Vail Daily column: Sole Power Challenge is incentive for active commuting | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: Sole Power Challenge is incentive for active commuting

Mark Hoblitzell
Valley Voices

We are fortunate to live in one of the most beautiful places in the country, and one of the best ways to appreciate where we live is to slow down and enjoy our commutes.

Memorial Day kicks off the summer season and marks the beginning of the Sole Power Challenge. For the past six years, Sole Power has provided an opportunity to get fit, save money and win prizes by tracking active commuting.

Challenge participants have logged more than 175,000 miles and are responsible for reducing more than 85 tons of greenhouse gases. Participate by leaving the car at home and biking, running, skating, walking, etc. Free to participate, Sole Power allows users to track miles and trips completed, gasoline savings and greenhouse gas savings.

The rules are simple: Any trip counts as long as it replaces a motorized vehicle and is not purely recreational, e.g. trips to work, the grocery store, a concert or a dinner count, while participating in Ride the Rockies or walking a round of golf instead of using the cart do not. Competition is part of the program, but having fun and not taking ourselves too seriously is just as important.

The benefits of biking or walking to work are clear; it is a great way to get fit or save on gas money. A scenic valley and a recreation path system make commuting up and down the valley a breeze. If distances are a factor, then use ECO Transit to walk or bike for part of the trip and still participate.

For businesses in the valley, solepower.org functions as a free platform for expanded wellness programs or a chance to challenge a competitor for bragging rights. In fact, at the Vail Valley Partnership's annual Success Awards, the winners of the healthy workplace and best place to work credited Sole Power as a positive contributor to workplace culture.

Recommended Stories For You

The Climate Action Plan for the Eagle County Community has a goal of reducing transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions 10 percent from 2014 levels by 2025. There are many ways that our community can achieve this goal, but the Sole Power Challenge is an opportunity for all of us to participate and help reduce our impact.

Committing to just one day per week of green commuting can make a big difference. In addition to saving the planet, active commuting helps keep money in your pocket. Last season, Sole Power participants saved around $3,500 in gas money over the course of the summer.

Thanks to generous community sponsors, more than $12,000 worth of prizes has been donated to the Sole Power Challenge. This year, participants have a chance to win hotel stays, gift cards to local restaurants, bike tunes, regionally produced gear, happy hour events and much more. Prizes will be awarded throughout the summer, and all participants have a chance to win.

Help us beat our goal of 50,000 miles this summer and sign up today. Maybe you'll have some fun, win a prize or get in better shape. You will definitely get a cool T-shirt. Hope to see you all out there.

Mark Hoblitzell is the town of Vail environmental sustainability coordinator. To learn more about the Sole Power Challenge sponsors and to sign up, visit http://www.solepower.org find it on Facebook and Instagram @EVSolePower. Email questions to solepower@vailgov.com.