The number of Hamiltonians using bicycles to get around the city is increasing by leaps and bounds, and it’s only going to get larger, local advocates say.

The number of cyclists in Hamilton increased 63 per cent from 2001 to 2006, said Sharon Gibbons, member of the city’s cycling committee.

And while the city is still waiting on the most recent numbers via the University of Toronto's Transportation Tomorrow Survey, Gibbons believes the recent number will be even larger.

“I would say it’s even more from 2006 to 2011,” said Gibbons, who regularly counts the number of cyclists on Stone Church Road. “You just see more cyclists on the road. You see more interest.”

Gibbons and member Jordan Fysh presented these stats to the city’s public works committee on Monday. The increase has corresponded with more tax dollars and energy invested in making the city bicycle friendly.

Among those efforts:

  • Making 70 more kilometres of bicycle lanes from 2008 to 2013.
  • Creating 11 more kilometres of major trails.
  • Paving four more kilometres of roadside shoulders.

Ward 1 has seen the largest increase in bicycle usage in the last decade, followed by Wards 2, 3, and 4, which are all in the lower city. It has decreased in Ward 6 on the Mountain.

The committee also launched a pro-cycling campaign called Share the Road. It includes 10 bus ads, stickers, flyers and car magnets. 

City council has made a handful of cycling-friendly decisions of late. Among them is a pilot project that will turn one lane on Cannon Street into a two-way bicycle lane. City staff are preparing a report on the details.

Hamilton resident Dave Heidebrecht is also surveying local cyclists on what he says is a shortage of bicycle parking. The move was in response to a recent consultant report that showed the need for hundreds of more car parking spaces downtown.

When staff can show that cycling is measurably increasing, local politicians are more willing to devote tax dollars to cycling projects, said Daryl Bender, project manager of alternative transportation.

"It justifies the money being spent," he said.

Cycling across Ontario has also increased. More than 600,000 people cycle per day, show figures from the Share the Road Coalition, a provincial cycling and advocacy group. About 5.1 per cent of Ontarians said this year that they bicycle daily or almost daily, up from 4 per cent the year before. Sixty-eight per cent would like to cycle more often, up from 58 per cent the year before.