Tim Brandts day isnt complete unless hes put his feet to the pedals. The Crescentwood resident has been cycling for 60 years, the last 20 of them year-round.
I gave up my drivers licence 15 years ago and chose to make cycling my main method of transportation from then on, says Brandt. The feeling of powering myself with my body is empowering. I realize and am grateful for the healthfulness to be able to do this, and it makes me feel blessed, happy and free.
Its the most efficient method of transportation when everything is taken into consideration (personal energy, health, environmental impact, cost) and it is invigorating.
Transportation is the single-largest contributor to air pollution and greenhouse-gas emissions in the country. Environment Canada estimates that with every 2,000 litres of gasoline, the average car produces 4,720 kilograms of carbon dioxide, 186.6 kilos of carbon monoxide, 28 kilos of volatile organic compounds and 25.6 kilos of nitrogen oxides.
One way to make a positive difference is to choose sustainable transportation modes that have lower impact on the environment, such as walking, cycling, public transit, carpooling, car sharing and green vehicles. An increasing number of people are doing just that.
I really hate cars and wish people would drive a lot less, Brandt says. I dont think most people need to own a car. Use the co-op, rent a car when you need, take taxis or buses if you cant cycle. Id like to see a movement against private automobiles much the way there has been a massive movement against smoking.
We need health-care professionals to help push for warning labels on new car doors like the labels on cigarette packs and we need across-the-board lower speed limits to make pedestrians and cyclists feel safer. Other cities in the world are leading in banning cars and in lowering speed limits. Paris is amazing the mayor is pushing 30 (km/h) everywhere, and our city lags far behind.
When hes not on a bicycle, Brandt enjoys walking, especially with others, and getting into his canoe.
I am fortunate to live within blocks of the river and a place to launch my canoe for city paddling, and I can easily walk it on a cart from home to the river.
With an increase in environmental concerns, a shift in how we think about transportation and a focus on ways to reduce harmful effects has become an emerging trend.
Osborne Village resident Louella Lester sold her car when she retired from teaching and joined Peg City Car Co-op in Spring 2017. She appreciates the convenience it provides and the places across the city that have parking spots near their entrances reserved for Peg City.
I can book online (or by phone) when I need a car, walk over to it, use my fob to get in, and drive off, Lester says.
If you own a car its easy to be lazy. I walk, ride a bicycle and use transit, if needed, so I dont need a car all the time, and only use one to go outside the city or when I have to do bigger shopping trips or a mix of errands. Its much cheaper than owning a car.
She points to the many associated costs of owning a vehicle, including purchase or lease payments, registration, insurance, parking, gas, maintenance and repairs.
Im using less gas, creating less pollution and less wear and tear on roads.
The car co-op is a great option for retired people who dont need a car daily, for younger people who cant afford to purchase one or as a second vehicle option for a family, Lester says.
I would never own a car again. I love the freedom of not having the responsibility of car ownership, but having a car to drive if I really need one, she says.
For those who prefer to stay off the roads entirely, walking can help reduce the risk of many diseases, offers stress reduction and boosts overall well-being. The health benefits of walking are well-known and as numerous as the environmental ones.
Thats why St. Boniface resident Paul Friesen didnt hesitate to make the two-hour walk to his sisters home in North Kildonan for Thanksgiving dinner this year. Whether for recreation, fitness or to get errands done, Friesen appreciates a good long walk.
My route is extremely determined by environmental considerations, Friesen says. I deliberately choose one that takes me along the river, enjoying the vegetation that occurs up and down the rivers bank, taking along three different devices to create visual souvenirs anything from a leaf on the ground to clouds, birds, sun in the sky of my walk through nature.
When I go on errands, for example to the grocery store, Ill often opt for a slightly longer, more suburban route rather than hear the more constant stream of traffic along St. Marys Road. When the purpose is to reach some physical destination, its a solitary and more direct interaction with my surroundings, somehow enriched by the varieties of the yards and houses that I pass, punctuated by friendly exchanges with strangers on the street.
Friesen walks with an additional 10 pounds of weight in his backpack to amplify the fitness aspect.
Im just about ready to add another five pounds to my backpack: Ive gotten so used to the 10 I have been carrying, its almost like nothing after a few minutes. It does great wonders for my mental health, as I focus on self-care.
Given increasing global consciousness, often reflected by incentive plans that bear witness to its profitability (lowering health-related costs to taxpayers and employers), people such as Brandt, Lester and Friesen are finding ways of getting around traffic jams, air pollution, greenhouse-gas emissions and transportation costs. They welcome the physical activity and are feeling the benefits of a healthier lifestyle.
St. Boniface community correspondent
Janine LeGal is a community correspondent for St. Boniface.