Back in the Saddle

Back in the Saddle

So I finally started riding a bike to work this year at 51. The last time I rode a bike in Toronto was when I was 23 and at U of T for my Masters. We were living around Ossington and Bloor and super broke (as students tend to be) so my then husband suggested we start riding to school to save TTC money. I hated it. Don’t remember why exactly but I think it had to do with a mixture of the terror of being mutilated by a car (there were no bike lanes back then) and getting soaked in the rain and having my makeup run all over my face. Continue reading

TTC VIP CHANGES – and the big picture


image credit: BlogTO

Originally, this was just going to be a quick piece about the changes to the TTC VIP program, but then something bigger happened. So that we’re covered, the TTC VIP program, the crowning jewel in our sustainable transportation crown, with over 2.6 thousand UHN participants, is coming to a close. The TTC has chosen to end this particular bulk purchasing plan in December 2018 (or, um, now).

Before I shake my fist in the air, it turns out the TTC hasn’t so much ended this as switched it to PRESTO. If you are on UHN’s or another workplace VIP program, you may even get a complimentary PRESTO card. This make the whole program a lot easier, and with some sweet savings. This version also requires a 12-month commitment, costs $134 per month and provides the same unlimited travel. More here.

Or skip the commitment, load your PRESTO card with cash and pay individual fares. The upside here is you can use the 2-hour transfer … hop on and off the system within a 2-hour period without being charged another fare.

OK, you talked transit, what’s the bigger picture? 


COP24 is the nickname for the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Image Credit: COP24

COP24 is happening this very minute in Katowice, Poland! Reps from around the world are meeting to talk (and act) on climate change on a global scale (gotta be global since climate change doesn’t really get the whole national or provincial borders thing). You probably remember COP21 in Paris, and the landmark Paris Agreement? All the more relevant now.

Why are you talking about COP24 on a TTC post?

Because the biggest cause of climate change is us humans burning fossil fuels. And the biggest burn source in Ontario comes from transportation. And when people switch from driving gas-burning SOVs (Single Occupancy Vehicles) to cleaner substitutes like public transportation, that’s a major win for our climate, health and future. It’s also a win for Toronto’s soul-crushing congestion problem. 


Is this climate change thing that big a deal?

In 1 word: YES. In a few words, Sir David Attenborough (of “Blue Planet” fame) said it best at COP24: “The collapse of civilisation and the natural world is on the horizon”. In many more words, see below. Grab a coffee (fairtrade, organic, natch) and get comfy…

There’s the Climate Transparency Report which works for “Ambitious climate action through country comparisons”. This really appeals to the competitive side of human nature. I hope it works as (spoiler alert) Canadians generate the most pollution-per-person in the G20 … triple the average GHG emissions for G20 countries. Not a proud moment.

There’s the 2018 Greenhouse Gas Progress Report “Climate Action in Ontario: What’s Next?” by the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO).

There’s the The Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change.

Canada’s Greenhouse Gas Indicators and more on the MOECC site.

And if you look Stateside, they’ve released the National Climate Assessment (even if their leader doesn’t buy it).

Is there a nutshell version?

Livin’ the COG-life (Coal, Oil & Gas, my fancy new acronym) creates the emissions that cause and worsen climate change. When Ontario closed coal plants 5 years ago, that took a big juicy chunk out of our emissions (and out of our smog days, which haven’t happened since). Yay! But we will stall on climate progress unless we look beyond electricity. Transportation is the next big hurdle.

Climate change - 1 page - eco

Image Source: my mashup of graphs from the ECO 2018 Greenhouse Gas Progress Report

After canceling Cap & Trade, Ontario has a new proposed Environment Plan. It looks strangely similar to what they did in Australia (which unfortunately saw more pollution, not less). The comment period is open until January 28, 2019.

OK, this is too big for me to deal!

There’s help out there, especially if you join a Green Team. Or go even further with Carbon Conversations, starting up again in February, with a January taster session! Put the cherry on the sundae and get there with your PRESTO card. 🙂














Cups, Cars, & Co-op


image credit: ux.stackexchange

Hello everyone. Continue reading

Platinum Win! just in time for Carpool Week

BikeRacksElizTGH-JustinJoannaMeganWhen it comes to awards, what’s better than gold? Platinum! Happy to announce that for the first time ever, UHN won the Smart Commute PLATINUM Workplace designation, the highest mark in Metrolinx’s program.

How? By the Continue reading

Baby, it’s cold (and slippery) outside


Continue reading

Oh, it’s on! Smart Commute Week

With school back in session and summer vacations turning into ever-distant memories, that morning commute is starting to look crunchy … almost as crunchy as the evening commute. Luckily there’s this here event called Smart Commute Week (Sept 19-25, 2016) to get us to find a more sustainable way to travel, like walking, cycling, talking public transport, or carpooling all or part of the way to work. It’s almost like we planned it.

Through the Smart Commute network (UHN is a member, check if yours is too), we have access to a whole slew of resources to help us make the switch – including the Smart Commute Tool and the Emergency Ride Home program that makes it easy to get home quickly in the event of an emergency (thus the name).

Take the survey – win prizes! (Smart Commute members only) 


New this year, we’re asking everyone at UHN and any Smart Commute member site to take a short survey – 6 questions. We want to hear from everyone – cyclists, walkers, drivers and more! Everyone who completes the survey will have a chance to win one of two $500 VIA Rail vouchers. Your train of thought can get you on a real live train. Sweet!

Twitter Scavenger Hunt!
You can also join a twitter photo scavenger hunt with daily prizes! Follow @SmartCommuteTO to find out more! Usually it’s a daily “Tweet a photo and tag” situation. (while you’re following, we also like to tweet from @UHNTalkinTrash).



Click the pic to learn more about Smart Commute Week


P.S. More excellent news on the transportation front…

Have a Presto Card? Save 50% off Bike Share!


PRESTO card holders are now eligible to receive 50% off a Bike Share Annual Membership! That’s a $45 savings! Find out more and sign up here.

Little Choices for Little Futures

Being a new Dad has given me a lot to think about, but you probably already knew that. Like in this picture perhaps. I used to just put on a jacket and go outside, now….. I make a hundred decisions before I go out the door. “Stroller or carrier? Is she warm enough, can she breathe, is she still breathing, do we have the diaper bag, are there actually diapers in the diaper bag, how long will we be gone, wait where are we going?”.  Those are my immediate concerns, but what about the future?  What about long term?

What about in 30 years when my daughter is my age?  (insert nervous gulp here)

Kara Month 2 - 7

Will we be Continue reading