October 31, 2005

York Region encourages car pooling, public transit, cycling and walking

NEWMARKET – Two initiatives approved by York Regional Council last week will help reduce the number of cars on regional roads, increase the number of cyclists and provide additional opportunities for our residents to walk.
A proposal to develop a Pedestrian and Cycling Master Plan in support of local municipal efforts focuses on establishing bicycle paths and walkway systems.  An Employee Trip Reduction Program encourages York Region employees to reduce the amount of travel, use alternate modes of transportation versus driving alone or avoid travel altogether.
“York Regional Council is proud to take leadership in reducing car emissions, improving air quality and encouraging active and healthy lifestyles,” said Regional Chair and CEO Bill Fisch.  “Our Employee Trip Reduction Program is comprehensive and is leading edge in the Greater Toronto Area.”
The Pedestrian and Cycling study will also look at options for interconnecting key nodes of walking and cycling pathways, and for increasing access to them by York Region residents to create one large and connected network.
“A community with walking and bike paths is more liveable,” said Markham Regional Councillor Frank Scarpitti, Chair of the Region’s Planning and Economic Development Committee.  “Our Region becomes more attractive as a place in which to work and operate a business.”
The Go for Green/Environics (1998) study, a national survey on active transportation, found that 82 per cent of Canadians showed an interest in walking and 66 per cent showed an interest in cycling, indicating they would cycle 30 minutes or more to work if cycling lanes were available.
The recreational benefits of walking and cycling, along with increased use of transit are far reaching:
• Less environmental impacts, cleaner air to breathe and increased exercise generally lead to the improved health of residents
• More people taking public transit reduces traffic congestion and leads to an even more efficient transportation network that reduces our dependence on the automobile
To encourage carpooling, the use of public transit and alternate modes of travel such as walking and cycling to work, Regional Council approved a comprehensive, three-year plan for employee travel options that include initiatives such as parking management, transit incentives and shuttle services.  And to avoid travel altogether, the plan contains initiatives to encourage working via telecommuting or tele/video-conferencing as well as compressed work week and flexible work hours.
“Bicycling and walking have healthy benefits that positively impact on an individual’s well-being and productivity,” said York Region’s Chief Administrative Officer Michael Garrett.  “Promoting a healthy lifestyle for employees is the right thing to do.”
Phase 1 of the program focuses on implementation for employees located mainly at the Regional Administrative Centre in Newmarket.  Phases 2 and 3 will introduce more aggressive programs and services and expand them to other Regional buildings across York Region.
The principal outcome of these programs will be a reduction in car emissions, a corresponding increase in air quality and the promotion of a healthier lifestyle.
For more information on The Regional Municipality of York, the services we offer and links to our nine area municipalities, please visit our Web site at www.york.ca 
Contact:   Tim Paleczny, Corporate Communications Services, York Region
(905) 830-4444 or (416) 297-9696, ext. 1238
For urgent media queries before and after regular business hours (Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.,) or on weekends and holidays, please page us at: (905) 830-3302.


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