July 6th, 2016 | Alia Tulloch, Sustainable Kingston Plan Manager

commuteLast month Kingston rocked the Commuter Challenge, once again taking 1st place for mid-sized cities in Canada. The Commuter Challenge is a national program that encourages people across Canada to “ditch the car” during the Canadian Environment Week and take a more sustainable form of transportation (transit, cycling, walking, carpool) to get to work. This year, Commuter Challengers across Canada collectively avoided the creation of almost 250,000 kilograms of C02 by choosing more sustainable forms of transportation. Now that the challenge is over, how can we keep the momentum going?

One of the suggestions by KFL&A Public Health is to have workplace policies that encourage employees to choose active transportation (which is any sort of human-powered transportation). What sorts of policies make it easier to be physically active? The Alberta Centre for Active Living has some policy suggestions, including flexible dress codes and providing bicycle storage. KFL&A Public Health also has a great general resource on promoting physical activity in the workplace.

Knowing that something is good for you is one thing, but finding the motivation to follow through on that knowledge can be tough. Gamification is a fun way to increase engagement and inspire employees to change their behaviour. Durham Region’s Workplace Activity Challenge provides a number of different ways workplaces can help encourage physical activity using fun, easy activities. Corporate Wellness Magazine has some tips to consider when designing your own workplace challenges.


Image: Press-Office City of Münster, Germany

Why is it important to encourage and support active transportation? Workplace benefits include lower employee turnover, greater productivity, and fewer days off due to illness. In addition, commuting more sustainably helps shrink our carbon footprint, reduces congestion, and lessens wear and tear on our transportation infrastructure. Lastly, inactivity is also a serious public health concern that costs our healthcare system billions of dollars annually.

So the 2016 Commuter Challenge might be over, but let’s not stop now. The weather is beautiful, and there are so many reasons to continue cycle, walk, run, and skate to work. Take the challenge!