Pedal power: Mac honoured with Smart Commute award

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McMaster has been named Smart Commute Hamilton Employer of the Year by Metrolinx.


Strap a briefcase to your bicycle. Hustle to catch the bus at King and James. Take a turn behind the wheel in the office carpool.

It may be a simple part of your daily routine, but these actions go a long way towards promoting a cleaner and more efficient city. Thanks to a campus-wide sustainability push throughout the past 12 months, McMaster employees have a lot to be proud of when it comes to going green.

The University has been named Smart Commute Hamilton Employer of the Year by Metrolinx – the provincial agency behind the Big Move and other sustainable transit initiatives in Ontario. All Smart Commute award winners were selected by an independent panel of community members from the Hamilton and Toronto area.

“So many employers in the city are doing an amazing job of promoting sustainability, and it’s great to be recognized as a leader in this field,” says Kate Whalen, senior manager, University Sustainability. “It’s an extra pat on the back.”

For the past several years, Whalen and her colleagues have been coordinating campus initiatives such as “Bike to Work Day” as a fun way to promote cycling and sustainable transit among McMaster employees. On any given morning, cyclists can choose between more than 1,300 available spaces on campus to lock up their ride.

For days when driving is absolutely necessary, a flex pass parking program was launched earlier this year, offering 10 entries and exits for $90 at several gated lots on campus. McMaster’s main campus also boasts 34 designated carpool parking spaces, and a CarShare  rental vehicle is available for drivers aged 21 and up. For city and regional transit riders, the Compass information kiosk in MUSC also began selling re-loadable Presto cards for HSR and GO travelers earlier this year.

“Many commuters who use alternative transportation say it’s the best part of their day,” says Whalen. “They’re able to read, work or simply relax on the train or bus, or get a good workout by cycling to and from campus.”

Smart Commute Hamilton is an official city program, with funding and support from Metrolinx. Throughout the past five years, the initiative has helped commuters prevent more than 280,000 kg of greenhouse gas emissions by eliminating more than 1,000,000 km of car travel. Fifteen organizations in the area are currently partnered with Smart Commute Hamilton, including more than 88,000 employees.

Eager to learn more about smart commuting in the Hamilton area? Email sustainability@mcmaster.ca, and find out which option is best for you.

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