City bike infrastructure really does encourage cycling: SFU study

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Maybe all of Vancouver’s bike lanes are actually doing something good for the city.

A new SFU study suggests bikes lanes really do encourage people to cycle more. Researchers studied 24 cities across Canada and found the ones with higher “bike scores” – like Vancouver – saw more people utilizing the bike infrastructure available to them.

Image: City of Vancouver / Vancity Buzz photo

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A bike score rates how good a city is for cycling on a scale from 0 to 100 and is based on three factors: bikes lanes, hills, destinations and road connectivity. Cities with higher overall scores saw more people cycling to work.

“Across all cities, including in Vancouver, we found there is higher cycling where there is more and higher quality cycling routes, fewer hills, and more destinations and amenities,” says SFU professor Meghan Winters, who helped develop the bike score. “Municipalities may not be able to change topography, but this work demonstrates cycling routes support more active travel. In particular, Bike Score may be useful as an indicator for city planners.”

The study found with every 10 point increase on the bike score, 0.5% more people cycled to work. That might seem like a small number, but the study notes it’s a significant increase for North American cities where cycling prevalence is low.

Vancouver, however, saw an even higher prevalence of cyclists. A 10 point increase in bike scores in each neighbourhood saw 0.8% more people cycling to work.

“This study confirms and quantifies what we’re seeing anecdotally in Vancouver and other cities regarding people’s cycling behaviour,” adds Winters.

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Lauren Sundstrom Lauren is a Staff Writer and Projects Assistant at Vancity Buzz. She is a graduate of BCIT's Broadcast and Online Journalism program. She loves reporting on breaking news and lifestyle content. If you feel like you have a story that needs to be told, fire her a tweet.

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