If you can drive or afford a car, you may not understand what it’s like to rely on walking, rolling, transit and asking for rides. But for nearly a third of people living in the United States – people with disabilities, young people, seniors and people who can’t afford cars or gas – this is our every day.  We created the Week Without Driving challenge so that policy makers, elected leaders and transportation professionals can begin to understand the barriers nondrivers experience in accessing our communities. 

What’s new this year?

In 2021, the Disability Mobility Initiative launched the #WeekWithoutDriving to challenge our leaders to better understand the barriers nondrivers experience in accessing our communities. After two successful years of hosting the challenge in Washington State (Including an official proclamation from Governor Jay Inslee), this year #WeekWithoutDriving is going national in partnership with America Walks. So far, more than fifty advocacy groups from across the US, Canada and Puerto Rico are planning to join the challenge October 2-8. Read our 2023 Countdown Press Release for Washington State

How does the #WeekWithoutDriving work?

  • You can get around however you want, but the challenge is not to drive yourself in any car. This applies to all your activities — not just your work commute. If you normally transport other family members or friends, it applies to those trips too. 
  • You can ask someone else to drive you, but make a note of how much you “owe” this person in their time, and if you felt obligated to support them in other ways (ie, doing all the dishes). You can use ride hail or taxis if they exist where you need to go, but again, think about how the cost could impact your decision to take this trip if this was regularly your only option. 
  • This isn’t a disability simulation or a test of how easily you can find alternatives. We know that it is far easier to give up your keys if you can afford to live in a walkable area well served by transit, or can outsource your driving and other transport and delivery needs to other people. Having to drive during the challenge does not signify failure. The point is to consider how someone without that option would have coped, and what choices they might have made. 

Questions? Contact annaz at dr-wa dot org.

Get inspired to organize your own #WeekWithoutDriving by checking out these videos and media highlights.

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"Going through a week as if I was unable to ever drive myself or my family, and had to rely entirely on other means of transportation taught me a lot about how our system works and doesn't work, especially for people with disabilities," King County Councilmember Claudia Balducci 

“I plan to be even more vocal about changes to the built environment to make sure that everybody can get around: better street lighting, more sidewalks and sidewalks in underserved neighborhoods so that folks don't have to walk directly along a busy street. - Everett City Council Member Paula Rhyne

“The Week Without Driving was a really great reality check to think about the decisions that I make as a school board director. Even though we may say ‘You're Welcome,’ the actions that we take convey a really different message to our families and our community. - Olympia School Board Member Hilary Seidel

“It changed my whole life. I had to think about how do I pick up dog food for my very large dog that eats a lot? How do I get to work every day and make sure that I can move around safely? I had to think about when I can leave, how I get there, what I'm going to wear.” - Pierce County Councilmember Jani Hitchen

“I did end up driving every day of my #WeekWithoutDriving. I had some emergency medical stuff come up that required impromptu doctor visits. Which led to a lot of deeper reflection: if I didn't have access to a vehicle, how would I have scheduled this doctor's appointment? How would have I gotten here? How long would it be taken? Or could I even reach the destination?” - Pierce County Council Member Marty Cambpell

“Trying to depend entirely on our public transportation system makes it all the more clear that investments in transit should be a top priority. So many communities across our state depend on this vital resource, and they each deserve reliable and accessible options for their commutes!” State Senator Rebecca Saldaña

“It reinforces the holes in our ped/bike transportation system. If you're not out there walking and biking and experiencing it, you have no idea how important it is to fill those holes.” - Mayor of Bellevue Lynne Robinson

“This week as a reminder that mobility is a human right. And it's also a reminder that so many people in our region are excluded from this right, simply because driving for them is not an option.” King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay

“I'm an avid bus rider. I love to walk and bike, but really forcing myself to do it for a full week was so valuable and so important, especially for those of us who are making decisions about our transportation system.” Tacoma Council Member Kristina Walker
Elected leaders share what they learned from participating in #WeekWithoutDriving.