More than half of the participants who chose to complete a survey on the state of cycling in Kitchener say the biggest barrier to cycling is their preferred route does not have satisfactory infrastructure.
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"The purpose of this survey when we conducted it was more to gain an understanding of people's attitudes and perceptions towards cycling," said Josh Joseph, the city's transportation demand management coordinator.
"What are some things we could do to improve conditions for cyclists? What are some of the barriers out there that we should be tackling?"
The concern over infrastructure is something Joseph says the city is aware of and is working to fix.
"We are working to improve infrastructure and we do have a mandate to install over 100 km of different types of bike lanes in the city," said Joseph.
"We’re tasked with figuring out what type is most appropriate in which area and how can we create the most cohesive network."
The data was collected over the summer of 2013 from 1,020 people who volunteered to share their opinions on cycling in the city. Questions in the online survey covered topics including the purpose of one's commute to barriers to riding more frequently.
The City of Kitchener says it will soon be releasing the full results of the survey, and pairing those results with cyclist ridership counts the city has conducted this summer.
One change the city has made in the last year was the installation of sharrows on King Street West, which are green squares with white arrows painted on the roadway which signal that cyclists can take up the full lane if necessary.
Joseph said the reaction to sharrows was mixed. However, he said the city found an increase in road cycling and a decrease in sidewalk cycling where sharrows have been installed and hopes that trend will continue.
4 out 5 want to see bike infrastructure upgrades
Lack of cycling infrastructure was a common theme cited by the survey. When asked to choose five barriers that discourage participants from cycling from a list of 15 choices, 54 per cent of participants selected a lack of cycling infrastructure like bike lanes or infrastructure, the most common choice.
The second most popular choice was a perceived lack of respect between motorists and cyclists (52 per cent), followed closely by "too much traffic" (51.7 per cent).
Greg Lehman, who rides frequently around the region, says relations between drivers and cyclists could be improved if more drivers took the opportunity to ride a bicycle on the road.
"When you experience what it's like to have a car fly by you with about four or five inches, you really become more aware of how much room [bikes] need," said Lehman.
When asked to choose five improvements that would encourage cycling from a list of 11 choices, 82.1 per cent chose "provide better cycling infrastructure," followed by "more direct cycling routes and connections" (75.2 per cent).
Daniel Allen, a computer programmer at the University of Waterloo, says the infrastructure has improved since he moved to the region 10 years ago, but adds he would like to see more done.
"I'd love to see a network of trails so that you can actually [go] in multiple directions from the Iron Horse Trail without having to bicycle on heavy traffic streets," said Allen.
In terms of who responded, there's a definite type, according to Joseph.
"A lot of people were in the 25-34 range, so that young professional type of demographic. Most people had about 2 bikes per household and the income of different riders was all over the place," said Joseph.
Here are some other results from the survey:
- 22.5 per cent of respondents reported a bike theft within the past five years.
- 11.5 per cent reported being involved in a collision while cycling in the past two years. 4.3 per cent of respondents said they were injured.
- 72.4 per cent of respondents lived less than one kilometre from a bike lane or trail.
- 63.3 per cent said they had convenient and secure bike parking near work or school.