Winter Commute Week: A Great Time to Try a New Mode!

Although the time of year to make New Year’s resolutions has passed, it’s not too late to challenge yourself and try something new!

Smart Commute Markham, Richmond Hill (SCMRH) kicked off 2020 with Winter Commute Week, a new campaign that encouraged Markham and Richmond Hill workplace employees and York Region residents to try a sustainable mode of commuting to work between February 24 and 29. SCMRH promoted the campaign by posting commuter tips on social media and asking commuters to step outside their comfort zone and experience carpooling, taking transit, using active transportation or teleworking during a week of wintry weather!

The SCMRH team also got into the spirit of Winter Commute Week, with each staff member choosing a different mode of commuting to work that best suited their needs and schedule:

” I regularly get bored easily driving alone in traffic, especially in snowy weather conditions, which is why I chose to carpool during Winter Commute Week.” – Calvin

I chose to work from home because I find that I am more focused and save time and money by not commuting to and from the office, especially during wintery weather.” – Wincy

“Luckily I had a meeting scheduled near my home on Friday, so I chose to walk there rather than drive on icy roads. I got exercise, avoided rush hour traffic, and didn’t have to worry about searching for a parking space.” – Sonya

I chose to take transit to work because it is reliable, safe (particularly on snow-covered roads) and it gives me the freedom to use my time wisely.” – Yinan

We also tried a new method of engagement by distributing a fun, informative trivia quiz between February 18 and 29 that tested commuters’ knowledge of winter cycling, finding a carpool match, and accessing mobility hubs using Viva or York Region Transit. Two hundred and eighty one individuals took the quiz, and 85% of respondents pledged to try a sustainable mode of commuting during the campaign.


Among those respondents who pledged, 39.4% left their cars at home and tried a new mode of sustainable commuting during Winter Commute Week.

Most respondents chose to commute by carpool or ridesharing (70.8% in total).

When asked to describe their reason for choosing a sustainable commute during the campaign, we found that many respondents valued time, safety and convenience. Here are some comments we received from commuters:

“I prefer carpooling rather than all other types of sustainable commuting especially since there are a bunch of us that live within the same area and work the same hours.”

“I prefer to work at home but due to my current work I need to come to the office daily and carpool everyday. But then, it is still okay to travel as I save time and money taking [Highway] 407 with my four carpool group members.”

“After trying a new method and carpooling with my husband for a few days, we’ve decided to carpool at least twice a week (Monday and Friday) and then drive separately for the balance of the week when he and I are often on the road for meetings. It was a good reason to give it a shot, thank you!”

“[Taking] public transit to work during the winter is generally safer and actually quicker given all the external conditions.”

“Whenever [bus] drivers oblige to my signal [when transferring between routes], I feel good and grateful. I appreciate this gesture, especially in winter times when I often have to wait for a long time in the cold at uncovered bus stops.”

“During the warmer months I typically commute by bicycle, but in the winter I prefer transit for comfort and safety as roads can be icy.”

“I have started to telework on Monday now and I carpool most days of the week by dropping off a few passengers on my route home. I also telework if there is a snow storm or freezing rain.”

“I prefer to telework during winter for safety and convenience, [and to] lessen my carbon footprint.”

“I prefer to walk or telework during the winter. I live close enough to work that I don’t need to use transit or a car.”

“When properly equipped, winter cycling can be surprisingly enjoyable, safe, and comfortable.

Thanks to everyone who helped make our first Winter Commute Week a success! We’re looking forward to Bike to Work Day on June 1, which will feature two NEW routes in Markham and Richmond Hill. Please subscribe to our newsletter here to receive registration and event information in the upcoming months.