Blog March 10, 2011
Winter Commuting in the City
(Photos L: Becky Lamb, R: Michelle Laporte)
It’s been an amazing first winter here in the valley at Evergreen Brick Works and while we are enjoying the transformation taking place around us, we’ve certainly had our share of exciting cold-weather adventures.
Over the month of February, some intrepid Evergreen staff took part in a Winter Commuter Challenge; facing off to find out who could brave the elements in their travels to and from the office.
Michelle Laporte, our Challenge winner, muses on her own experience and how inspired she was by her fellow competitors:
When my colleagues show up at work with skis or snowshoes in tow it puts a smile on my face and I think to myself, “I work in the coolest place in Toronto!” Here in the Don Valley it doesn’t feel like we’re in a city, but we have to get here somehow and every day we make that decision depending on the weather, time and layers of clothing available.
This first winter has been one of discovery and experimentation, including trying out different ways to get to work. Many have opted towards our free shuttle that runs from Broadview Station while others have organized carpools. To many people’s surprise the bike racks are also quite full of salt-laden and gritty, hard-core winter bikes locked up in rows. Winter commuting cyclists include on- and off-road bikers who ride on Bayview Avenue, Don Valley trail or the Belt Line trails with their underinflated tires. Geared up against the cold with wind-resistant snow pants and heavy-duty gloves and hats.
Walking is also a scenic way to get here, with squirrels, cardinals and red foxes to keep you company. Over a dozen schools in the area have come to explore our winter program in Chimney Court and most start their day at Castle Frank station and hike with our program leaders down through the ravine trails as part of our active learning, place-based education program.
There are also those of us who have taken a more old-fashioned means to work, using snowshoes or cross country skis.
No matter which way they travel, all of these folks share the same motivation: exercise, reduce their carbon footprint, save on parking and gasoline costs or just because they can!
I myself have strapped on my beloved snowshoes in order to get a great workout and commute to work. I feel incredibly re-energized when I arrive! Inspired by snow-dwelling animals, of all the inventions, no other object can be as efficient and simple—if you can walk, you can learn to snowshoe.
In the past, alternate modes of transportation were an instrument of primary necessity. No longer a necessity, it is still the same passion that drives us—that of discovering the beautiful surroundings that winter can offer us and to live adventures in nature right here in Toronto and especially around Evergreen Brick Works.