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Queen's competes in Commuter Challenge

Campus community joins nation-wide competition to promote sustainable transportation.

Illustration of a cyclist and pedestrian in Kingston.
The Commuter Challenge runs from June 2-9, 2019.

Queen’s is poised to take on teams across the country in the 2019 Commuter Challenge – a week-long competition designed to encourage active and sustainable commuting. The contest, which runs from June 2-9, 2019, encourages participants to reduce their use of personal vehicles in favour of more environmentally friendly transportation.

“Participating in initiatives like the Commuter Challenge is part of the university’s broader efforts to create a culture of sustainability, and we are pleased to invite the campus community to join our workplace team this year,” says Donna Janiec, Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration). “We strive to support Queen’s students, staff, and faculty in their efforts to consciously choose environmentally-friendly alternatives.”

Participants walk, run, cycle, carpool or take public transit to work and then log these trips at CommuterChallenge.ca. Each kilometre traveled is tallied on the website, as workplaces and cities go head-to-head in a friendly contest to decrease CO2 emissions. In 2018, through their participation in the competition, Canadians saved the equivalent of 263,140 kilograms of CO2 emissions from being released.

Last year, 216 Queen’s employees took part in the challenge – the largest workplace team in Kingston to participate. Combined, Queen’s team members traveled 14,636 km, ultimately preventing the equivalent of 2200 kilograms of CO2 emissions.

“In past years, the Queen’s community has demonstrated that local action can make a real difference in advancing sustainability, not just at Queen’s or in Kingston, but across the country,” says Nathan Splinter, Manager of Energy and Sustainability at Queen’s. “Changing the way we commute can also make for better health and wellbeing,” says Splinter, noting that in 2018, Queen’s Commuter Challenge team members burned a combined 135,240 calories in changing how they travel to and from campus.

The Queen’s community can take part by registering via the unique team link, and then logging their sustainable transportation throughout the week. On June 4, Queen’s will host a Roll-In Breakfast in front of the JDUC, at the corner of University Avenue and Union Street, from 7:30 to 9:30 am. Free breakfast and coffee will be available for all individuals who cycle to work as part of Cycle Week, an event organized by Cycle Kingston that coincides with the Commuter Challenge.

Man using his smartphone to engage a Dropbike.
Dropbike users can book a bicycle using their smartphones. (Photo by: Dropbike)

Watch the Queen’s Sustainability and City of Kingston Twitter feeds for city-wide events taking place in support of the Commuter Challenge week, along with prize draws and announcements. The Sustainability Office will also be awarding some prizes for outstanding Queen’s Commuter Challenge team members – including a number of free Dropbike rides.

Dropbike, a bike share program that first debuted on campus in 2017, has returned after a year-long restructuring period. The company has signed a new license agreement with Queen’s to make its services available on campus.

Starting in June 2019, up to 80 Dropbikes will be available at 18 locations across campus for members to use for errands, commuting, or recreation. Bikes will be available at several locations including the Biosciences Complex, Botterell Hall, Duncan McArthur Hall, Mackintosh-Corry Hall (in the secure bike parking area), Queen’s Centre, and Victoria Hall. Membership can be accessed via a smartphone app and ride rentals cost as little as $1/hour. Download the app from the Dropbike website.

The Dropbike program joins the cohort of alternative transportation options supported by the university, including the Queen’s Transpass and carpooling programs.