• BARRY MATHIAS  is a member of Moving Around Pender (MAP) Alternative Transportation Society and is responsible for creating CAR STOPS – an alternative to Bus Stops.  
  • Barry Mathias was awarded the 2011 Community Stewardship Award by the Islands Trust for the Car Stops Program in October 2011
  • Car Stops featured in Canadian Geographic, New York Times, Independent on Sunday (UK), and CBC Radio


  • In small communities, there is little chance of having a community bus: the economics and the lack of users mitigate against it. The Car Stops project, with the obvious similarity to Bus Stops, is the answer.
  • Car Stops are attractive signs, placed at strategic places around the community, that provide recognized places for people to wait if they require a lift. There is a double-sided sign which proclaims CAR STOP, and below is another sign which reads as follows:

Drivers don’t have to take the first in line;

You’re not obliged to accept a ride, that’s fine.

You accept a ride at your own risk,

But the ride is free, so consider it a gift.

(contributed by Don Harrison,  Member of MAP  Pender Island)

  • The concept of Car Stops is to promote community transportation that is simple, free and safe. The project provides an alternative to single occupancy cars, and results in less traffic congestion at commercial centres, a reduction in the overall carbon footprint and a chance for people to make new friends. The most important idea is that Car Stops are entirely voluntary: people take rides and give lifts as they see fit. There is no coercion on either side, no bureaucracy and no cost.
  • With the help of grants from the CRD and the Lions Club of British Columbia, to buy the signs; the enthusiasm of a group of volunteers from Moving Around Pender (MAP) Alternative Transportation Society to erect them, and community support to use them, this is a winner!
  • Not everyone will embrace this concept overnight; but over a few months, with careful advertising and positive feedback, it could provide the ideal alternative transportation for small communities.

Its time has come!


  • The first 16 Car Stops (Phase 1) were introduced around the Pender Islands in 2008. With the help of the MAP’s annual forum ‘Reinventing the Wheel’, we received detailed community feedback. The response was entirely positive, and other islands, including Mayne, Hornby and Gabriola showed interest. Those who attended the Forum identified the places where they would like to see the next phase of Car Stops, and indicated the Car Stops they have already used. With this information, a further 13 Car Stops were installed in May 2009, making a total of 29 throughout North and South Pender Islands. The first Car Stops program of 16  was approved by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) as a pilot project. The Stops were situated in places that already had safe pullouts. MOTI received numerous letters of support for the project, and have since removed the “Pilot” designation. 
  • The aim is for the majority of the community to be able to travel around the Penders using Car Stops within walking distance of their houses. If this idea is adopted on the rest of the Southern Gulf Islands, and eventually on the Northern Gulf Islands, it will be possible for people to travel between Islands without the need for cars. This will be a welcome relief from the rapidly increasing ferry costs. There is no doubt, that keeping things simple, practical and community-based is the way of the future. If we share our cars and take turns to seek lifts, we can survive in smaller communities, and move from this positive action to other ways of saving money, reducing our carbon footprint and increasing the richness of our lives. If you need help in getting started, or would like to comment on the Car Stops program, please contact me by email at


  • The final phase was to attach to each Car Stop a weatherproof  box containing maps of all the Car Stops around the Islands, with a plasticized map fixed to the front.
  • The use of the Car Stops is increasing all the time and is particularly popular with students, people without cars, boaters, and foot passengers from the ferries. Car owners have been surprised by the convenience of this kind of transportation  once they dare to leave their cars behind.
  • The major successes of Car Stops are the simplicity, the convenience, and flexibility of the system. There is a reduction in the carbon footprint, easier parking at commercial centres, and an increase in community spirit.
  • A number of other Southern Gulf Islands are now actively involved in planning their own Car Stop programs  based on the Pender model. By using the same signs, there is a reduction in the cost, and immediate recognition. Mayne Island now has 26 Car Stops installed September 2009, and Bowen Island has installed six in September 2011. Saturna Island could be next. Gabriola and Hornby Islands have also shown interest. I have received  inquiries from Salt Spring Island and Quadra Island.  The big dream is that Car Stops will eventually exist on all the Southern Gulf Islands, allowing Islanders and visitors to move around these Islands without having to take their own car.


In the early summer of 2011, five rustic, cedar benches were installed at the five busiest Car Stops. Grateful thanks to the Pender Island Lions and the Capital Regional District for their financial support.


In the rain of  May 2013 we installed a further 9 Car Stops, and moved the one on Razor Point Road,  in response to requests from the community. Below are a few of the MAP team. This now completes the Car Stop programme on Pender Island.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s