Calgary Commuter Challenge

First implemented in 1991, the Calgary Commuter Challenge was designed to encourage commuters to explore alternative transportation options as part of National Environment Week. In addition to getting as many employers (and their commuting employees) to participate as possible, challenge organizers also sought to reward individuals who already used public transit regularly, providing their efforts with greater visibility. Initially, corporations asked to participate were those that had already earned outstanding reputations for environmental consciousness and employee health as their participation often triggered other organizations to follow suit. Internal contacts at each corporation were established and later provided with promotional materials that they would be responsible for sharing with employees. Promotional materials encouraged any mode of transportation that did not involve driving alone in a car and highlighted a variety of benefits from lowering emissions to saving money. In addition to workplace promotions, the challenge was also advertised via local radio stations and the City’s main daily newspaper, which printed daily challenge results. Organizations that participated in the challenge were divided into three categories based on company size to make the competition fair. Trophies were awarded to the companies in each category with the highest percentage of participants and additional prizes were distributed at random to participating employees. Each company was charged with tracking their own results, which often consisted of a tally sheet placed on an easel in a prominent location that people could mark with their mode of transport upon arriving at the office. Several years after the Challenge began, a participating software company developed an e-mail-based data collection program for challenge participants to utilize. Over the span of a decade the Calgary Commuter Challenge reached more than 20,000 employees and inspired some participating organizations to make policy and infrastructure changes that supported alternative commuting styles.

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