posted on May 28: Keep our air clean: Bike, run, walk or skate to work June 3-9


[img_inline align=”right” src=””]Dust off that bicycle. Dig out your running shoes. Try on those shiny, new rollerblades.

The Commuter Challenge is coming to Hamilton in June and McMaster commuters are being encouraged to bicycle, walk, run, or skate to work.

“Leave your car at home and take up the commuter challenge” is the message from Green Venture during National Environment Week, June 3 -9. Why does Green Venture want you to leave your car at home? The answer is a four-letter word: smog.

The City of Hamilton and several organizations in the region are participating in the national initiative aimed at keeping our air clean. And McMaster is being asked to do the same.

The challenge provides McMaster faculty, staff and students with a chance to demonstrate their concern for the environment and increase the University's participation in the event, which averaged about 40 participants last year. (It was the first year for Hamilton and McMaster to join in the event and there was little time to prepare for and promote the event.)

“This is an opportunity for the McMaster community to build on the momentum and interest that was created last year. We know faculty, staff and students are committed to the environment and to sustainable transportation,” says Jennifer Dawson, air quality project co-ordinator for Green Venture, which is organizing participation in the Second Annual Hamilton Commuter Challenge.

The event is aimed at everyone who commutes, including those who regularly travel to and from work by bicycle or foot. It's not just for those who drive to and from work everyday.

While commuters are encouraged to cycle, paddle, carpool, walk or run to work for the duration of Environment Week, the focus for McMaster will be on getting as many people as possible to participate on Wednesday, June 6, the day of the Canadian Commuter Challenge, a larger, country-wide competition held each year on Clean Air Day Canada.

Hamilton placed ninth in the competition last year among 52 communities across the country that participated in the challenge.

Commuter Challenge events in Hamilton begin on Sunday, June 3 with a Fresh Air Frenzy and Transportation Fair at Hamilton's Pier 4. There will be bus tours, canoe rides and displays on how to protect the environment. June 6 is Totally Transit Day when local celebrities, Green Venture and Hamilton Steel Railway staff will be handing out “goodies” to people who use the bus.

Air pollution, caused by automobile exhaust, adds about one billion dollars to federal health care costs, says Green Venture. In addition, the Ministry of the Environment estimates that smog causes 1,800 premature deaths each year in Ontario alone.

(Editor's note: Individuals will be able to register online to record their participation in the Hamilton Commuter Challenge. We will post the Web address for the online registration as soon as it is available. In the meantime, more information about the Hamilton Commuter Challenge is available at the Web site listed below.)