It is hard to go anywhere within the city limits and not hear the gentle rumble of a car driving down the street. For about 75 per cent of Canadians, according to a 2007 Statistics Canada report, motor vehicles are the transportation method of choice.
Driving may be necessary in the dead of winter or if you commute from out of the city. However, spending more time outside enjoying the fresh air rather than shivering in our cars is far more appealing now that the weather is getting warmer.
For those of us living within the city limits, and particularly in the downtown area, there are many other transportation options to experiment with.
The 2007 Statistics Canada report also shows that only five to 15 per cent of Canadians walk or cycle to work as their usual mode of transportation. The other 10 per cent take public transit. This has ramifications on two levels: the environment and your personal health.
Vehicles contribute to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions. Air pollutants are a serious global concern and the quality of the air we breathe has significantly diminished over time, due in part to motor vehicles.
Public transit and carpooling are both better options than a single person driving in a car because they decrease the number of vehicles being driven, which correlates to a decrease in pollutants being emitted into the air.
Public transit is useful for travelling long distances.
If the continual increase in bus fares deters you from taking public transit but you still have a long way to travel, bicycles are an ideal option. From the centre of a city, a cyclist can reach most necessary destinations within 30 minutes. It won’t take too much longer to bike than it would to bus or drive a car.
Winnipeg’s wide streets make it easier for drivers and cyclists to share the road, but the lack of bike paths is a contributing problem to everyone’s safety.
Walking, although a slower method of transportation, ensures better safety and more access to areas where bikes might have a hard time getting to – for example, underground walkways or overpasses.
Walking and cycling are also a better choice for the environment than public transit, with the added benefit that they are fantastic for your personal well-being. Exercise such as walking and cycling reduces stress and increases mental clarity. The cardio aspect also raises the heart rate and strengthens the legs and core.
Rollerblades and skateboards also rev up the heart and are faster than walking to get you to where you need to be.
Rather than worrying about filling up with gas and paying car insurance, buy a good pair of shoes and you will be all set. Going to the gym is not a necessity if you are looking to get in shape.
Trade your car for your own two legs for transportation and you can get some exercise and get to your destination.
University of Winnipeg student Sagan Morrow writes a health and wellness blog. Check it out at http://livingintherealworld.net/healthy.
Published in Volume 64, Number 25 of The Uniter (April 1, 2010)