I thought I would share my 2013 experience with Commuter Challenge to entice you to get involved for 2014. It’s easy, I promise.
This past June I decided to do something that I have wanted to do for years. I got out of my car. And walked. Biked. Bussed. I even found an excuse to ride the ferry one day. I coerced my colleagues to give it a chance as well.
Our office is located on Windmill Road in Burnside; not the friendliest conditions for biking and foot travel in some sections, but manageable, and it’s come a long way over the past decade. Proximity wasn’t an issue for me; it was under 6 kilometres from door to door.
Let me back up.
Early in May of 2013 I was invited to an event announcing the Commuter Challenge and encouraging individuals and businesses to become involved for the week of June 2-8, which also happened to coincide with HRM’s Bike Week. This is it! I thought. This is my time to leave the car at home; with a recent career change I had no necessity to drive my car into the office. In fact, I had the flexibility to work from home from time to time if I preferred.
But what was I hoping to achieve in participating in the Commuter Challenge?
My environmentally conscious side wanted me to decrease my carbon footprint; wishful thinking perhaps. I was hoping to incorporate my daily fitness into the biking and walking I planned to do. I also felt that my dependency on my car was ever increasing. Not only did it get me from point A to point B on my own schedule, it contained my spare pair of shoes, sweater, water bottle, make-up and gym bag. It was my closet on wheels, my safety blanket, my crutch. My life. And I’ve relied on mine since 2003.
Getting set up for Commuter Week was easy. I owned a bike, sneakers and a handful of bus tickets, along with ample rain gear. I had zero excuses.
It took me a few extra minutes every day to prepare. I had to ask myself: do I have my lunch? Can I walk in these clothes? Is it going to rain? Do I have any outside appointments? etc. But those are all manageable challenges, and I feel the week was a success.
Monday’s schedule brought downtown meetings, which was a perfect excuse to ride the ferry. I’ve always called the ferry the cheapest thrill in Halifax and it didn’t disappoint. A colleague joined me and we felt very urban chic.
Tuesday and Friday I caught a bus. I live a five minute walk to the Dartmouth bus terminal so the world was my oyster, timing wise. The 51 got me to and from work in approximately twenty minutes, the perfect amount of time to do some light reading.
Wednesday was beautiful and sunny and I made the trek by foot. In just around an hour of listening to my new iPod playlist, I made it to work feeling refreshed and happy. I had already had an hour to myself, and many calories torched. )This made up for my walk home starvation meltdown that resulted in ice cream.)
Thursday I dusted off my bike and rode to work. This was the most stressful of commutes for me, since Burnside is not used to bikers and the lanes just don’t allow for extra space. Windmill until it merges with Victoria is dandy. The last 1000 metres had me sweating bullets. But, I know this would get easier with practice.
As the anniversary of the first Commuter Challenge approaches I’m excited to get involved again. Throughout the year I’ve run to work, taken the bus and carpooled with colleagues from time to time, much more than I had before. I encourage you to give the Commuter Challenge a try this June; more information on the program can be found here. And don’t forget to share your experiences this year using #commuterchallengehfx!
Becky Davison is the Chamber’s Marketing & Communication Specialist. She manages the Chamber communications including Business Voice, Outlook and All Ships Rise. Becky develops content and works with members to ensure that issues are being covered and communicated through our membership and business community. Media releases, internal and external communications and managing web content are also Becky’s responsibilities. Becky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (902) 481-1234.