Pender Island Residents Give Thumbs Up to Hitching a Ride

A recent ELC report may help residents of North and South Pender Island create a new way to get from A to B.With a population of 2,400 that triples in the summer, Pender Island is experiencing increased traffic demands and congestion on its limited road system, which concerns many residents. Although the community is growing, it is not able to support a bus system, such as the one recently established on neighbouring Salt Spring Island. In response, local citizens group Paths on Pender (PoP) asked the ELC for assistance in exploring alternative approaches to transportation. In particular, they wanted to know about how they could set up Car Stops—a series of clearly identifiable spots at strategic locations along the road network where vehicles could safely pull over to pick up individuals waiting for rides. ELC student Shannon Gibson prepared the report “Casual Carpooling: A Background Guide.” The 40-page guide focuses on legal and administrative issues involved in establishing a car stop system; investigates carpooling systems in other communities; and offers recommendations. Gibson says, “Ensuring that drivers have adequate insurance coverage will be critical to the program…participants must be clearly informed that there is to be no exchange of money through the program.” Similar systems have been adopted in a number of large American cities, most notably in Washington, DC where the idea originated. They are generally referred to as “casual carpooling,” “dynamic ridesharing” or “slugging.” Closer to home, the Town of Qualicum Beach is implementing the Good Samaritan Ride (SAM) Program, which they identify as “an alternate form of transportation within the community using volunteer drivers and riders.” Barry Mathias, the PoP member who came up with the Car Stops concept, was pleased with the ELC report. “Paths on Pender had concerns over liability issues,” says Mathias. “Shannon explored these issues on our behalf and presented us with a very clear and helpful summary of her research. We are very grateful to her and to the University for allowing her to help us.” PoP believes a Car Stop system could help to reduce the number of single occupancy vehicles as well as reduce car parking problems at key locations on the Island, such as the ferry terminal and the main shopping area. They are now working to establish a pilot project with about a dozen stops around North and Sound Pender Islands. Their hope is to eventually have about 36 stops.

Link to the ELC Report:Casual Carpooling: A Background Guide