Archive for the ‘Transportation’ Category

Interview with Julia Szwarc of Free Transit Ottawa

April 2, 2019 Leave a comment

What do you think of Ottawa’s bus system OC Transpo? Is it too expensive? Not convenient or reliable enough? Should it be free?

Julia Szwarc, a member of Free Transit Ottawa, wrote an article in the Leveller Spring 2019 issue called ‘Rethinking Ottawa’s Transit System: a bold proposal for free transit in a city designed for cars’. In my interview with her for Earthgauge Radio, we talk about what’s wrong with our transit system and how to fix it in a way that is better for people and the planet.

Free transit for all! Other cities are doing it, why can’t Ottawa?

Download the interview here.

Categories: Transportation

EG Radio April 25: The Future of Cities | Bike to Work month | Thomas Lovejoy

April 25, 2013 Leave a comment

This week on Earthgauge, we have a veritable green medley with a jam-packed show covering everything from urban sustainability, climate change, biodiversity, biking to work and even the latest green news. I have 4 features today:

  • Presentation by Alex Steffen called The Shareable Future of Cities
  • Alex Smith’s interview with Dr. Thomas Lovejoy on biodiversity and climate change
  • My interview with Jamie Stuckless of EnviroCentre on Bike to Work month in Ottawa
  • This week’s green news from

We also have our usual update on local environmental events and campaigns with Kathy of Ecology Ottawa. This week, Kathy also gives us some great cycling tips as we haul out the bikes after a long winter and welcome the arrival bike season.

Click the audio player above to stream the show or right click here to download.

Part 1 – Alex Steffen

First we’re going to pick up where we left off last week. During our last show, we talked about urban sustainability and the City of Ottawa’s Greenhouse Gas Roundtable. This week we start by hearing a presentation by Alex Steffen called The Shareable Future of Cities. Alex is a self-described Planetary Futurist and you’re going to want  to hear what he has to say about the future of cities in an age of climate change.

Do you ever wonder whether we should be optimistic or pessimistic about the future? If you want more reasons to think things may still turn out for the better, Alex Steffen’s your man. He doesn’t downplay the scope and scale of the problems we face. Instead, he shows that we have the tools within our grasp for meeting those massive challenges, if we have the will to use them.

Steffen is a journalist, founder of and he edited an internationally best-selling book surveying innovative solutions to the planet’s most pressing problems: Worldchanging: A User’s Guide for the 21st Century. His most recent work is Carbon Zero, a book describing cities that create prosperity not climate change, accelerating their economies while reducing their climate emissions to zero.

Part 2 – Thomas Lovejoy

Next we hear from our friend Alex Smith of Radio EcoShock in Vancouver who recently spoke with the father of biodiversity, Thomas Lovejoy. Back in 1980, Dr. Thomas E. Lovejoy introduced the term “biological diversity” to the world. He has advised the United Nations, the World Bank, and 3 past Presidents and he’s a tireless advocate for endangered ecosystems that have no voice of their own. Lovejoy talks to Alex about the impacts of climate change on global biodiversity.

Part 3 – Bike to Work Month

Interview with Jamie Stuckless (right click here to download):


May is Bike to Work month in Ottawa so I speak with  Jamie Stuckless of EnviroCentre. On behalf of the City of Ottawa, the folks at EnviroCentre are organizing this annual event that encourages people to commute by bike and experience all of the health, economic and environmental benefits. Bike to Work month kicks off the spring season by encouraging seasoned riders and beginners to dust off the bikes and leave the car at home. You can even join the prize contest by visiting

Part 4 – Green News

Next we turn it over to our friends Brad Friedman and Desi Doyen of for the week’s listing of green news. On this episode, Brad and Desi discuss the 3rd anniversary of BP’s Oil Disaster in the Gulf; the US Environmental Protection Agency slamming the State Department’s Keystone XL report; and the release of environmental activist Tim de Christopher who was freed on Earth Day.

Part 5 – Bike tips and local environmental events and campaigns

Kathy’s bike tips (right click here to download):


In addition to our usual weekly round-up of environmental events from Ecology Ottawa, this week Kathy also gives us some great biking tips to keep in mind as the spring and summer biking season gets underway.

Earthgauge Radio airs every Thursday morning at 7:00 AM on CKCU 93.1 FM in Ottawa and online around the world at Ottawa’s only radio program dedicated exclusively to environmental news and commentary from Ottawa, across the country and around the world. Podcasts on iTunes and right here on

Interview with John Bennett of the Sierra Club

December 4, 2012 Leave a comment

Click the audio player to hear my interview with John Bennett, Executive Director of the Sierra Club of Canada, about the federal government’s proposed changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act. Bennett explains why so many people and organizations, including the musicians Sarah Harmer, Gord Downie and Feist as well as Ottawa Riverkeeper Meredith Brown and Mountain Equipment Co-op, are speaking out against the government’s proposed changes to Navigable Waters legislation.

Sarah Harmer appeared on Parliament Hill last week to join with those raising concerns about the Harper government’s second omnibus budget legislation C-45, which includes changes that will limit federal protection for waterways to only 62 rivers and 97 lakes. Last week the CEO of Mountain Equipment Co-op, Canada’s largest recreational and outdoor supply company, told a Senate committee studying the changes that many Canadians relate to the outdoors through their recreational use of water. They fear the changes will affect their ability to use lakes and rivers, however small, for outdoor activities. The government says it has chosen to protect only the busiest waterways in Canada that meet specific criteria for navigation. However, Bennett and a growing chorus of vocal critics say the changes will decimate environmental protections for the vast majority of Canadian waterways.

Right click here to download the interview.

Categories: Activism, Conservation, Oceans and fisheries, Podcasts, Politics, Transportation, Water Tags: Bill C-45, John Bennett, , Sierra Club

Earthgauge Radio September 27, 2012: Disappearing Arctic sea ice and Ottawa’s Environment Committee Chair Maria McRae

September 27, 2012 3 comments

On this week’s edition of Earthgauge Radio, we’re talking about the astonishing summer melt of Arctic sea ice and we check in with the Chair of the City of Ottawa Environment Committee. I have 3 interviews on today’s show:

  • Peter Wadhams, professor of Ocean Physics and Head of the Polar Oceans Physics Group at the University of Cambridge in the UK
  • Clive Tesar, Head of Communications for the Global Arctic Programme at the World Wildlife Fund
  • Maria McRae, Ottawa City Councilor and Chair of the Environment Committee

Click the audio player above or right click here to download today’s podcast.

Sea ice in the Arctic has melted to below four-million square kilometres, the lowest it has been for a million years, according to Professor John Yackel from the University of Calgary, who is  a noted sea ice geophysicist and climatologist. “This is the smallest minimum ice extent we’ve ever had, and not just in the satellite record, but probably in the last million years.” Last week marked the end of the summer ice melt and satellite monitoring shows that it has dramatically diminished since 1979, when records began.

So to kick off today’s edition of Earthgauge Radio we talk to Peter Wadhams who is a professor of Ocean Physics at the University of Cambridge in the UK and Clive Tesar, who is Head of Communications for the Global Arctic Programme at the World Wildlife Fund about what all this melting sea ice means for shipping through the Arctic, oil/gas exploration, and what the ramifications of an oil spill or a shipping accident might be in this sensitive and remote part of the world if one were ever to take place.

Later in the program we also check in with Ottawa City Councilor Maria McRae who is Chair of the Environment Committee. She brings us up to speed on the Ottawa River Action Plan, the Emerald Ash Borer beetle infestation, local transportation issues, climate change initiatives and her thoughts on Ottawa as leader in urban sustainability.

Today we also bring back our regular segments with Deutsche Welle Living Planet Radio who will be giving us their International EcoNews weekly update and we check in with Ecology Ottawa who let us know about environmental events and campaigns going on around town.

Earthgauge Radio airs Thursday mornings from 7-8 AM on CKCU 93.1 in Ottawa. News and interviews on environmental stories from across Canada and around the world. Podcasts on iTunes and Stream live on

Categories: Climate breakdown, Earthgauge radio, Global warming, Oceans and fisheries, Oil, Podcasts, Transportation Tags: Clive Tesar, Maria McRae, Peter Wadhams

Earthgauge Radio May 31 2012: Shark conservation and Capital Velo Fest

May 31, 2012 Leave a comment

On Earthgauge Radio this week, we’re taking a look at shark conservation and the Ottawa bike festival called Capital Velo Fest. The award-winning film Sharkwater will be screened this Tuesday, June 5 at 7:00PM at the Mayfair Theatre in Ottawa (a CKCU co-presentation) I have three interviews for you on today’s show:

  • Gabriel Wildgen, a campaigner with Humane Society International
  • Rob Stewart, photographer and director of the film Sharkwater
  • Dick Louch from Capital Velo Fest

Earthgauge Radio is broadcast every other Thursday morning at 7:00-8:00 AM on CKCU 93.1 FM in Ottawa. Click the audio player above to hear the full show. Right click here to download today’s full show. Scroll down to listen to individual interviews only.

Remember that Earthgauge Radio is podcast on iTunes if you type earthgauge into the search bar, you’ll find us. Contact us at . Facebook address is and Twitter handle @earthgaugeCA. Please do get in touch if you have story ideas, a comment on something you’ve heard or want to get involved or contribute to the show.

On today’s show, we also have our usual segment with Ecology Ottawa who update us on local environmental events. And we hear the week’s round-up of intl eco-news from Deutsche Welle Living Planet.

To start off today we talk with Dick Louch about Capital Velo Fest. This is an annual event that was created to inspire people to ride their bike more often. They have a variety of activities happening this weekend, mainly on Saturday.

Dick Louch interview, right click here to download:

Next on the program, we turn our attention to shark conservation. Toronto-born filmmaker and photographer Rob Stewart joined members of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society aboard the Ocean Warrior for a four-month expedition to deter poaching of sharks in Costa Rica and Ecuador and to create a film that would investigate why sharks are being killed at such an alarming rate and what can be done to stop it.

However, a series of life and death situations while making the film, including pirate boat rammings, attempted murder charges, arrests, espionage, corruption and even hospitalization made the making of the film much more complicated than Rob Stewart had ever anticipated. So we have an interview that Stewart did with Bloomberg News to discuss his film, Sharkwater, his passion for saving sharks and their importance to life in the oceans and to life on the planet.

Presenting the film Sharkwater on Tuesday evening, June 5 at 7:00pm at the Mayfair Theatre in Ottawa is Humane Society International and I speak with Gabriel Wildgen, a campaigner with HSI  to talk about the work of his organization and the international campaign underway to ban shark finning. Humane Society International is one of the only international animal protection organizations in the world working to protect all animals—including animals in laboratories, farm animals, companion animals, and wildlife—and our record of achievement demonstrates our dedication and effectiveness.

Gabriel Wildgen interview, right click here to download:

Upcoming local environmental events (courtesy of Ecology Ottawa):

This Saturday is Capital Vélo Fest. Come down to City Hall between 11am and 5pm to check out the Bicycle Rodeo, which will involve free cycling games, products, demonstrations, educational workshops and prizes. Then in the evening, take an exhilarating ride under the stars with the Tour la Nuit: from 5pm to 11pm, streets will be closed off, live music will be playing and hordes of cyclists will be pedaling in the twilight. If you would like to participate, register online at

On Sunday, June 3rd, a guided bird walk will take place from 4pm to 5pm at Mud Lake Conservation Area, near Britannia Bay. This particular region is known for its red-throated loons, so make sure to be on the lookout for these majestic birds. If you wish to join the bird walk, please RSVP to [email protected].

On Monday, June 4th, Ecology Ottawa will be hosting another presentation from its Solar Power
Workshop series, from 7 to 8pm at D Roy Kennedy School on Woodroffe Avenue. Come learn what 40,000 Ontarians have already figured out: how investing in solar power provides a stable, long term financial return. Come learn a step-by-step plan for installing solar power on your home. Don’t have a good rooftop? We will also discuss an opportunity to invest in renewable energy through the Ottawa Renewable Energy Cooperative. Ecology Ottawa will be giving several more of these presentations in the lead up to the Ottawa Solar Fair on June 16th. To learn more about the solar power workshops, or about any other events mentioned here, please visit our website at

Earthgauge Radio May 10: Pedal power! The two-wheeled revolution is coming…

May 10, 2012 Leave a comment

On Earthgauge Radio this week, we’re talking bikes. After all, May is Bike to Work month so I have three cycling-related interviews for you on today’s program:

  • Jess Wells, Program Coordinator at Envirocentre, which is coordinating activities for Ottawa Bike to Work month.
  • Caron Cheng of Mountain Equipment Coop, who tells us about the MEC BikeFest on Sunday, May 13.
  • Seb Oran, co-found of the Ottawa chapter of Bicycles for Humanity. B4H as they’re known is an amazing movement that enables people to raise funds andcollect unwanted bicycles to send to partners in developing countries.

    Biking is a political act… and it’s darn fun

Earthgauge Radio is broadcast every other Thursday morning at 7:00-8:00 AM on CKCU 93.1 FM in Ottawa. Click the audio player above to hear the full show. Right click here to download today’s full show. Scroll down to listen to individual interviews only.

Remember that Earthgauge Radio is podcast on iTunes if you type earthgauge into the search bar, you’ll find us. Contact us at . Facebook address is and Twitter handle @earthgaugeCA. Please do get in touch if you have story ideas, a comment on something you’ve heard or want to get involved or contribute to the show.

On today’s show, we also have our usual segment with Ecology Ottawa who update us on local environmental events. And we hear the week’s round-up of intl eco-news from Deutsche Welle Living Planet.

Did you know?

— A cyclist can travel 1,037km (644 miles) on the energy equivalent of one litre of gasoline.
— A cyclist consumes 1/50th of the oxygen of a car making the same journey.
— A twice daily half-hour commute will, over a year, consume the energy equivalent of 24lbs of fat.
— In 1949, 34 per cent of all mechanized journeys were made by bicycle. Fifty years later that figure had fallen to 2 per cent.

In 2006, Transport Canada reported that, while cycling is a fairly popular form of recreation in Canada, its use for non-recreational purposes in most cities – i.e. as a mode of urban transportation – can at best be described as marginal. The bicycle occupies a distant fourth place after the automobile, public transit, and walking in terms of modes of transportation.

As May is Bike to Work month, it got me thinking about how Ottawa  is doing in terms of promoting cycling and how we can get more people using their bicycles. As mentioned above, only 2% of Canadians use their bike to commute, this despite the obvious benefits of cycling, including…

  • Environmental benefits, through reduced emissions of toxic pollutant and greenhouse gases;
  • Health benefits related to higher levels of physical activity, including improved cardiovascular health and lower risk of obesity;
  • Health benefits related to the reduction of airborne pollutants, including lower incidence of respiratory diseases;
  • Economic benefits, such as reduced household expenditures on transportation, reduced work hours lost in traffic jams, and reduced healthcare costs thanks to the effects of regular exercise and reduced pollution.

So what is stopping us? Is it the cold weather in Ottawa? The long distances? Safety concerns? Or maybe the thought of arriving all sweaty in our work clothes. Whatever it is, we can and surely need to do better. After all, the bike is such a simple and inexpensive way to address a number of urban problems. Is Ottawa a bike friendly city? To find out, I spoke with Jess Wells, the Program Coordinator of the Ottawa EnviroCentre and the organizers of Bike to Work month in Ottawa. EnviroCentre is a non-profit organization that works to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by delivering energy-efficiency goods and services, such as energy audits and weatherization services,primarily in Eastern Ontario.

Jess Wells interview, right click here to download:

Next on today’s biking special program, we hear from Caron Cheng of Mountain Equipment Coop. The annual MEC BikeFest is happening this Sunday, May 13 at LeBreton Flats in Ottawa so Caron kindly came into the CKCU studios recently to let us know some more about this year’s event.

Caron Cheng interview, right click here to download:

Finally on today’s show I speak with Seb Oran of Bicycles for Humanity.  I love to showcase and publicize ideas and initiatives on Earthgauge that are simple yet powerful and can really make a lasting impact for positive change. This is what B4H is all about. This is a  movement of concerned groups started in 2005 with the simple goal of raising funds and collecting unwanted bicycles here in Canada and other countries to send to partners in developing countries where the bikes can be put to good use. Seb Oran is the founder of the Ottawa chapter of B4H.

Seb Oran interview, right click here to download:

Upcoming local environmental events (courtesy of Ecology Ottawa):

This Saturday, May 12, 2012, Fair Trade Ottawa presents its first annual wine-and-cheese fundraiser
to celebrate the bounty of Fair Trade in Canada’s Capital. Tickets $25 in advance, $30 at the door
and Includes one free Fair Trade cocktail! You can buy your tickets at

There will be a Work Bee as part of the the Feast of St. Isidore on Tuesday May 15 th at the Galilee
Centre in Arnprior. Contact Ken Mansefield at [email protected] for more information.

Also on May 15 Ecology Ottawa will be hosting a Volunteer Orientation at 6:30 pm at the Ecology
Ottawa office on Nicholas Street. Come find learn more learn more about what the organization does
and how to get involved. Please RSVP to [email protected] .

On Tuesday May 22, from 5 to 6:30 Just Food will be hosting their first Annual General Meeting.
While Just Food has had a strategic board for eight years, and many open community meetings, the
organization has recently become incorporated as an independent, not-for-profit. This meeting will
allow you to hear in more detail the work that is happening on several projects Just Food is involved
with and take part in discussions of our future plans. Light refreshments will be served and RSVP is

Upcoming local environmental events (courtesy of Ecology Ottawa):

American Scientists Make Great Leap in Battery Technology

March 1, 2012 Leave a comment

The Environmental News Network is reporting today that Envia Systems, a US-based company, has developed a new battery that has roughly twice the energy density of existing rechargeable batteries. Such an innovation could greatly increase the range of electric cars as well as cut the price of the battery packs in half.

“For example, a Nissan LEAF combined with the new Envia battery could potentially travel 300 miles on a single $10 charge, as opposed to its 80 mile range today. This is roughly the same range as many conventional internal combustion engines. It is the equivalent of driving from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh on a single charge.”

Sounds promising but will this breakthrough revolutionize the auto industry, as Envia is suggesting?  Will the price point be competitive with the equivalent conventional vehicles? How long will it take to recharge these batteries? I suppose we’ll be hearing a lot more about this in the near future.

ENN Original news: American Scientists Make Great Leap in Battery Technology.

What can North American cities learn from the fight over public transit in Toronto?

January 20, 2012 Leave a comment

My latest article on the fight for better public transit options in Toronto was just published in the Common Sense Canadian. The ongoing squabble in Canada’s largest city over light rail vs. subways provides other North American cities with a textbook example of how NOT to address urban transportation challenges at the municipal level. It would appear we can all thank Toronto’s mayor Rob Ford for the kind lesson.

Bracing For a Transit Fight in Toronto

Written by Mark Brooks Thursday, 19 January 2012

This week’s humiliating budget defeat for Toronto mayor Rob Ford, which reversed $20 million in proposed spending cuts, has put new wind in the sails of those fighting to see improved transit services in Canada’s largest city.

On his first day in office, Mayor Ford fulfilled a campaign promise by announcing his intention to cancel the Transit City project, a plan proposed by former Mayor David Miller and the Toronto Transit Commission in 2007 that focused on improving service to the city’s woefully underserved suburbs. Among other initiatives, Transit City called for the construction of new rapid light rail lines connecting seven areas of the city, as well as new rapid bus transit lines. Upon cancelling the project in December 2010, Mayor Ford announced that the “war on the car” was over. Claiming that light rail transit (LRT) on roadways is a bad idea, he instead proposed an expansion of the existing Toronto subway system, a plan that would serve fewer residents at a much higher cost.

So just what is this transit dust-up all about and why should anyone outside of Toronto even care?
Read more…

Categories: Activism, Greening our cities, Published articles, Sustainability, Transportation Tags: , Rob Ford, Save Transit City, Sustainability, Toronto, Transit City, transportation

Interviews, photos and video from Nov 6 Keystone XL protest at the White House

November 9, 2011 1 comment

Opposition to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline continues to build

Polar bear travels all the way to DC to protest Keystone XL









I just returned from Washington DC where I was covering an action to pressure President Obama to deny the permit required for TransCanada to construct Keystone XL, a massive, 2700 km pipeline that would transport tar sands crude from northern Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico.

The event was very well-attended, exceeding the expectations of event organizers, Tar Sands Action. Organizers had hoped to encircle the White House with at least 4000 protesters but estimates placed the crowd at somewhere between 10,000-12,000.

In attendance were folks from as far away as Florida, Ohio, California and, for course, Canada. I traveled down from Ottawa on a bus packed with about 50 enthusiastic students from Paul Smiths College in the Adirondacks of upstate New York. 20 hours on a bus over a 48-hour period (including one overnight) is not usually my idea of a good time, but it was well worth the trip.

Below you will find interviews and video from the rally. Highlights included Naomi Klein’s rousing call to arms and her Canadian perspective on both Keystone XL as well as the equally outrageous, proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline to the west coast of B.C. (see video below). Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians gave me a remarkably upbeat assessment of the prospects of stopping Keystone XL in its tracks. Having the chance to speak with leading climatologist and NASA scientist, James Hansen, was also a rare opportunity. In his speech (see video below), Dr. Hansen advocated putting a price on carbon emissions by taxing fossil fuel companies and distributing 100% of the proceeds to the public through a monthly dividend. He also said that one of the most important things people can do is to support the organization Citizens Climate Lobby.

Perhaps most memorable, however, were the many conversations I had with everyday folks from all over North America, from farmers in Nebraska to college kids who helped get Obama elected in ’08 to seniors who were afraid for the future of their grandchildren. People are rightly pissed about this proposed pipeline and many have said they will do “whatever it takes” to stop it. Whatever it takes.

Increasing our dependence on unconventional, dirty oil is not the kind of legacy we should be leaving for future generations. Yes, we need oil for now – nobody denies it. But according to James Hansen, the planet’s most important climate scientist, who was arrested at the White House back in late August/early September – opening up the tar sands to heavy exploitation would mean “it’s essentially game over” for the climate. Building Keystone XL – which Bill McKibben described as “a 1,700-mile fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the continent” – will only only ensure that our oil dependence will continue long into the future, our greenhouse gas emissions will continue to increase and long overdue investments in clean energy technologies will be further delayed.

You may also be interested to hear the comments of Bill McKibben who appeared on Democracy Now the day after the White House action. The battle continues…

Elly Blue: The economic case for on-street bike parking

April 19, 2011 Leave a comment

The economic case for on-street bike parking | Bikenomics | Grist.

Behold the virtues of adding more parking spaces for bikes (rather than cars) in downtown cores. It not only helps to reduce car usage (and therefore pollution), it makes good economic sense. Why don’t we give bikes a higher priority than cars when (re)imagining our cities?

Categories: Greening our cities, Transportation Tags: Bike parking
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