David and Maria’s 30 Days Off the Road Challenge

David and Maria Azuela both work at netSpend, one the largest and fastest growing companies in downtown Austin. David, netSpend’s facilities manager, is struggling to manage their demands for parking. It’s a challenge other downtown employers face, too. So he and Maria decided to embark on a quest for transportation options. Here’s their account of the adventure.

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David: My commute experiment began as an attempt to understand how downtown employees might give up their parking (which signified freedom to me) for public transportation or other modes. Alix and Brianna (at Movability Austin) shared Ward Tisdale’s #30DaysOffTheRoad story with me, and challenged me to walk in his footsteps as a way to experience everything Austin transportation has to offer. I’m not one to refuse a challenge so I committed to at least give it a try and enjoy the ride. My wife Maria had the opportunity/misfortune to partake in the adventure with me.

The first few days were easy: carpooling with the person I live and work with! Next, I tried out the Capital Metro RideShare van that several employees in our company share. From there, I used different types of transportation, some I was familiar with and some I only recently learned about. I used the bus, car2go, rode a bike, and even ran the Capital 10K! I had the opportunity to travel for business and pleasure during my 30 day experiment, but even then I was ridesharing, car sharing, walking, and using transit.

At some point along the way, the challenge didn’t seem like much of a challenge anymore. It was more like a trip to Disney World – trying out different “rides” and discovering a new outlook on how I could get around Austin and beyond. For me and Maria, even enduring the elements, walking to bus stops and locating car2gos became a little fun.

Maria: My biggest take away from the experiment was how it changed my response to being without a car. David and I have shared one car since last year. Before the challenge, I’d panic at the idea of being car-less for even just one day. Now when I find myself without the car, I know I actually have some pretty good alternatives. I’m very comfortable with the idea of walking or riding the bus and that never would have happened without the challenge. I’ve come to enjoy walking to restaurants in our neighborhood and getting to know my city a little better, plus I get to burn some extra calories!

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Overall, we were successful with the challenge – we’ve even got the photos and tweets to prove it! I don’t think we’re ready to sell our one car, but now we’re more aware of the available options. Instead of seeing us at the car dealership, you might see us waving from the bus!

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