It can be one of the most bitterly cold places in the country. But that isn’t deterring cyclists from enjoying Montreal or Quebec City’s considerable charms from the saddle of a bicycle.
A new five-year study from non-profit cycling advocacy group Vélo Québec reveals that cycling is on a serious uptick in La belle province.
More than half of Quebecers are now cyclists, a whopping 4.2-million of them out of a total population of 8.1-million. It’s a trend that has created an additional 600,000 cyclists in the past two-decades, and the organization says it has wide-reaching implications.
“The popularity of cycling continues to grow, with more and more Quebecers embracing it for leisure, transportation and tourism,” said Suzanne Lareau, President and CEO of Vélo Québec. “It is particularly heartening to see that the decline in bicycle use among the younger generation observed between 2000 and 2010 has turned around. The most notable addition to this report is the analysis of the economic benefits of cycling. Annual spending on tourism-related cycling and the purchase of bicycles and gear comes to $1.2 billion.”
Vélo Québec has conducted the study, called Cycling in Quebec, every five years since 1995. This edition, which reflects data from 2015, notes that a supporting factor of the growth is the fact that the network of bikeways in Quebec has grown by nearly a third since 2010, and has now reached 12,000 kilometres. The report estimates that more than half of all cycling trips in Quebec are made on said bike lanes and paths.
The numbers in Quebec top those of Ontario by a considerable margin. A 2013 poll found that only about 600,000 Ontarions cycled daily, that’s from a population of more than $13-million. 68 per cent of those polled, however, said they would like to cycle more often.
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Quebec isn’t the only place in Canada seeing a rise in the use of two-wheeled transportation. A recent Transportation Panel Survey presented to Vancouver City Council early in May revealed that not only does Vancouver have the highest percentage rate of commuters biking to work in Canada, but also that the city could surpass cycling mecca Portland, Oregon for the title of highest bicycle commuting rate in North America.
Commuting by bicycle now constitutes 10 per cent of all trips in Vancouver, at 33,161, while walking and cycling make up 24 per cent each of total commutes, with 41 per cent of trips made by car.
“These new biking records clearly show that the City’s investments in Vancouver’s active transportation network are paying off big – reducing car traffic and making it safer and more affordable for people to get around,” says Mayor Gregor Robertson. “There’s more work to do, and Council will continue working to make Vancouver an even more safe, accessible and vibrant City for residents of all ages and abilities.”