orange seat covers and, on rainy days, with drying cloths. The campaign's organizers also sent out cyclists — dressed in eye-catching orange vests and silver helmets — to time popular urban routes, proving that biking really is a quick way to get around. The city even showcased a pedaling cyclist on the platform of a downtown billboard. (But don't try that one at home.)

And the campaign worked. Since 1995, the number of cyclists in Malmö has jumped from 20% to 30%. That's also thanks to improved biking infrastructure, including new paths and railings for cyclists to hold on to at red lights.

U.S. commuters could also use a nudge. Americans drive 72% of trips shorter than 3 miles, which account for half of all commutes. Bicycles make only 2% of these jaunts.

To learn more about the Malmö campaign, watch the above video and read about it on Grist.

--Natalya Stanko

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