• Erin Binnie

Government of Canada Announces Commitment to Active Transportation

Getting from A to B with zero emissions.

In March the Government of Canada announced the first federal fund of $400 million over five years dedicated to Active Transportation. The team at VOOMcart was excited about this announcement because we believe that city life is best experienced on foot and/or bike – and both are great examples of active transportation!


Any human-powered method of transportation that moves people from A to B falls into this category. With this funding announcement, the Government of Canada is recognizing the important role Active Transportation plays in our daily lives and the greater role it should play in the functioning of our cities. Spending to create infrastructure that makes citizens feel safer while self-propelling through cities will ultimately result in happier, healthier and more engaged communities.


There is a common misconception that active transportation advocates are anti-car. This is simply not true. By 2050, two thirds of the world's population will live in urban areas. In basic terms - there is just not enough space for cars to be the predominant people movers. Think of the millions of people who do not own or drive a car, or the teenagers and kids that have to travel to school throughout the city. We need to find a way forward that includes sharing space designed for commuting and we need to make it safe for everyone.


Although the overlap is obvious, there is a distinction between physical activity and active transportation. Going for a walk, jog, or cycle for exercise is different than using human power to get where you need to go.


Unprecedented changes to our daily lives brought on by the pandemic has clearly demonstrated the important role and effect that active transportation can have in our cities. Because people were avoiding public transit, they were presented a unique opportunity to rediscover the joy of active transportation.


Rapid response efforts in cities created temporary bike lanes with painted lines and barriers like flower boxes that connected main city arteries. These safter, expanded networks inspired people who didin’t previously feel safe, to dust off their bikes, and roll into the lanes to get where they needed to go. For the first time, my 14-year-old son could safely bike to his school in Toronto, across Bloor St, traversing Yonge, Spadina and Bathurst!


Across the world, the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, is a trailblazer of this movement, transforming one of the most beautiful cities in the world with infrastructure that supports Active Transportation.


During the first lockdown of April last year, Mayor Hidalgo quickly sanctioned the creation of 650 kilometers of pop-up cycleways. Used widely by essential workers, the network of safe bike lanes was quickly billed as “coronapiste”; a contraction of “coronavirus” and “cycleway”. And here's a little news nugget - this is officially a new word!

"Coronapiste'' will appear in the new edition of the French-language encyclopedic dictionary when it is released on May 19th!



There’s no disputing that there are more people out there walking.


Working from home has cut down on everyday commute times for many people. With more time to spare in their neighborhoods, walking has become a bigger part of everyday lives as people break up their days, stretching their legs and getting fresh air. This increased community activity has led to a #shoplocal movement, and it's also a great new way to socialize with friends and family!


One thing we set out to solve with VOOMcart was trying to create an easier way for walking to be ‘utilitarian”. Walking to exercise and/or to socialize is an easy and rewarding activity, but our team often still asks, “How can we remove the pain-point of running errands on foot?”


We wanted to transform walking into an effective form of transportation by essentially replacing the car trunk. Why can’t you kill two birds with one stone? Get stuff done and get your steps in! The marketplace was void of something we wanted to use. Pulling a load behind you or breaking your back to pack a vacuous bag on wheels was not going to accomplish this!


That’s why we created VOOMcart – the ultimate personal shopping cart. Our hope was that more people wanted to fit utilitarian walking into their days, but wanted a better way.


Our mission has been validated by customer feedback from VOOMcart’s early adopters. And our team is proud to have achieved our goal of filling a void by empowering more people to walk their shop.


While the news that the Federal Government has recognized the need for action is extremely encouraging, we cannot let the strides forward lose momentum. As adults, we have been able to experience a new level of outdoor physical activity similar to what we experienced as kids. And our kids have been able to take to the streets like we did decades ago.


Building back better after the pandemic means keeping the good stuff as we return to normal, and Active Transportation should be front and center.


Here in Toronto, we have many advocates to thank for pushing Active Transportation onto the desks of our decision makers. Cycle Toronto is working hard to prevent the removal of the ActiveTO bike lanes installed to help create safe commute routes for bikers during the pandemic. If you are a rider, walker, or have someone you know or love in Toronto who is - please consider signing their petition!


Here are our Top 10 Reasons why Active Transportation Rocks:

  1. It’s good for the body - get your steps in and hit your cardio goals while getting where you need to go.

  2. It closes the last mile - often transit and even our cars leave us struggling the 'last mile’ to our doors.

  3. It’s good for the soul - physical activity releases endorphins - which naturally makes us happy.

  4. It’s good for the mind - walking and physical activity is known to reduce the onset of Alzheimer’s, and walking can relieve anxiety and stress.

  5. It encourages connectivity - when you are self-propelling through your neighborhood and city, many opportunities exist to connect in meaningful ways to the people and environment.

  6. The #shoplocal movement is in full force!

  7. Active Transportation equals zero emissions.

  8. Active Transportation saves you money - no parking and no gas pumps.

  9. Active Transportation saves you time - you don't have to find parking, get stuck in traffic, wait for a delivery or a connecting bus.

  10. It reduces road congestion - if we make it safe for more people to walk and roll, then the roadways are freed up for the people who need to use them.

Let's push forward and walk and roll!