Blog Contributor: Nolan Kelly
The Canada Games Park being built on Brock University’s campus opens the door for many exciting possibilities as it will be an invaluable athletic and research asset that will benefit thousands of lives both now and in the future. While this is great news for Brock University and the Niagara Region as a whole, the construction of the Canada Games Park means that there will be significant changes to campus over the coming years. One of the areas that is currently undergoing construction on campus is the Zone 2 Parking Lot and this has resulted in a decrease in parking availability. Due to the loss of parking availability students have been encouraged to take advantage of the buy-back program offered by Brock. While many are understandably upset and frustrated by this situation, this change has the potential to encourage students, staff, and faculty to make a more sustainable transportation choice moving forward. One of the most sustainable and under-utilized methods is carpooling.
While carpooling has been around forever, the St. Catharines and greater Niagara region have not been taking full advantage of the benefits that come with this method of transportation. Due to urban sprawl and car ownership growth, traffic, pollution, and health risks are all on the rise. When it comes to most car trips, including those taken by students, most are done so by one person, which is not a sustainable mode of transportation (Demissie, de Almeida Correia & Bento, 2013). Unfortunately, the Niagara Region is not an exception to this and in in 2016, the region had the lowest overall proportion of commuters using sustainable transportation in Canada with only 20.8% of residents doing so (Statistics Canada, 2017). This is kind of surprising because according to Statistics Canada, the Niagara region had the lowest average commute time in the Greater Golden Horseshoe area in 2016.
With the parking changes on campus, there is no better time to consider carpooling. The benefits of carpooling are far ranging and evident as they include environmental, social, financial, convenience and health related benefits! Carpooling takes more cars off the road and as mentioned above many of these vehicles are single person commuters, this will help to reduce carbon emissions and also decrease congestion, which can also lower stress levels while driving. The social benefits that come with carpooling include riding with friends during your commute. It has been proven that your likelihood to carpool drastically increases when it’s with friends or people that you already know (Pan & Sharkey, 2017). Not only does carpooling bring people together and help the environment but it also makes financial sense as commuters can split on travel expenses and also reduce the wear and tear on your vehicle by alternating vehicles. Carpooling can also provide a more convenient option as bus schedules are often rigid and do not accommodate with everyone’s schedule. Carpooling is even better for your health, as air pollution caused by vehicular travel is linked to a number of health concerns including respiratory diseases, cardiovascular disease, allergies and neurological effects. By carpooling, you help reduce these health risks for yourself and everyone else.
Demissie, M. G., de Almeida Correia, G. H., & Bento, C. (2013). Exploring cellular network handover information for urban mobility analysis. Journal of Transport Geography, 31, 164-170.
Statistics Canada 2017. (2017) Commuters using sustainable transportation in census metropolitan areas. Retrieved from https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2016/as-sa/98-200-x/2016029/98-200-x2016029-eng.pdf
Pan, F., & Sharkey, J. (2017, July 5). The key to successful carpooling? Ride with people you actually like, say researchers | CBC News. Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/kitchener-waterloo/university-waterloo-bissan-ghaddar-carpool-drive-road-congestion-1.4190682