From Brad Cundiff of Environmental Defence
Residents of Kitchener-Waterloo were on the move this weekend at Sustainable Waterloo’s MovingWR event at Kitchener’s City Hall.
The event featured everything from electric cars to an electronic fare box for the new LRT that will shortly begin operating on a 19-kilometre route between the two centres. But most of all, it featured lots of kids learning to fix bike tires, how a hydrogen powered car works, and how to take the bus.
One family explained that they had watched Leonardo DiCaprio’s documentary After the Flood the previous evening and had then been searching for something to do on a sunny Sunday morning. “This came up and it was perfect,” mom enthused. Dad was off taking a test drive in an EV while the kids jumped into a climate quiz game in the City Hall rotunda.
This was a very hands-on event, with K-W residents doing everything from practicing their bicycle hand signals to plotting preferred bike routes (and obstacles) on a map. As one participant noted while tracing a finger across the map “You better be in good shape to tackle that hill.” Others discussed a particularly difficult intersection: “I always walk my bike through there. It’s just too dangerous to ride.” said one.
The “Living Library,” meanwhile, consisted of volunteers from PowerShiftWR who were at the event to talk to visitors about their own experiences in taking the bus or riding to school. “I’m surprised by how nervous people are about taking the bus,” one of the librarians noted. “They are anxious about what bus do I take, where do I get off, so having someone reassure them that it isn’t difficult really helps.”
Outside on the bright front plaza, tire kickers were exploring the features of a wide selection of EVs and the amazing setup inside a mobile bike repair truck. Those a little young for driving also got a chance to sit in an electric powered go-kart.
Among the vehicles available for test drives was a plug-in hybrid owned by Community Auto share. The company’s representative noted that joining an auto share didn’t just mean people could ditch costly car ownership, “it really changes the way they think about getting around.”
And that was really the point of the whole #movingwr event.