Commuter Challenge gets cars off the road 

Participation rate tripled compared to past challenges

For two weeks, participants in the Whistler Way Commuter Challenge walked, cycled, bused and carpooled to work and back home again in a bid to win a season’s pass for Whistler-Blackcomb as well as credit for their businesses.

For people who don’t own cars or already walk, ride or carpool to work, it was nothing out of the ordinary. For others, however, it was a completely new experience.

"A lot of different people really got into the contest," said Emma DalSanto, Traffic Demand Manager for the municipality. "One group at work started a car pool from their neighbourhood, and when one of the people dropped out because they had to go to Vancouver, the driver decided to take the bus so he could make his 40 points.

"He’s been in Whistler for years, but had never ridden the bus before that day."

Competitors earned up to eight points a day for taking transit alternatives – four points for cycling, walking, taking the bus, and carpooling with three or more people; two points for two-person car pooling. You needed a minimum of 40 points over the two weeks if you wanted to qualify for the draw for the season’s pass.

Businesses were also ranked according to their participation rate and the number of total points earned compared to the number of points available. The level of commitment and co-ordination from participating businesses impressed DalSanto.

A total of 65 different local businesses participated, bringing 901 employees to the Commuter Challenge. Another 17 people registered as individuals.

"We had triple the number of participants in September, when it can be cold and rainy, than we had when the Commuter Challenge was just a one-day clean air event in June," DalSanto said.

The municipality had the highest percentage of staff participation in the large organization category (100 or more total employees), with 53 per cent taking part. Municipal administrator Jim Godfrey, the top point earner for the RMOW with 100 points, accepted the award on behalf of the municipal staff.

Tourism Whistler was a close second in participation with 48 per cent of staff taking part, but beat other large organizations in the race to earn the most points per staff member.

Among the medium companies (11 to 99 employees) RBC Royal Bank won both the participation and points award with all 19 staff members taking part.

In the small business category, 10 local businesses tied for the participation award with 100 per cent involvement: Brent Harley and Associates, The Body Shop, Cows, Cable 6, Coast Mountain Vet Services, Hostelling International Whistler Hostel, Race and Company, Whistler Eye Clinic, Whistler Housing Authority and Whistler Physio 2 at Creekside.

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