media release

Foot commute hits 10 years - and 25,000 kilometres

July 24, 2012

Andrew Rawicz, 778.782.3819;
Marianne Meadahl, PAMR, 778.782.9017;

Andrew Rawicz
Photos on Flickr

It would take more than a mile to walk in Andrew Rawicz’s shoes.

The Simon Fraser University engineering science professor has walked more than 25,000 kilometres – with a full backpack of professorial books and a change of clothes – since he began making the 4.7 km trek to work on foot 10 years ago.

August 10 marks a decade since he hung up his car keys and started a “green” routine of walking from his home in Burnaby and up the mountain to his office at SFU, then back home again. He was 52 at the time.

“I hope to keep at it at least another five years,” says Rawicz, emerging from a rain-soaked trail that leads him up to Burnaby Mountain Park. “It won’t quite be the equivalent of around the world, that’s more like 40,000 km,” he notes, “but it will be close.”

From the trail that has its start at the end of Hastings Street, it’s a climb up over another trail and along the university ring road and onto campus. “I avoid roads as much as I can – there are beautiful trails in the park,” he says.

He clocks it at around 40 minutes. Weather is no deterrent. Even the annual SFU “snow days” don’t stop him. (“I am still more reliable than a car,” he says.) He delights in the variety of climatic challenges and even multitasks along the way, packing a set of small resistance elastics to work his upper body on the easier downhill trek home.

Rawicz made the decision to commute on foot after taking his dog for a walk on a summer day in 2002. The move has improved his health and saved parking and gas costs. His parents never owned a car. “They were not only right - they are still in good shape,” he says.

Rawicz isn’t alone. Engineering science professors Albert Leung and Ash Parameswaran also walks much of the time while computing school director Martin Ester likes to cycle up the hill. “It is a lifestyle change, but once you try it, enjoy the nature and see the benefits, you are hooked,” says Rawicz. “I will never go back to sitting behind a wheel to commute to work.”


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