Moving people out of cars

May 13, 2008

Blog, Healthy Environment

I just came from a very successful workshop aimed at engaging our business community in getting people out of their cars.  The workshop also discussed the important issue of ensuring the efficient  movement of goods within and outside of our community.  The workshop was co-sponsored by the Guelph Chamber of Commerce who did an amazing job at recruiting local business leaders to the session.

(As people were arriving at the meeting, they heard an announcement on the radio that GO Rail is moving forward with an environmental assessment to bring commuter rail service to Guelph.  This certainly added to the energy at the meeting.)

First, some interesting and startling statistics from the presentations at the meeting:  Car use is increasing faster than population growth.  There are 2.4 cars for every household in Guelph.  Truck traffic is increasing at an even faster rate.  On the positive side, there are 65,000 jobs in the City.  The majority of Guelph residents, 40,000 of them,  work in the city.  Fifteen thousand Guelph residents commute out of the city for work while 25,000 people commute into the city for work.

The businesses present were introduced to a number of Transportation Demand Management measures:

  • public transit
  • carpooling
  • car sharing
  • guaranteed/emergency ride home programs
  • cycling facilities (showers, lockers, secured storage)
  • pedestrian assessibility
  • flexible work hours
  • compressed work week
  • telecommuting

All the benefits of TDM were discussed including a more productive workforce, more efficient movement of goods, improved air quality and physical health.

In particular, the workshop highlighted the leadership of the University of Guelph and the Co-operators for their participation in a pilot project to encourage their employees to use public transit.  Other businesses expressed interest in being part of a similar pilot program.

Also promoted was the Commuter Challenge, June 1 to 7th.  If you are interested in participating you can find out more at: 

I encourage you to sign up for the commuter challenge and “test-drive” transportation demand management in our community as well as share  with us your ideas for promoting alternative forms of transportation.  

About Karen Farbridge

An unwavering change maker seeking a just, democratic and sustainable world.

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10 Comments on “Moving people out of cars”

  1. Dave Says:

    I would love to use my bicycle more to get around the city – Has the prospect of having bike racks installed on the front of city buses ever been explored? I have seen these used in the UK, as well as in BC. This would allow cyclists to combine the use of public transit and cycling, in order to move more efficiently.
    Just a thought – Thanks!

  2. Jennifer Says:

    Hi Dave;

    I 100% agree with you! Bike racks on busses are a great way to travel longer distances and still use sustainable modes of transportation.

    The City of Guelph has explored bike racks for our Guelph Transit busses, and have included bike racks for the 2009/2010 budget. For more information, please contact Guelph Transit.

    – Jennifer McDowell, Transportation Demand Management Coordinator, City of Guelph.

  3. Greg Says:

    When the cost of driving my car to work, and the amount of time spent to get to and from work in my own car, are both greater than taking a bus, I’ll switch.

    Until then, forget it.

    Time is worth money (be it monetary or time spent with my wife and kids), and buses that run every 20 minutes — and then take that long or longer to get me to work — aren’t practical.

  4. Al Says:

    When considering the cost of driving a car you must include all cost, such as insurance, depreciation, wear and tear and of course fuel.

    Compare that to public transport, the walk to the bus stop, the waits for connectors and the state that the busses are in…. not even talking about the stink of the diesel engines and the noise and the size of the seats – that is if you can get a seat in rush hour.

    Most people think that riding a bus is cheaper to get to work in a small town like Guelph, well it is not. The one thing cheaper than a car is a bicycle.
    Carpooling does not work either if you work flexible hours.
    Cars do not go on strike!!

  5. Beate Schwirtlich Says:

    I commute to Toronto by train five days a week. The result is, I can’t afford a car. And that’s that. At the same time, I very rarely use city transit, maybe 15 times in a year. I live ten minutes from downtown, and If, say, I have to go up to the university, it takes the same amount of time to walk as it would to take the bus. I cycle, and I’ll borrow a car from a friend occasionally, take slow public transit. I know not everyone is so close to shops and services,

    While I’m commenting, a few other thoughts:

    -extending Guelph Transit outside the city seems like an idea with a great deal of potential.
    -If we can get cars off the road and spend less on road maintainence (as David Graham recently argued), we might afford great transit service.
    – yes we need bike racks on buses
    – no, let’s not spend the money on parking garages.

    There are lots of people in Toronto who own cars but who also use and appreciate the TTC. Those who can afford it could be convinced to use both, if the transit service is good enough. Right now, I feel, most people use Guelph Transit only because they must.

  6. Andy Donlan Says:

    A workshop – this’ll save the planet!!

  7. Brian Holstein Says:

    Andy, could you please explain your comment?

    Are you cynical of workshops where people learn from each other and put fort a synchronized effort to do whatever they want to do? Should people be unaware of what others are doing and go about solving the greater problem in a helter-skelter way, often conflicting with others’ efforts?

    There was an old WASP-ish adage: “Plan the work, then work the plan”

    I think that workshops fit neatly and necessarily into the former part of that wise statement.

  8. Marcia Says:

    I commute by bicycle rain, shine, snow or ice… with my young boys in tow. The distances in Guelph are so manageable, yet I can imagine why I am in the minority.

    Because it is a life-threatening experience. The traffic is daunting. The drivers don’t expect cyclists on the road. There are only bike lanes along PARTS of Gordon, Victoria and Edinburgh and other strips. They end abruptly. Most smaller streets do not connect or are cul-de-sacs. As a result, we frequently have to cycle on busier, even busy, streets. Going on the sidewalk is no solution.

    WE NEED A BETTER BIKE LANE SYSTEM. One that connects North and South, East and West and more.

    I frequently encounter construction on roads such as Eramosa and Victoria as well as construction sites for new housing. Can we please add bicycle lanes while they’re at it!

    I am sure that more people will dare take on the task of cycling when there is a designated space for them to ride.

    Marcia Santen

  9. Doug Says:

    It seems to be a no brainer that more bike lanes are required, if only to provide a safe place to walk.
    Keep your bikes off the sidewalks please.
    If more bike lanes are to be built, perhaps the cost of doing so could be paid for by imposing a license fee for bikes on an annual basis.
    I’m thinking about $50.00 should be about right.
    They do it in lots of other countries and we used to do it in Canada in the past.
    If you want to use the roadways , you should pay your portion.
    Just like the rest of us do.

  10. AnnaVDK Says:

    As per above comment, I’ll pay for my bike lane if you pay for your road. Taxes that come from everyone’s pockets pay for the majority of new roads and road maintenance. Why should cyclists who only cycle have to pay for roads for cars AND bike lanes for themselves? Perhaps the other countries you were talking about were places like the Netherlands where the bikes have seperate lanes nearly the size of pretty a road to themselves. Besides, I’m also paying indirectly for your car through health problems due to poor air quality, noise pollution, increased need for environmental funds to ‘fix’ problems that cars contribute to (like climate change, declining biodiversity etc) and increased risks to my safety (how many people die from being hit by a bike vs a car?)

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