Active & Eco-Friendly Transportation is on the Rise | Onlia

Active & Eco-Friendly Transportation is on the Rise

The auto industry is going green. What does that mean for you?

Alex Kelly
by Alex Kelly
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Welcome back to the Dispatch, Onlia's monthly dive into the intersection of transportation, tech, and everything else you need to know about safety. Hosted by Alex Kelly, Onlia's road safety expert, we're taking a look at how the auto industry is going green, golf cart hijacking, and a new face in Canadian transportation.

Government: Decoded

Sometimes change is a good thing, an idea the federal government is betting on in the midst of a politically challenging period (#pandemicfatigue anyone?). A recent federal cabinet shuffle means that the Minister of Transportation, former astronaut Marc Garneau, was relocated to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Taking his place on the Transportation file is rookie cabinet minister, the Honourable Omar Alghabra. The Mississauga MP slides into the role amidst a global pandemic grounding aviation, upsetting supply chain management, locking down the world's longest land border, all while helping to facilitate a nationwide vaccination campaign. With such a juggling act of priorities, it will be interesting to watch how successful this shuffle is. Deep breaths, Minister Alghabra – you've got this.

A Toronto advocacy group is not impressed with the city's failure to launch a comprehensive bike plan, which falls woefully short of an intended three-year, $16M master plan to construct an average of 34 kilometres of bike infrastructure a year. Instead, the Toronto Community Bikeways Coalition reports an average of only seven constructed kilometres a year since the plan's 2016 implementation, having spent only half the allocated budget. With COVID-related surges in cycling, advocates are calling for action quickly before further injuries and fatalities on the streets.

Newsworthy

Auto manufacturer General Motors (GM) shared their New Year's resolution: a primarily electric fleet by 2035. A bold claim, GM is the first to commit to a green initiative of this scale, but with good reason – the new U.S. government is expected to reprioritize eco-friendly transportation options. Ahead of the electrifying announcement, Canadian GM plants got a boost as well; in the form of a $1B investment in an Ontario vehicle plant to build electric vans. In a time of economic uncertainty, this news is welcomed by the union, and Mother Earth.

We've discussed the first mile-last mile as an option for transit, wherein your commute may consist of various point-to-point transportation options like a train, rideshare, or bike. But when it comes to commercial trucking, investors and innovators are betting on which mile will be profitable first. For Aurora – the autonomous trucking company – the wager is on the middle mile, transporting goods from depot to depot, leaving the first and last miles to other providers. The company has just announced a partnership with legacy manufacturer, Paccar, to test Aurora tech on middle-mile trucking routes, which will feature self-driving trucks transporting goods between depots. For now, the final destination drop-off will still be performed by the pros (us humans).

The pandemic has proven that active transportation is the way of the future, offering a timely trifecta of social distancing, physical activity, and green transport on scooters and bikes. Micromobility company, Lime, is riding this wave, teaming up with corporate benefits provider, Edenred, to provide subsidized e-bike and e-scooter options to clients. Linking into the same card that clients use for health and wellness benefits, employees can grab a ride whenever they want. With over 10,000 companies representing 10 million employees, this deal may solidify micromobility as a viable commuting option.

Transportation Fails

Micromobility continues to be a strong contender for the post-COVID commute. However, the definition of micromobility may need some clarification, as one commuter was recently busted for taking a golf cart on Toronto's busy QEW

Stolen from a local private school, the cart survived a 20-kilometre spree on the highway before being ended in a "low-speed police pursuit" by the Ontario Provincial Police. In an effort to evade police, the driver tried to flee through a mall, only to find he was locked out on account of COVID. The silver lining in the golf cart bandit's joyride? Zero emissions, meaning this was an eco-conscious arrest. 

Down the Road

While winter is still firmly in place, the days are getting longer, signalling spring is inching closer. This presents more opportunities to get outside, whether for commuting or fun. Jonesing for a spring adventure? Read up on how to ride e-scooters and e-bikes in the city, so you're ready to hit the pavement once it’s clear and dry. 
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