A report released Thursday says Vancouver is heading in the right direction with the densest network of cycling infrastructure, the lowest crash rate, and the highest number of bike rides of any city in Canada.

New bike lanes in the city have caused heated debate between cyclists and local residents in the past, but this report's lead author says investing in cycling infrastructure has paid off.

"There are more streets in Vancouver that have cycling lanes than in any of the other cities and despite being the smallest area, there are also over 100,000 daily trips by bikes in Vancouver, which was higher than any of the other cities in the study," said Nithya Vijayakumar, senior advisor at the Pembina Institute and co-author of the report.

Crunching the numbers

The study looked at cycling data from five cities: Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary and Ottawa.

Vancouver has the lowest number of crashes involving cyclists by far, with less than one crash per 100,000 cycling trips compared to the most dangerous city for cyclists, Montreal. The report says there are seven crashes for every 100,000 cycling trips in that city.

Vancouver also has the most bike shops per capita, with five for every 100,000 residents.


The Burrard Bridge bike lane is the busiest in the city, with 195,000 trips recorded last July according to data from the City of Vancouver. ((CBC))

New bike lanes in recent years have encouraged people to cycle as a mode of transport and not just as a recreational activity, says Vijayakumar.

"There are also over 100,000 daily trips by bikes in Vancouver, which was higher than any of the other cities in the study."

Over four per cent of all trips made in Vancouver are by bicycle, according to the report.

Bike lanes are not all equal

Separated bike lanes can provide protection from cars but Vijayakumar says Vancouver's model actually proves that for quieter routes, that kind of infrastructure is not always necessary.

"I think that one of the most interesting things about the Vancouver network is the majority of their cycling infrastructure is actually just signed routes on residential streets that are shared with cars."

Vijayakumar says this shows that while cycling infrastructure is important, the most expensive option is not always the best option.

"It's all about finding the right fit for the environment."

To listen to the full audio, click the link labelled: Vancouver's cycling infrastructure gets kudos.