What are the environmental benefits of walking and cycling?

When you choose to walk or cycle instead of driving, you help to reduce pollution in the environment.

Active transportation, such as walking, cycling, in-line skating or skateboarding, is a great way to reduce greenhouse gases. These gasses harm our environment as they contribute to climate change.

According to iCANwalk's Canadian Vehicle Survey:

  • The average car emits 4 tonnes of carbon dioxide in a year.
  • Vehicles contribute to about 30% of total greenhouse gas emissions in Canada.

We would save about 3.8 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year if every Canadian left their car at home just one day a week. This is the equivalent of taking about 800,000 cars off the road.

In addition, motor vehicles are a major source of smog, which is a mixture of air pollutants including vapours, gases and particles. Smog sometimes looks like yellowish-brown haze in the air but sometimes you cannot see it. Polluted air particles can irritate your breathing, become trapped in your lungs and cause various health problems.

Active transportation does not require fuel and does not cause air pollution. It also frees up more space on the roads, making your neighbourhoods more pleasant.

If active transportation is not an option for you, choose public transit if possible, as one fully-loaded bus can replace about 50 cars.

If you have to use motor vehicles for transportation, you must take part in Ontario's Drive Clean program, a mandatory vehicle emissions inspection and maintenance program. The following tips can also help you save money, prolong your vehicle's life and help protect the air we breathe:

  • Carpool - You can share the fuel and parking costs with the people in your carpool.
  • Tune-up regularly - Checking your vehicle's emission system and keeping the tires properly inflated can help save fuel.
  • Turn off your engine when you are not driving - 10 seconds of waiting with your car on while parked uses more fuel and pollutes more than restarting your engine.
  • Be fuel efficient - Accelerating smoothly and maintaining a steady speed can also help lower fuel use. Also, when buying a vehicle, choose one with lower emissions and that uses cleaner fuel, such as an ethanol blend or electricity.

For More Information

  • Clean Air Commute - An annual friendly competition among workplaces to encourage individuals to leave their car at home and choose transportation means that are environmentally friendly.
  • Smart Commute - An online portal to help commuters explore transportation options that are better for the environment and our health. You can find carpooling options all over the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, and use the Carpool Savings Calculator to see how much you can save bycarpooling. From Metrolinx.
  • How Walkable is Your Community? - Use this checklist to find out how walkable your community is and how you can help to make walking in your community safe and more enjoyable. From Green Communities Canada.
Last updated: August 26, 2015 4001576