The Commuter Challenge 2017 – Hospital Staff Encourage You to Try A New Way to Commute


Are you up for the challenge? The Commuter Challenge, taking place June 4-10, is a week-long competition between Canadian workplaces, encouraging staff to explore the different modes of commuting. For more information about the styles of commuting and to register for the Commuter Challenge, visit:

By Sarah Chadwick - May 27, 2017

The Commuter Challenge encourages Canadians to leave their vehicles at home and explore a different means of commuting. Trying a new mode of getting to and from work, other than driving alone, provides individuals with a sustainable transportation alternative that reduces air pollution. Actively commuting can increase cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength and endurance, and can reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or cancer.

This year, the Commuter Challenge is taking place the week of June 4th to 10th, and the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre has identified Commuter Champions that highlight the most common alternate commuting modes.


Carpooling happens when people drive together – a driver and at least one other person who could otherwise be driving separately. Dave Gladun (Northern Supply Chain) and Melanie Cates (Professional Practice) are married and have been carpooling for 3 years. “Why wouldn’t we carpool? It’s convenient because we work the same schedule, not to mention we save money and help to reduce the daily carbon emissions.” explained Dave.


Walking is the easiest and most popular form of physical activity. Liz Harms and Katrina Sutton (Informatics) walk regularly to and from work. Harms has been actively commuting 6 kilometers for 10 years. “I like it because I get more exercise. It’s also great for my mental health! If I have a stressful day or if sit for too long, I feel so much better after my walk home,” explained Harms.  Sutton has been walking 3 kilometers to and from work for 3 years. “I live so close to work that it’s really convenient for me to walk - I have no excuse not to. Plus having extra time in nature in the morning clears my head and really sets my day,” she said.


Leanne Mercer (Genetics Program) and Philip Boutotte (Northern Supply Chain) enjoy biking to work. Leanne has been commuting 5 kilometers each way for 3 years. “It was the Commuter Challenge that actually got me motivated and organized to start and continue biking to work,” said Mercer. “There is really no disadvantage to biking – you get exercise, you reduce your carbon footprint, and you get to save money on things like gas, parking, and gym memberships.” Boutotte bikes a 10 kilometer round trip to get to and from work. “We actually sold our second vehicle and I bought and assembled my own bike,” he explained. “I don’t have time to exercise in the evening so incorporating physical activity into my workday is the goal.”

Inline Skating:

Cristina Riccio (Prevention and Screening Services) inline skates to work. Riccio began this form of transportation 3 years ago, and travels 5 kilometers each way. “I started simply because I love inline skating” she said. “The new pathways surrounding the hospital make it easier and safer, which is awesome for commuters!”


Teresa Brown (Nutrition and Food Services) has been a regular city transit user for a long time. “I have been transiting to and from work for 25 years now,” explained Brown. “I have never driven so it’s my main mode of transportation. I really think everyone should do it!” Fun fact about an added benefit to using city transit as a mode of commuting - on average, one bus replaces 45 vehicles, which reduces air pollution and road traffic drastically!

Last year, 62 workplaces in Thunder Bay participated in the Commuter Challenge. After one week of commuting participants travelled 27,487 kilometers, avoided 4,580 kilograms of CO2, saved 1,677 litres of fuel, and burned 47, 3050 calories. This year, the goal is to keep the momentum and to recruit more first-time participants to take part in the challenge

Join our Hospital’s 2017 Commuter Champions June 4-10, and take the challenge to switch up your mode of transportation. For more information about this year’s Commuter Challenge, or to register yourself and your workplace, visit:

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