Gorge gets challenged to ‘Drive Less’

LEANNE HOGIE draws on solar power and her own strength to travel around the Hood River Valley in a hybrid bicycle-car called an “ELF.” The Oregon Drive Less Challenge kicks off Friday.

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LEANNE HOGIE draws on solar power and her own strength to travel around the Hood River Valley in a hybrid bicycle-car called an “ELF.” The Oregon Drive Less Challenge kicks off Friday.

The Oregon Drive Less Challenge pulls up soon. Its finish line: energy efficiency.

The fifth annual competition, spearheaded by Mid-Columbia Economic Development District (MCEDD) and the Oregon Department of Transportation, runs Sept. 16-30.

All Oregonians age 18 and older can sign up for free. Those who participate and log their trips each day are entered into daily prize drawings and may also be eligible for the grand prize drawings.

“The challenge provides a reason to explore ways of getting around for work, school, errands and play other than driving alone,” said Kathy Fitzpatrick, MCEDD mobility manager.

“Even taking the bus into work or riding your bike to the store a few times a week adds up in dollars saved and calories burned, while helping the environment and keeping Oregon the livable place we all love.”

Communities around the Gorge have issued proclamations acknowledging the event.

“The City of Mosier has an interest in supporting opportunities that can improve the health of its residents, reduce the strain on public infrastructure and promote transportation alternatives. The challenge helps further these goals by encouraging Oregonians to discover healthy, green travel options for work, school and play,” states a July 2017 letter signed by Mayor Arlene Burns.

The specific goal of this year’s 15-day challenge is for participants to pedal their way, walk, share the ride and tap into transit and the train, plus telework and log their trips into Oregon’s free trip tracking tool, DriveLessConnect.com.

MCEDD in a news release referenced the story of Gorge resident Leanne Hogie as someone doing her part to drive less in a unique way: using solar and pedal powered hybrid vehicle.

Hogie, who is also a new board member for the Hood River County Transportation District, is a strong advocate for transportation alternatives.

She has combined environmental stewardship with physical and mental benefits through her “ELF,” a hybrid bicycle-car.

“We live about five miles from downtown Hood River and all our trips to town in our car or truck felt so wasteful,” Hogie said.

“Now it takes only a few more minutes to get downtown — and then 15 minutes more to talk with all the people excited and curious about the ELF.”

She noted, “All the waves and smiles I get on the road also make it so fun to ride.”

The ELF is made in North Carolina and there is a dealer in Portland.

Fitzpatrick said, “Every trip counts in the challenge, plus the more trips you log, the greater your chances are of winning weekly and grand prizes.”

Weekly prizes include $125 KEEN gift card, Hydro Flasks, $25 Dutch Bros gift cards, $50 REI gift cards and $50 Black Star Bags gift cards. Grand prizes include one of three “GenZe” electric bikes, or a $500 cash card.

People can join at any point during the challenge.

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