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Metro Vancouver must build safer bike lanes to get more people cycling: new report

Last Updated Feb 28, 2020 at 7:04 pm PDT

Summary

State of Cycling report shows not all bike lanes are considered safe by cyclists

Vancouver leads region in ridership thanks to infrastructure improvements, Hub Cycling says

Women represent growing portion of cyclists but there's a ways to go

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The portion of people in Metro Vancouver getting to and from work by bicycle rose to 2.3 per cent from 1.7 between 2006 and 2016.

The lead researcher of a new report on cycling in the region admits the figure isn’t particularly impressive, despite representing a 65 per cent ridership increase – making biking the fastest-growing transportation mode in Metro Vancouver.

“We’re starting from a very low base and if we continue at this pace – even though it’s a rapid pace – we will not achieve the goals that have been set by Metro Vancouver for 2040,” said Gavin Davidson, project manager of Hub Cycling’s State of Cycling in Metro Vancouver report released Friday.

The regional district wants 15 per cent of all trips under eight kilometres to be made by bike 20 years from now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

To get there, other cities must follow Vancouver’s lead, Davidson said.

The percentage of commuters who cycle in the City of Vancouver jumped by more than two points between 2006 and 2016 (from 3.7 per cent to 6.1 per cent).

Davidson said if other municipalities see that growth rate over the next 10 years, the region will meet its targets.

The best way to achieve that is to make cyclists feel comfortable and safe by improving infrastructure, he added

In Surrey, only 28 per cent of the cycling network is “comfortable for most” riders, compared to Vancouver, where 76 per cent of the network met that designation in the State of Cycling report.

The report also found cycling in Surrey is more dangerous than Vancouver, with 36 collisions for every million trips in the region’s south-east, compared to 20 in Vancouver.

And the ridership numbers match: 0.4 per cent of commuters cycle in Surrey compared to 6.1 per cent in Vancouver.

Surrey has built a lot of new bike lanes in recent years, but they often amount to a line of paint on the side of the road and are unlikely to attract new cyclists, Davidson said.

“The bottom line here is, if you build it and make it comfortable, people will come. And if you build it and make it not comfortable, though, people are less inclined to use their bikes.”

The State of Cycling report also found the proportion of cyclists who are women rose from 27 per cent in 1996 to 35 per cent in 2016.

While it’s good to see that number grow, Davidson said the goal is to see women represent at least half of all cyclists.