Commuter challenge encourages green transport

By Rhiannon Kirkland

Driving to school everyday can be hard on the environment and the wallet. The commuter challenge encourages people to use other transportation options like biking, taking the bus or walking, all with the added possibility of winning.

“Individual workplaces and cities get ranked against each other in Canada,” said Justin Brown, sustainability coordinator at the University of Calgary’s office of sustainability.

Teams are measured on number of participants, kilometers travelled via alternative transportation and green house gas emissions saved. Brown said last year the U of C came in second in terms of total participants and saved a total of 14 metric tons of greenhouse gases.

“I would guess that at this point in time nobody’s registered just because it’s so far in advance. Typically, at least the way it worked last year was everybody kind of registers the night before,” said Brown. “The first year we did this in 2007 we had 250 participants, in 2008 it was about 500 and last year it was 819, so hopefully this year we can crack 1,000.”

Brown said it can be difficult to convince people to participate in the commuter challenge.

“You’re going up against people’s routine and their perceptions and what they think is an easier way to get around and what they’re used to and those sorts of things,” said Brown.

The U of C also has a new idle free policy that will come into effect later this month.

“This year the Board of Governors approved an idling infraction which parking services will now begin to use to enforce [a] no idling policy,” said Brown. “Cars or any vehicle that is left idling for more than three minutes in weather that is above -10 degrees Celsius is going to be served with a warning and then, after three warnings, they are going to be given just a straight up ticket. So hopefully that will curb the amount of idling that happens on campus.”

The commuter challenge has been happening in Canada since 2007. This year it will be taking place from May 30th to June 5th.


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