This week is a busy one around Edmonton. Not only is it the beginning of bike month, but it’s also Environment Week and the National Commuter Challenge. I’ve been out with the ETS Community Relations team at several events, promoting the new bike racks featured on additional bus routes (maybe you came by and entered your name in for a draw of a new Dahon foldie bike). Folks from the Office of Environment (Karen and fellow blogger Colin) were there with information about the CO2RE program, as well as well as Chris from Sustainable Transportation, answering questions about all of the different alternative modes of transportation like carpooling, cycling or walking (who would have thought that walking would ever be considered an alternative form of transportation?).
What always comes out of events like these (what do you expect when you put a transit guy next to environment and sustainable transportation) is a conversation about Edmonton’s current transportation situation and its longterm sustainability. Did you know that Edmonton has one of the highest car dependence rates in Canada and citizens are spending more time in their cars, driving longer distances? This is one of our city’s biggest challenges that we’re always trying to address across all departments, be it through services provided by ETS, programs provided by Transportation, Environment, or Community Services (think Walkable Edmonton or LocalMotion), or through policy like our Transportation Master Plan.
But how are we as residents of Edmonton trying to spend less time in our cars? What is helping us make different decisions when it comes to deciding how to get around the city? When are we choosing to take transit, carpool, walk or ride a bike? These decisions are part of an every day challenge that we all face when trying to make our city more sustainable. Sure, participating in events like the Commuter Challenge are great ways to start, but what happens once the week is up? What about all the other weeks of the year?
We’ve begun to ask Edmontonians for their stories about how they choose to travel every day using more sustainable modes of transportation. James, an employee in our IT department, was the first to share his story, explaining how transit, in particular the recent expansion of the LRT system, has helped him reduce his dependency on his vehicle. Instead of driving to work, now he can take the LRT decreasing the time it takes him to get to work by up to 50%. But hey, don’t take my word for it. Hear it from the man himself.
This is the first of what will become a series of videos and stories about how different Edmontonians are choosing alternative transportation modes. We’re calling it The Every Day Challenge, building on the principles of events like the Commuter Challenge, except we plan for this project to be ongoing; our end goal being a city where our first choice for transportation is always the most sustainable one, be it taking transit more, walking, cycling, carpooling, or any other alternative mode that lessens our dependence on the single occupant vehicle trip.
Stay tuned to the blog as we post more stories from Edmontonians like you who are already making these choices. You can also check out the event and discussion on Facebook (this one is hosted by the Transit Rider’s Union of Edmonton) or add your thoughts to the growing conversation on twitter (official hashtag #yegEDW, but also check out what people have been saying at #yegtransit #yegbike #yegwalk). Coming up next, tales from your not-so-average pedestrian and a self-professed fair-weather cyclist who still managed to ride all but three months of the winter.