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Taking up the Commuter Challenge

Hundreds of members of the Queen’s community are leaving their cars at home this week, opting instead to walk, cycle or bus to work. They’re taking part in the annual Commuter Challenge, a national weeklong competition that encourages people to find an alternative way driving alone to get to work.

[Commuter Challenge]
As part of the Commuter Challenge, Queen's University will be hosting the Roll-in Breakfast on Tuesday morning. (University Communications)

Queen’s is taking part again this year and is encouraging everyone participating to log their travels at commuterchallenge.ca. From there, participants can see the greenhouse gas emissions they’ve avoided, the calories they’ve burned, and track how well the university, Kingston and the province are doing as well.

“The Commuter Challenge brings awareness to how easy it can be to find an alternative form of transportation,” says Aaron Ball, Sustainability Manager. “Whether it’s walking, cycling, using public transport or carpooling, we hope the event gets people to reconsider how they get to work.”

Along with helping the environment and getting some exercise, there’s a reputation to uphold as well. Queen’s was the city’s largest participating group last year and Kingston has taken first place in its size category for three years running. Last year alone, Kingstonians responded to the Commuter Challenge by travelling more than 37,000 km by using active transportation and those changes saved 2,475 L of fuel and prevented the emission of 5,702 kg of carbon dioxide emissions.

Mr. Ball says that each person who participates can add up to a big effect on our environmental impact.

“At Queen’s the average commuter produces 2-3 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year, so anyone we can convince to change that, even part-time, has a large effect. Your heart will thank you for the changes you make as well.”

To make cycling to work easier, the university is holding a “roll-in breakfast” on Tuesday morning at University and Union, passing out coffee and breakfast foods. The Sustainability Office is being joined by the Alma Mater Society and Athletics and Recreation at the breakfast station to help pour coffee and share tips on going green and getting your weekly 150.

Even people not cycling to work on Tuesday are encouraged to come to the booth to sign up for campus’ new bicycle registration system. The online database, which was created by three Computer Science students, aims to deter bicycle theft by letting anyone with a NetID register their bike using their serial number, a photograph and recording other distinguishing features.