“A little over a year ago I sold my beloved Volvo S80 T6 sedan — my 26th car — and set off on a new adventure: shrinking my already relatively small carbon footprint.” So reports Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates (above) in his latest newsletter. The fact that he can figure out exactly how many cars he has owned either indicates that he’s meticulous about keeping records or that he really did love his cars.

The car-free mayor is trying to encourage other Berkeleyans to follow his lead in some fashion, even if it just means reducing car use for a week. He’s promoting the Transform Car-Free Challenge, a one-week campaign to get Californians out of their cars and using other forms of transportation. The challenge runs from next Tuesday for seven days, and participants commit to a maximum number of car miles in the week. You can look at Bates’ personal page to see he is committing to no more than 40 miles in the seven days.

In his one blog post about the Car-Free Challenge, the mayor reckons he drove 75 miles a week before he ditched his car. He has walked almost 10 million steps since he sold his car (about 5,000 miles), lost 20 pounds, and “become a better mayor in the process”, he notes.

Lance Knobel (Berkeleyside co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine...