What is Active Transportation?

Active transportation refers to any form of human-powered transportation – walking, cycling, using a wheelchair, in-line skating or skateboarding. There are many ways to engage in active transportation, whether it is walking to the bus stop, or cycling to school/work.

Active transportation includes many active modes and methods of travel such as:

  • walking/jogging/running;
  • cycling;
  • in-line skating;
  • skateboarding;
  • non-mechanized wheelchairing; and
  • snowshoeing/skiing.

There are numerous benefits from active transportation:

  • Health – Active transportation provides an opportunity to be physically active on a regular basis.
  • Social – Active transportation is accessible to Canadians and increases social interactions.
  • Transportation – Active transportation reduces road congestion.
  • Environmental – Active transportation is environmentally-friendly and can contribute to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Economic – Active transportation saves money on gas and parking.

Taking Action

Here are some ideas that may help you to adopt more active modes of transportation:

  • Think twice about using your car for every trip. Could you walk or use your bike instead?
  • Dust off your bicycle and cycle to work when the weather permits.
  • Trade in your dress shoes for running shoes, strap on a backpack and walk all, or part of, the way to work/school.
  • Instead of driving your kids to the park, why not walk or make it a family outing on your bikes?
  • If you are considering moving, think about the transportation options available to you in the new locations you are considering. How far will the distance be to those places you regularly need to reach? Could you walk to do most of your small errands? How far away is the nearest school for your child? Is this new neighbourhood "pedestrian friendly"? Check out Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Choosing a Neighbourhood with Sustainable Features for more ideas.

Our communities, workplaces and schools must also support active transportation.

Communities that endorse active transportation:

  • have dedicated bicycle lanes and routes;
  • advocate for sharing the road with cyclists;
  • undertake specific measures to ensure the safe integration of pedestrians, cyclists and other active users among motorized vehicle traffic;
  • regularly maintain and upgrade pedestrian and cycling facilities;
  • provide storage for bicycles throughout the community;
  • have an integrated network of pedestrian and cycling paths that are designed for efficient transportation as well as recreation;
  • favour urban design that reduces the distances that people have to travel to get to work, retail areas, schools and recreational/leisure pursuits;
  • encourage the retail and service sectors to support customers who use active modes of transportation;
  • plan streetscapes to be visually-pleasing and inviting to pedestrians;
  • have a network of greenspaces throughout the urban and suburban areas;
  • make access to public transit easily integrated with pedestrian and cycling facilities;
  • encourage driver education about sharing the road with others; and
  • encourage feedback from citizens, pedestrian and cycling advocacy groups.

Workplaces that endorse active transportation:

  • support and encourage their employees to adopt active transportation;
  • provide secure bicycle storage, lockers and shower facilities for employees;
  • allow more flexible dress codes;
  • organize workplace challenges, employee recognition programs or support community events to increase awareness;
  • work with municipal planners to map out safe and efficient routes to work and to address infrastructure or safety problems;
  • emphasize reduced motorized transportation while at work and encourage more active modes; and
  • provide or subsidize safe cycling or in-line skating clinics for their employees.

Schools that endorse active transportation:

  • support and encourage their students to adopt an active way to get to school;
  • work with the municipality to identify safe routes for children while addressing safety and infrastructure barriers;
  • encourage parents to form "escorted walks" to and from school for young neighbourhood children;
  • have teachers work with children to identify the safest routes to get to school while teaching children about traffic and pedestrian safety;
  • offer cycling and in-line skating skill and safety courses; and
  • work with parents, motorists and the community at large, to make the trip to school a safe trip for children and youth.

The Public Health Agency of Canada is one of many organizations committed to promoting active transportation. While not an exhaustive list, the following list includes some of the organizations and resources addressing this issue:

Federal Government Departments and Agencies

Public Health Agency of Canada

Health Canada

Environment Canada

Transport Canada

Infrastructure Canada

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

Non-Governmental Organizations & Activities

ACT Canada

Green Communities Canada

Centre for Sustainable Transportation

Federation of Canadian Municipalities

Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute

Commuter Challenge

Better Environmentally Sound Transportation

Vélo Québec

International Walk to School Month - October

Share the Road Cycling Coalition

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