Clean air champion Martel inspires York commuters

On Sept. 22, over 100 members of the York University community attended Smart Commute – Black Creek’s fourth annual free Bike Lunch and Car Free Day celebrations.

Left: Ironman triathlete, amputee and clean air champion Marc Martel

They heard professional Ironman triathlete, amputee and clean air champion Marc Martel discuss his training and motivation as one of very few disabled competitors in the Ironman Triathalon. His message also included the need to make choices in our lives that will benefit our entire community. Specifically, Martel spoke passionately about how making the choice to take public transit, carpool or cycle can make a big difference in improving air quality – not to mention the money saving advantages of alternative transportation.

Visitors who brought their bicycles to the event were treated to free bicycle tune-ups by the BikeMobile. The Great Canadian Bagel donated bagels for lunch.

The event was part of the 2004 Car Free Day organized by the City of Toronto and municipalities in the Greater Toronto Area in conjunction with International Car Free Day.

Right: Visitors to York’s Car Free Day celebrations were able to take advantage of free bike tune-ups

An annual event celebrated by 100 million people on every continent and supported by the European Union, the United Nations, the Government of Canada and the leaders of 1500 cities around the world, International Car Free Day was organized to highlight the problems of private automobile use and air pollution.

Car Free Day was first celebrated in Canada on Sept. 22, 2001, when Toronto became the first North American city to officially host it. It was spurred by three studies released by organizations at the municipal, provincial and federal levels, that highlighted the extent of health problems resulting from air pollution.

The City of Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health reported in a study in 2000 that 1,000 residents a year in Toronto would die prematurely due to the effects of air pollution. This was followed by the Ontario Medical Association study that revealed that 1,900 residents in Ontario would die yearly from air pollution related illnesses. Finally, the auditor-general stated in 2000 that 5,500 people in the largest 11 urban areas in Canada would die from effects of air pollution.

For more information about cycling to York and on the Keele campus, contact or ext. 70690.

York University provides a safe and secure bike cage in the Arboretum Parking Garage and Student Services Parking Garage. For further information, please contact Nicole Arsenault at ext. 55866 or

Smart Commute – Black Creek, formed in 2001, is a not-for-profit organization made up of members and partners, including local employers, government bodies, transit agencies, property managers, and other business and community groups. York University is a co-founder and partner of SC-BC.

This article was submitted to YFile by the Smart Commute-Black Creek Association.