Peterborough gets moving this May with Shifting Gears!
April 15th, 2019
By Lindsay Stroud, former GreenUP Manager of Transportation & Urban Design Programs
Over the past 15 years, the Shifting Gears challenge has become an annual tradition in our community. Each May, as participants from across the city shed their winter coats, they also shed old transportation habits, take the pledge, and embrace new ways of traveling from place to place.
Shifting Gears participants log their daily trips online as they walk, bike, take transit, and carpool around town. They encourage friends and co-workers to join in on the fun, and there is always a little friendly competition between workplaces and organizations throughout the month. During May, they are congratulated for their efforts with great perks and prizes!
This program model, whereby participants become a part of a community, working together to meet their goals over the course of the month, has been a terrific success. Each year, over 100 workplaces and 1,000 participants take part, logging tens of thousands of kilometers worth of active and sustainable travel and, it appears that these new travel habits stick!
The City of Peterborough reported last year that use of active transportation in our city is on the rise. In 2016, 10.2% of city residents walked or biked for daily trips when only 6.7% were recorded using these modes a decade earlier. And, another 4.3% use transit!
Earlier this year we reached out to past Shifting Gears participants to find out how they’ve made the shift to new transportation options. They had such practical, helpful tips that we decided to package them up into New-to-Shifting workshops for transit, commuting by bike, and commuting on foot.
Each of these 45-minute workshops will be offered to all new Shifting Gears participants through the weeks of April 22 and May 9. At the workshops, participants will receive how-to information, a Q&A session with the workshop mentors, an opportunity to sign up for a 1-1 consultation, and a bonus gift that will set them on track to making their shift stick.
A move to active and sustainable transportation brings with it many benefits that participants are drawn to, including reduced traffic congestion, better air quality, and more daily physical activity. Although these are motivators, participants are also quick to say that their new transportation choice has turned out to be convenient, purposeful, and often even fun!
Super Shifter Kate reflects, “The walk home from work in the afternoon gives me some time to process the day and separate work and home life.”
By tacking on a couple of extra blocks to his walk each day, Kylie tells us that he is able to catch up on his favourite podcast on the way to work.
The sounds of wildlife and water set the day off right for Transit user, and Super Shifter Karen, “I recently realized that the Trent Express runs quite regularly along Water Street, so now I like to walk down the laneway to the bus stop and watch the river, ducks, and sometimes an occasional osprey while I wait for the bus.”
Did you know that in Peterborough, the median trip distance traveled on weekdays in our city is only 2.7km and that 73% of all trips are less than 5km? “Most of my trips around town are less than 3km,” says Super Shifter Jaime, “So, I find it quite fast to get around town by bike.”
Those who have already made the shift are important mentors and motivators in our Shifting Gears community. Through surveys, social media, and at events, our Super Shifters have even more ways to share their tips, tricks, and stories in 2019.