Can I get a ride? 

In Whistler in summer there are often people standing on both sides of the road with their thumbs stuck out waiting for someone to offer them a ride.

Whistler RCMP Constable Vadik. said that he’d seen more hitchhikers in this part of the province than in larger municipalities.

"I know that Whistler’s a transient town and employment’s hard to come by, people don’t get paid that much and may not have their own vehicle so they rely on others to hitch rides," he said.

Section 182 (3) of the motor vehicle act states that "a person must not be on a roadway to solicit a ride, employment or business from the occupant of a vehicle."

Constable Vadik at the RCMP said that there are signs posted on Whistler roadways indicating that hitchhiking is prohibited but it wasn’t a high priority for the RCMP of Whistler to enforce that particular part of the motor vehicle act.

People have been hitchhiking along the Sea to Sky highway since Whistler was first constructed, way back when Squamish was the only place to pick up your groceries.

Today the use of hitchhiking as a means of getting around is still a popular means of transport.

However the uncertainty of who will be offering you a ride or who you will be picking is a gamble that many people still choose to take.

Vadik said that it just as dangerous in Whistler as in any area to hitchhike or pick up a hitchhiker

"You’re taking a risk by taking a ride or picking up someone you don’t know," he said.

There are other options to hitchhiking than buying a car such as the bus, but those options haven’t stopped people from using hitchhiking as an alternative.

Scott Pass, manager of Whistler and Valley Transit, said that people often hitchhike to save money or because they are heading somewhere that the bus route doesn’t go, such as Vancouver or Squamish.

"We are very aware that there is a need for a bus service to Squamish and we are looking into a way that we can get a extended bus service going similar to the one we have between Whistler and Pemberton," he said.

"Right now it’s just the lack of provincial funding that’s restricting that," said

The Jack Bell Foundation has operated a carpool service between Whistler and Squamish for the last two years for frequent commuters between the two towns who can make a full-time travel commitment for at least three months.

The non-profit organization began in Vancouver in 1992 when local philanthropist Jack Bell decided to do something about traffic congestion and pollution, which he viewed as one of the biggest problems in the Lower Mainland.

He modelled the JBF after the successful Seattle Metro vanpool-rideshare program.

Leon Tuebes executive director of the Jack Bell foundation said that the carpool and vanpool commute service between Whistler and Squamish is definitely a much safer option than hitchhiking.

This service however, isn’t designed for people who only require a ride every now and then.

Tuebes said there is a possibility for those people to use the Jack Bell service if a frequent registered driver has a spare seat in their car.

He said that the foundation was planning to put up another Web site for short-term commuters to make it easier for them to arrange a ride.

Another option is the Whistler Freeride service, which links vehicle owners to people who require a ride within the Whistler to Squamish area.

People can register that they want a ride or are willing to give a ride on the Whistler Jobs Web site.

The website for the Jack Bell Foundation Rideshare is www.ride-share.com. You can find Whistler Freeride at www.whistlerjobs.com .

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