This year, Monday, Jun. 2 to Saturday, Jun. 8 is Canadian Environment Week. An easy way to celebrate is by joining the Commuter Challenge – a Canada-wide initiative encouraging commuters to leave their car at home. Kingston has participated annually in this event and often finishes in the top three cities in Ontario!
Last year, Thunder Bay took the top spot for mid-sized cities (which Kingston had held for two years prior), so this year the sponsors of the Commuter Challenge locally want to rise above them. They would love to see everyone out taking part, and registering themselves and their workplaces as participants in this year’s challenge.
If you already walk, bike, carpool or take transit to work, that counts! Be sure to register here and log your commutes on the week of June 2 to 8.
What is the Commuter Challenge?
Commuter challenge encourages Canadians to leave their cars at home. It rewards walking, cycling, carpooling/ride-sharing, and taking transit, and is a friendly competition between Canadian cities and workplaces. (Source: https://commuterchallenge.ca/commuter-challenge-and-how-it-works/)
How can I participate?
Participation is encouraged as either a workplace or an individual. If you already commute to work every day, you are still eligible to join the challenge (and good for you for being sustainable already)! You will need to visit the registration page and register your workplace and yourself.
During the event week, you will leave your car at home and use other forms of transport during your days. To be eligible, you must make at least one sustainable commute during the week of June 2 to 8. You will sign in and log your commutes and the results will be updated daily.
Peter Bearse, Public Health Nurse, KFL&A Public Health explains how the challenge works:
“When people track an active or sustainable commute on the Commuter Challenge national page, they get to see the distance traveled, the carbon offset, and an estimate of calories burned. These numbers are tracked in real time on an individual level and then get aggregated to a city level, then a province level, and a national level so it is easy to see the impact that active/sustainable commuting can make.”
“Last year we had 400 some people participate and over the course of one week we were able to offset the carbon emissions that 1.5 cars would put out over the course of an entire year! So there is tremendous potential! This year, in light of the climate change emergency declaration made by City Council, we think that Commuter Challenge is a great way for people to get involved in a way that they can actually see the difference! Climate change often feels like such a big problem (and it is), but we don’t want that to make people feel like they can’t contribute to a solution.”
How is Kingston participating?
During the Commuter Challenge week, roll-in breakfasts will be hosted throughout downtown Kingston. These breakfasts are for everyone participating, not only cyclists. If you are walking, taking city transit, or even carpooling, you are welcome to stop in for a bite.
- Monday June 3: Sponsor: St. Lawrence College (on the Kingston campus along Portsmouth Avenue) 7:30 – 9:30 a.m.
- Tuesday June 4: Sponsor: Queen’s University (corner of University Avenue and Union Street) 7:30 – 9:30 a.m.
- Wednesday June 5: Sponsor: University hospitals foundation (corner of Johnson Street and Sydenham Street) 7:30 to 9:30 a.m.
- Thursday June 6: Sponsor: Sustainable Kingston (Market Square) 7:30 to 9:30 a.m.
- Friday June 7: Sponsor: Cycle Kingston (Market Square) 7:30 to 9:30 a.m.
On Friday, June 7, there will also be a ‘ride with the mayor’ along a section of the K&P trail. Meet at Belle Park at 7:25 and ride down to the Market Square roll-in breakfast with Bryan Patterson.
Mayor Bryan Patterson will also be challenging the mayor of Thunder Bay in a mid-sized city clash! Whichever city has the most participants will be declared the winner, and the losing city’s mayor will have to wear a t-shirt representing the winning city, and raise the city’s flag. Be sure to join in and have your commute count!
Also on the Friday, Cycle Kingston and the City of Kingston are organizing ‘bicycle valet parking.’ From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., bicycles will be supervised at a bike parking area in Market Square so you can confidently leave your bicycle while at work or running errands.
The City of Kingston, along with KFL&A Public Health, Sustainable Kingston, Kingston Coalition for Active Transport, and Kingston Transit have an event page on Facebook. Join the event to stay up-to-date on what other incentives will be coming for our Commuter Challenge week.
To sign up and participate, visit CommuterChallenge.ca. Register as an individual, or talk your whole workplace into joining. Maybe you’ll find out it’s easier than you thought to reduce your dependence on cars for your weekly commutes.
Organizations actively participating in the local Commuter Challenge:
- St Lawrence College
- Kingston Coalition for Active Transportation
- Kingston Transit
- Sustainable Kingston
- Queen’s University
- Cycle Kingston
- The City of Kingston
- KFL&A Public Health
Jessica is a busy working mom who enjoys writing, editing, and blogging. She loves raising her family here in Kingston and tries hard to get out to all the amazing events around town. You can find more of her writing on her blog A Modern Mom’s Life, and see what she gets up to with her family on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!