Transportation is the number one contributor to greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change. And working from home increases the change of lifestyle diseases.
Active transportation could be a solution.
“We sit in our cars, we sit on buses, we sit on trains, and so we’re accumulating a lot of sedentary time during transportation as well. And as many of you are likely aware, sedentary time is associated with lots of negative health outcomes,” said Shilpa Dogra, an assistant professor at University of Ontario Institute of Technology, during her presentation to the Active Transportation and Sustainability Advisory Committee.
In 2019, the city of Barrie adopted the transportation master plan to enhance walking and cycling infrastructure. The city has also set aggressive net-zero emission goals. In 2017, the city council passed the climate change adaptation strategy and in 2018 allocated $180,000 towards implementing it.
Dogra has been doing research on active transportation using e-bikes. The research was done in Oshawa neighborhoods but is applicable to Barrie also. “What we found overall was that our neighborhoods were not really supporting active living,” she said.
“The risk of injury and accidents was similar when we compare ebike users to conventional cyclists.” She tried to dispel common misconceptions about ebikes related to safety and environment. “There was a clear sort of indication in the literature that there’s a significant reduction in emissions, lower energy requirements for pedal assist e bikes.
One of the major focuses of Dogra’s work is equitable transportation to ensure barrier free movement of people of all ages, color, income levels and ability levels within the community. According to her, integrated transportation can help achieve that goal.
At the end, she recommended a few solutions that Barrie can adopt to get citizen’s interest in ebikes. “A lot of the work around active transportation hits so many municipal priorities, barrier free, vision zero, net zero, age friendly. And so I think we need to start taking a broader integrated approach and really pushing some of this work forward as a solution to multiple problems.”