Winnipeggers don't seem to like cyclists, poll suggests

A new poll suggests there's bad blood on Winnipeg streets between cyclists and nearly everyone else.

'I was surprised at the animosity towards cyclists,' says poll author

A new poll by Probe Research shows significant animosity towards cyclists in Winnipeg. (Michael Fazio/CBC)

A new poll suggests there's bad blood on Winnipeg streets between cyclists and nearly everyone else.

"There seems to be kind of a road war on the go in Winnipeg," said Mary Agnes Welch, lead author of a Probe Research poll done earlier this summer. "I was surprised at the animosity towards cyclists."

Fifty-seven per cent of Winnipeggers surveyed said they think cyclists are inconsiderate to drivers, while 48 per cent found cyclists inconsiderate to pedestrians on roads and sidewalks, according to the online poll. 

While many aren't happy with the behaviour of cyclists on sidewalks and roads, that didn't translate into support for designating dedicated sections of the road for bicycles.

Probe Research found 27 per cent see downtown bike lanes as a low priority, while another 12 per cent of Winnipeggers don't consider creating more bike lanes to be a priority at all.

More than 40 per cent did say bike lanes were a priority, but not top of the list.

"In a way, cyclists just can't win," said Welch, a Probe research associate. 

Cyclists, on the other hand, were split on the question of driver behaviour.

Forty-eight per cent of bike riders said motorists were inconsiderate, while slightly fewer, 42 per cent, felt drivers were considerate of their space.

Last year in Manitoba, cycling injuries landed 119 in the hospital, up slightly from the year before. City of Winnipeg staff are in the midst of reviewing the idea of making helmets mandatory for all cyclists.

The Probe poll found nearly 70 per cent of Winnipeggers support a mandatory bike helmet law despite Bike Winnipeg coming out against the idea saying the policy would discourage cycling. Women wanted helmets mandatory more than men.

"I think this poll does show that cyclists perhaps have to have a little tune up of their own attitudes. Cyclists themselves could probably do something to improve these relationships," said Welch.

A State Farm Insurance survey released Thursday found that more than half of Canadian drivers who participated said they cyclists on the road are "annoying."

Last year, city council approved a $334 million bike and pedestrian strategy that will see an expansion of bike paths in Winnipeg.

Probe Research's poll was conducted between June 30 and July 4 using an online panel. A probabilistic sample of the size used would yield a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 per cent, 19 times out of 20.