By Jen Hart
The Commuter Challenge encourages commuters to leave their cars at home and use alternate transportation, like public transit, to get to work. (Photo courtesy of Niagara Falls Transit Services)
What is the Commuter Challenge?
The Commuter Challenge is a weeklong event taking place June 4 – 10, 2017. This event coincides with Canadian Environment Week, a time where Canadians celebrate the nation’s progress on encouraging yearlong efforts to protect the environment and safeguard its biodiversity. Canadian Environmental Week was created to coincide with World Environment Day, Clean Air Day and World’s Ocean Day to facilitate conversation surrounding environmental protection and preservation.
The goal of the Commuter Challenge is to get Canadians to leave their cars at home and either walk, cycle, carpool, ride share, take transit or telework to celebrate active and sustainable ways of transportation.
The Commuter Challenge requires participants to register their workplace before the challenge begins, however individual participants can register anytime before the end of the challenge. You may also register as an individual with no affiliation to a workplace. Once registered, commuters walk, cycle, carpool, take transit or telecommute during the event week and log their results. To be included in the final results, participants need to make at least one sustainable commute during Commuter Challenge week, but it is encouraged to participate as many days as possible. All results are tracked daily in terms of emission reduction, calorie consumption, distance and fuel cost savings. Participants can see the results of cities and workplaces all across Canada.
The Commuter Challenge is about more than just one week; it is about a change in perspective or a shift in thinking. The Commuter Challenge encourages participants to make a lifestyle change after the week is over. It could be something as simple as committing to walking or biking to work once a week. Every change makes a difference, regardless of how small.
In terms of environmental benefits, the Commuter Challenge helps to reduce the need for fossil fuels, reducing air pollution, as well as reducing the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.
In terms of companies getting on board with the Commuter Challenge, it is a great way to enhance the public image of the company. Employers who promote and facilitate the well-being of their employees, communities and the environment are more likely to receive greater loyalty and respect from employees and customers.
Employees will save money with driving costs, including fuel, repair and vehicle maintenance, as well as the benefits of daily physical activity (if walking/ cycling), and the reduced stress of not driving themselves. The community will also benefit from decreased traffic, reduced pollution and reduced vehicle noise.
Carpooling is another great way to take part in the Commuter Challenge. By driving with a co-worker, you can reduce your expenses and greenhouse gas emissions. You may also be able to use the express carpool lanes on the highway, allowing you to get to work faster. Here are a few suggestions for organizing carpooling at your office.
- Put up a map of your area in a coffee or lunch room.
- Ask people to write their name and work number (or extension number) on a Post-It note. Affix the note to the map with a push pin, to the area in which they live.
- See which employees live close to each other, and encourage them to set up a carpool.
- Determine who will drive, how the fuel costs will be split, and what time the morning and afternoon pick-ups will be.
Visit the following link for more information and to sign up your workplace for the Commuter Challenge: https://commuterchallenge.ca/.
We all can make a positive difference in our everyday activities and choices! Visit Niagara Sustainability Initiative at http://niagarasustainability.org/ for more information or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for more information on sustainability in the Niagara Region, the Carbon Project and how you can get involved with reducing your impact on the environment.