City challenges residents to Think Outside the Car - the process of changing the car culture has begun

News 100 redBy Staff

September 10th, 2015


City's biggest advocates for more bike use gather at the announce for the Car Free Sunday Burlington has planned.  All three will be on hand for the Bike to Work event that is taking place all across the Region and in many parts of the GTA..  The guy on the far right is Sound of Music honcho Dave Miller.

Mayor Golding will take part in the Kick off for a campaign to increase the use of alternate forms of transportation – and less use of cars for short trips.

The process has begun – the attempt to change the culture in the city and leave the car at home and choose active and alternative transportation instead is now a challenge from the office of the Mayor.

Billed as the Think Outside the Car Challenge, it will run from September 15th to – October 30th.

Many of the trips people take in Burlington are within a very short distance and are the ideal distances to cycle, walk or hop on a Burlington Transit bus. These alternative modes of transportation not only promote a healthy lifestyle but also save money on the cost of gas, parking and have very little impact on our air quality.”

To participate in the challenge:

1. Ask a friend or family member to take a photo or video of you using alternative transportation when you would have normally taken your vehicle. Share on social media using #ThinkOutsidetheCar.
2. Challenge three friends, family members or co-workers to choose alternative transportation instead of using their vehicle.
3. Be part of the change.

Campaign Kickoff Event
On Tuesday, September 15th , students at M.M. Robinson High School will be part of the kickoff event.

McMahon with a bike

Burlington MPP Eleanor McMahon has been a strong Share the Road advocate – she now wants people to make more use of bikes and public transit.

Eleanor McMahon, MPP Burlington and Danijel Ozimkovic, Transportation Technologist at the City of Burlington will be talking part in the event.

“Travelling by car is very popular in Burlington,” said Vito Tolone, acting director of transportation at the City of Burlington. “Ninety per cent of all trips within our city are made with an automobile. If we are going to reduce traffic congestion and create a greener city, the entire community needs to work together and consider other forms of transportation.”

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7 comments to City challenges residents to Think Outside the Car – the process of changing the car culture has begun

  • Tom Muir

    Great discussion! And everybody’s right – a study in contradiction.

    Nothing I say here means I oppose the promotion subject here. I’ve seen these before, but they are one-off things and then reality sets back in.

    Biking to school won’t work in winter. Even in nice weather, many are bused (which is better than all cars), and many are driven by parents. Some walk if they live very close, but many parents are paranoid.

    Biking to the GO won’t work in winter. Even in summer it has a long way it can go.

    We went to the Ex on a nice weekday in August, walked to Aldershot station which is 20 minutes away, south side. Parking lot was pretty full, but only 6 bikes in rack, one with a flat still there at night when we came back.

    We walk 45 minutes each way to Fortinos in Aldershot. Can’t buy too much to carry home. In summer fresh meat not on. Won’t do this every day.

    Shopping by bike is not practical, cannot carry much, and is dangerous as centre of gravity changes and control is difficult. Won’t work in winter or rain.

    Need a three wheel bike with big shopping cart on back, as I have seen in Europe, but I would never ride this anywhere near Plains Rd. Again, dangerous for most people. Still won’t work in bad weather.

    Greg’s point about the de-commercialization of south Burlington, especially Aldershot is right on. Even if the shops were in strip malls, which were built in their time, it worked.

    As Greg said, these are gone or going. As noted, replaced by seemingly endless blocks of apartments (or condos in the making) with only the small façade offices which are usually a minimum in relative floor space with little potential.

    We do need all the plans and infrastructure noted, to provide the alternatives and safety people need and many want.

    We are not getting it and like others I see no plans. Without a major transformation things are just going to get worse I’m afraid.

    Hard to go to City Hall with serious intent and asks when you only get 10 minutes. Right now Council is telling us to like it, or lump it.

    Anybody got a revolutionary plan besides us talking and arguing?

  • Chris Ariens

    Why not begin with the lowest hanging fruit? For example: trips to schools and trips to the GO stations. Those trips account for a significant percentage of Burlington residents’ travel, and the majority of those trips are by car.

    As someone who cycles most days to the GO station, its not necessary to have to wear special gear to cycle or change clothes. Cycling at a moderate speed exerts about the same amount of effort as walking. You don’t have to ride like you’re in the Olympics unless you want to do so. It’s not just a hobby, it’s a serious mode of transportation, year-round. Maybe only a few people will take a bike out in bad weather, but it’s the same thing with cars (except we spend something like $12 million dollars every year making it easier for them to get around). Other than now the Centennial path, bike lanes don’t get plowed at all.

    No it’s not the only way to get exercise, but it is still much better exercise than sitting in a car. For people who are time-stressed, converting some of their trips to active modes is a great way to build moderate exercise into the regular working day. Better than sitting in traffic when driving to the gym.

    In Burlington, to get to nearly any destination one must use or cross one or more of the major arterial roads (e.g. Fairview, Appleby Line, New St., Upper Middle, Guelph Line, Brant St, etc.) Most people will not be comfortable cycling on these heavily trafficked routes until we have some decent separation from speeding cars & trucks. Painted lines may be cheap but don’t cut it when it comes to safety. With decent protected bicycle lanes in place, our transportation system can serve far more people than it does now. Whether it’s Toronto, Vancouver, Austin, Memphis, New York, Madison, Portland, Amsterdam, I could list nearly any place in North America or Europe, cycling rates increased dramatically when good infrastructure was provided. Burlington is not different or unique in that respect. On Queen’s Quay in Toronto, cycling traffic increased 10-fold vs. before the recent addition of a protected two-way bike lane. And car traffic is not congested despite losing a lane in each direction.

    We need citizens to lead the change and demand facilities like these if we want them here in Burlington. That is the reason for promotions like #ThinkOutsideTheCar. If that were all we were doing, yes we will be in trouble. But until citizens are banging down the door asking for better active transport infrastructure, Councillors won’t put their jobs on the line to build it. We have a plan (the 2009 Cycling Master Plan), but it needs to be brought up to date with what’s happening all around us. The world has quickly recognized the benefits that the bicycle offers to offset some of the negative impacts of car-dependency. Burlington was once on the forefront, but we have fallen behind rapidly.

    Right now, all Council seems to hear when it comes to bike lanes is complaints about how cyclists don’t obey the rules and how $40,000 for bike lanes for just a few people is an extravagance. At the same time they approve another $20 million for fixing the roads with no one batting an eyelash. They need to hear from constituents en masse that the status quo won’t work, and that we need better options to help those who want to be able to use active transportation in the city. In turn, that will create additional capacity for those who have no choice but to remain in their cars.

  • James

    If this is City Hall’s idea of helping reduce traffic congestion, then our city is in trouble.

    Little challenges like this that provide nice photo op’s but that only a fraction of a percent of people will participate in (or even be aware of) are not the answer. Do they really expect to change the culture of Burlington when this city has been planned, designed, and constructed on the basis of requiring a car to get from one location to another?

    Look at the tools we’ve been provided with. With the exception of the downtown core, Burlington is not a walkable city, cycling is downright dangerous given the growing traffic congestion and aggressive drivers, public transit is severely lacking, and most of the city has to drive to access a train station. The reality is that for most, the car is and will continue to be their primary mode of transportation. Communities like Millcroft, Orchard, and Alton Village to name a few are great for walking your dog, but that’s about it. To access anything else, you must hop in your car.

    You can’t expect someone to paint your house white when you hand them a can of red.

    Simply saying we need to change over and over again isn’t going to get the job done when you’ve done nothing to give other reasonable alternatives. Give us the tools to change, and we will. In the meantime we’ll be in our cars, idling in traffic, frustrated, and wondering when City Hall is going to stop lollygagging and actually DO something to address the growing traffic issues.

  • Helene

    There are so many variables in the alternative transportation question that it is difficult to know where to begin. Are we really going to cycle in freezing, icy, wintry weather? Are commuters going to cycle to a GO station, in cycling gear, then have to change into office clothes somewhere? Cycling is a great hobby and wonderful exercise but it is not the only way to get exercise. We should encourage fitness and exercise, whatever the activity or sport. As I live quite close to a GO station I walk there and if I am returning in daylight hours in good weather, I walk home. Otherwise I ask a family member to drive to pick me up.

  • Chris Ariens

    Who’s nagging? Rest assured that no one is being forced to participate in the “Think Outside the Car” challenge. If it’s not in your self-interest to cycle or walk, don’t. Let me remind you, however that over 50% of the trips that Burlington residents take are less than 5km, an easy cycling distance. The entire urban portion of Burlington is no more than 8 km away from a GO station – less than a half hour bike ride even for someone of limited fitness. While it won’t work for every concievable situation, for some it might be worth a try. If it gets cars out of the way of your commute, why not support it instead of being so cynical?

    • Because this is papering over the fact that Burlington has no actual transit plan. It’s not like there is a plan to build dedicated bike lanes, subways, high quality walking spaces, etc. If you want european rates of non-car travel ok then. Are we going to limit buildings to 6 floors, build dedicated walking paths, have open squares, build sub ways, have waking only spaces, have big squares where restaurants can put chairs out, have world class art in open public spaces, enclosed train stations – nope nothing like that on the board.

      We have what is a really horrible transit system, a really horrible and dangerous cycling situation, really so-so walking spaces. And this is exceptionally dangerous because the south of Burlington is being de-commercialized. Transformed from a mixed area of living and shops (albeit mostly strip malls) into endless soviet style apartment block and small “facade offices”. The actual on the ground transformation is entirely negative.

      Ok lets hope that this works and 10% of people start walking and cycling everyplace they go. There is no reason to believe that though E.G. France has 96% of all trips by car. Even so 35,000 more people will unleash a congestion problem. You need real hard infrastructure for people to get around.

      What if February 1st people just look out the window and just say, you know 20 minutes in the cold is not for me. What you going to do then? Hope for the best, but we got to plan for the worst case. That people in Canada act like people elsewhere.

  • I’m all for investments in alternate modes of transportation, but people have got to be allowed to make choices based on their personal situation. If people don’t have free time, have multiple small children, are elderly or disabled, etc then we should hardly be nagging them for driving around in a place totally designed around it.

    The nearest grocery store is 5 km away from me – about an hour walk – that’s hardly a “short” distance. I did walk to the previous department store – all apartments now.

    The strategy of “behaviour modification” in which the city some how convinces people to act against there own self interest and judgement is a delusion. People have never acted that way in the past and I see no reason for them to start now.

    Look if you are going to place tens to hundreds of thousands of people into Burlington it’s an all strategy approach we are going to need greater road capacity AND high quality bike lanes AND a high quality pedestrian experience AND localized services. Provide a good experience and you wont have to nag people they will use the service by themselves.