Windsor cyclists not riding to work, despite the rise elsewhere in Canada

According to the Statistics Canada census released last week, more and more Canadians are using their bicycles to get to work. But while the trend has caught on elsewhere, it's pretty much stagnant in Windsor.

Only 1 per cent of Windsorites commute to work, according to Statistics Canada

Lori Newton is the executive director of Bike Windsor Essex, an advocacy group. (Derek Spalding/CBC)

According to the Statistics Canada census released last week, more and more Canadians are using their bicycles to get to work. But while the trend has caught on elsewhere, it's pretty much stagnant in Windsor.

Among similar-sized census metropolitan areas across the country, Windsor has the lowest proportion of commuters using sustainable transportation, which includes cycling.

"We shouldn't be at the bottom. We are the most southern city in Canada… we need to move that," Lori Newton, Executive Director of Bike Windsor Essex told CBC's Windsor Morning

Newton was in Toronto Monday, as Ontario announced it's investing $93 million over the next four years to improve the province's cycling infrastructure — nearly double the amount that was initially promised. 

The total amount coming to Windsor-Essex — including the city, county and six towns — is $2,963,460.
Chatham-Kent is getting $755,203 and Sarnia $590,081.

Victoria, B.C. is the top cycling city in the country, where 6.6 per cent of the working population rides back-and-forth. In Windsor it's one per cent.

"What we've learned consistently is that people are not riding their bicycles because they feel unsafe on the roads," said Newton, adding that the group regularly surveys people in the area. "That combined with the lack of connectivity on our bike lanes — that people get to the end of the bike lane and can't move on."

Hear more from Windsor Morning's talk with Lori Newton

Bills: Over the past twenty years the number of Canadians who ride their bicycles back and forth to work has risen by 60%. Phenomenal growth, but we aren't seeing that sort of thing in Windsor. Why? We'll ask Lori Newton from Bike Windsor Essex. 10:01

Bike Windsor-Essex held four community rides in different neighbourhoods to see just how connected the trails and bike lanes in Windsor are. They also looked at safety issues. 

"We stopped and we talked about what the infrastructure looked like and people are confused," said Newton. "It is something that the city has said it is working on and we're hoping we might get some dollars down here from the province for connecting to help our commuter cycling numbers rise."

Over the past twenty years, bicycle commuting to work increased by nearly 88 per cent.

Newton said that Bike Windsor Essex is trying to find out what would make people who don't cycle, get out and ride.

"We are heavily reliant on our cars and I think that we don't do enough to look at and improve active transportation for our children," she said.