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More Locals Carpooling, Census Shows

More people in Windsor and the suburbs are carpooling to work than they did five years ago, according to the 2006 Census.

By The Windsor Star, April 2, 2008

More people in Windsor and the suburbs are carpooling to work than they did five years ago, according to the 2006 Census.

There were 10,505 people — 7.5 per cent of commuters — who were passengers in a car going to and from work, up from 6.5 per centin 2001. Provincially, 8.2 per cent of workers carpool.

Despite the greener commuting trend, Windsor’s car culture still reigns supreme, as 83 per cent of workers drive by themselves to work, a statistic unchanged from five years ago. Provincially, 70 per cent of commuters are lone occupants in their cars.

In a ranking of 270 Canadian cities, Windsor was 24th when it came to highest percentage of workers who commute alone.

“Those numbers are still very high,” said Derek Coronado, spokesman for the Windsor-based Citizens Environment Alliance. “People rely on automobiles to get where they need to go. There aren’t enough options available that are easy to use and widespread.”

Thirty-eight per cent of Windsor metropolitan drivers go less than five kilometres to work, while 32 per cent travel five to 9.9 kilometres and 13 per cent go 10 to 14.9 kilometres. Another 10 per cent commute 15 to 24 kilometres, while seven per cent drive more than 25 kilometres.

Almost twice as many people ride a bike or walk to work than take public transit.

There were 7,775 people, 5.5 per cent of commuters, who walked or rode a bike compared to 4,015, or 2.8 per cent, who took a bus. The number of commuters who take the bus or ride a bike was down marginally from five years ago.

“It probably has a lot to do with people moving to the suburbs and having to get where they have to go by car,” said Tony Chau, who commutes five kilometres by bicycle daily.

“People can’t walk to their local grocery store.”

Coronado said the cost of taking public transit discourages ridership.

“It’s because public transit is chronically underfunded and relies on increasing fees to survive,” Coronado said. “When they offered free transit on smog days, ridership skyrocketed on those days. There is a direct correlation between the cost of a ride and the people who take it.”

Chau said Windsor is a lot more bicycle-friendly than it used to be, but it still has a long way to go.

Chris Schnurr is a former bicycle commuter who bought a bus pass last year because his bikes kept getting stolen.

“I would rather bike because the buses are crowded,” he said. “Having lived in Ottawa, Windsor falls far behind in terms of having dedicated bicycle lanes and drivers being aware of bikes.”

Among the communities in this region, Leamington had the smallest number of workers driving by themselves to work. Seventy-six per cent of workers were solitary commuters, while 12.5 per cent carpool and 10 per cent walk or bike. By comparison, 90 per cent of Lakeshore workers drive by themselves, while 6.5 per cent carpool and 2.3 per cent walk or bike.

Percentage of workers who drive alone to work

Windsor - 79

Essex - 87

Leamington - 76

Lakeshore - 90

Tecumseh - 89

LaSalle - 89

Kingsville - 82

Amherstburg - 89

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