BC Commuter Challenge Results

Over the past few months I have volunteered some of my personal time to work with Stephanie, Masami and Beth from Better Environmentally Sound Transportation (BEST) to explore and evaluate the spatial dimensions of the data that were collected by registered participants in the 2013 BC Commuter Challenge.

I began this project by geocoding the postal code location for each trip origin and destination (home and work locations) and then displaying the straight-line connections thematically based on each participants' stated regular method of commuting. These results are shown below, both overall and broken down by regular commuting mode:

I then filtered the results to include only walking, cycling and transit trips for participants who indicated their regular method of commuting to be 'drive alone'. I selected this subset of users (541 out of over 3,500 within my study area) to focus my analysis on the trips that represent a significant behaviour change.

Drivers Who Switched to Walking

Drivers Who Switched to Cycling

Drivers Who Switched to Transit

One of the most interesting findings from this exercise is the average trip length for each commuting mode shown in the legend of each map. The average trip length for walking, cycling and transit trips were 4.1, 19.4 and 30.4 km respectively, which are somewhat longer than expected. Therefore, I believe this analysis provides an important evidence-base to guide policies and programs dedicated to reducing single-occupancy vehicle trips and increasing sustainable mode share for commuters.

I should also note that there are some unusually long walking trips included in the first map; however, the distance calculations above are based on the user's own distance input into the challenge website, not the straight-line distance visualized on the map. These erroneous trips are most likely due to people reporting a home postal code but travelling from a more local origin on one particular day.

Overall, this assessment also underscores the importance of the BEST Sustainable Commuter Challenge for two reasons:
  1. In addition to recognizing and rewarding the behaviour of regular sustainable commuters, the challenge encourages a significant number of people to change their regular commuting behaviour. 
  2. Although this study evaluates only a small sample of data within Metro Vancouver area, the data collected by the challenge could provide a national framework for conducting spatial analysis on transportation patterns in virtually all major cities in Canada.