Township Employees On Board For Commuter Challenge

Some do it to save money. Some want to help the environment. For others, it is a chance to enjoy exercise and fresh air.

Whatever their reasons, Township of Langley staff are choosing to bike, bus, or carpool to work and encourage other employees throughout the community to do the same during the Commuter Challenge, which runs June 3 - 9 in BC and across Canada.

“It just makes sense, economically and environmentally, and it feels like you are making a difference,” said Ryan Schmidt, the Township’s Manager of Energy and Solid Waste, who regularly buses in to work, as he and his wife made the decision to downsize to one car.

The Commuter Challenge is a friendly competition between Canadian cities and workplaces that encourages employees to forgo single occupancy car travel and make more sustainable commutes by walking, cycling, carpooling/ride-sharing, or using transit to get to work.

Last year, 20,000 employees from nearly 1,600 companies across Canada participated in the Commuter Challenge. Local businesses are invited to get on board this year, encourage their staff to leave their cars at home, and sign up to win great prizes. Visit commuterchallenge.ca or commuterchallengebc.ca.

The event is being held during Canadian Environment Week, and Krista Daniszewski, the Township’s Sustainability Programs Specialist, said action taken during the Challenge can lead to new habits that have a lasting and positive impact.

“The Commuter Challenge was my incentive to try carpooling three years ago, and I’ve been doing it ever since,” said Daniszewski. “It’s a great opportunity to give it a try, and since then I’ve saved thousands of dollars on gas and car maintenance.”

Township employees Jessica Horne, Sandy Leung, and Mustafa Ibrahim, who come in to the Township from Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam, cite many advantages to travelling in one car together: “We carpool because it’s convenient, faster, better for the environment, and saves everyone a bit of money,” said Horne. “We also enjoy the chance to socialize during the trip.”

Daniszewski noted that reducing the number of people who drive alone in their cars also reduces the need for parking as the community and staffing needs continue to grow.

For Township Communications Coordinator Amy Weiss, a sustainable commute is also a healthy one: “I cycle to work to squeeze in a little Vitamin D and fresh air before starting my day in the office, and the bonus workout is a great addition to my training schedule,” she said. “With my commute from White Rock being 26 km each way, and primarily uphill on the way home, biking to and from work gives me a solid endurance hill session which increases my cardio capacity and compliments my other sports training.”

“I cycle to work because people tell me I need the training,” said Alazhar Shamshuddin of the Township’s Information Technology Department, who is preparing for a much larger bike journey. “Apparently you can’t just ride your bike across Canada without being able to ride it to work first. Who knew?! Because I try to heed sound advice when I hear it, I do the 48 km round-trip between Delta and the Township of Langley once or twice a week in the hopes that it will increase my chances of making it to St. John’s, Newfoundland later this fall.”

The Commuter Challenge supports the Township’s Corporate Energy Management Policy by demonstrating leadership on carbon emission reductions, and the municipality has participated in the initiative for several years.

The Township encourages its employees to make sustainable commutes year-round, through incentives such as dedicated carpooling parking spots. Additional prime parking spots for carpoolers will be implemented during the Challenge to encourage staff to team up and travel together.

Last year, 26 Township employees commuted sustainably, avoiding approximately 750 kg of carbon dioxide emissions.

For more information, contact Krista Daniszewski, Sustainability Programs Specialist at 604-533-6090 x2208, or kdaniszewski@tol.ca.


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