Paving the way for peddlers

By Eric Fung

Two University of Calgary students have created a video making alternative transportation look not so “alternative” after all. According to them, it’s time to shift into another gear with transportation choices.

On Nov. 20 and 22, the Learning Commons presented two screenings of the video “Shifting Gears: A Look at Alternative Transportation,” by Peggy Holroyd and Hugh Moloney. The video, created over a year, is a final project for students in the Theme School in Northern Planning and Development Studies. It discusses, as its title suggests, the benefits of making alternative transportation decisions.

“Our target audience is junior and senior high school students,” explained Moloney. “We want to educate these people about the options they have and the benefits they can achieve through other transport methods.”

The 15-minute film was a collaborative effort between the students and the Learning Commons, which provided video equipment and facilities. Funding was provided by a number of groups, including the Alberta Sport, Recreation, Parks and Wildlife Foundation and Environment Canada. Although Holroyd and Moloney had little experience in video production, they were eager to learn and to take charge.

“They brought a lot of interest,” said Fred Fountain, video producer for the Learning Commons. “They wanted to do everything, from hosting to editing the video. They found their own supervisor, lined up their own interviews, everything.”

The video raised the question of why cars are so important in North America. Numerous images show the bicycle coexisting with the car in the Netherlands and in China, if not dominating them in sheer numbers. Moloney made it clear that alternative transport doesn’t mean getting rid of cars entirely. While it may be inconvenient at times, getting out of the driver’s seat has definite advantages.

“[In North America], cycling is seen as a recreational activity rather than a mode of transportation,” said video testimonials. “We often don’t question the car, but other [forms of trasnport] are equally quick and easy, and less harmful to the environment.”

Holroyd and Moloney are working toward a specific goal with their project. Moloney, an avid cyclist, wanted to present images that validate the bicycle as an alternative daily transportation option. As a member of the audience pointed out, transportation was the most debated issue in the past municipal election, so there is certainly room for improvement.

“We are challenging people to make changes in the future and to increase awareness of their transportation choices,” explained Holroyd. “If everyone made slight incremental changes in their attitude, everyone would benefit. It’s up to us to turn knowledge into action.”

Moloney and Holroyd intend to show the video in schools throughout Canada. It has already received trial runs in a few Alberta schools and was generally well received. Holroyd and Moloney hope to see the day when real progress in this area is made.

“Transportation is a community concern: we all breathe the air, we all go to work and to school,” said Moloney. “This is everyone’s responsibility.”

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