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Vancouver tops Canadian cities for cycling to work

A Transportation Panel Survey presented to Vancouver City Council this week shows 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, 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.”

While vehicles still make up the largest portion of work commutes (41 per cent) in Vancouver, a statistic which has remained more or less steady from previous years, the report also finds that the average number of kilometres driven for each trip has declined 27 per cent during the period from 2007 to 2015.

The rise of bicycle travel in Vancouver is in line with the city’s objective to become the greenest city in the world by 2020, as part of its Greenest City Action Plan.
Among the initiatives coming out of that “more work to do” mentioned by Robertson is the introduction this summer of the Vancouver Bike Share system, which will begin with 1,500 bicycles distributed at 150 stations concentrated in downtown Vancouver.

The Vancouver Bike Share service will boast a waterproof control box located on the handlebars of each bicycle, called the Smoove “Brain”, which will allow riders to enter their PIN on a keypad to unlock their bike.

Furthermore, Vancouver Bike Share promises that all riders will have access to a free helmet for each bike, to comply with B.C.’s mandatory cycling helmet law, which seems to have been the primary challenge to the city launching a bike share program earlier.

While vehicles still make up the largest portion of work commutes (41 per cent) in Vancouver, a statistic which has remained more or less steady from previous years, the report also finds that the average number of kilometres driven for each trip has declined 27 per cent during the period from 2007 to 2015.
And a full 26 per cent of Vancouverites now have a membership in a car share service.

The report also suggests that Vancouver’s cyclists are water resistant, and somehow able to cope with the city’s relentlessly depressing rain.

Noting that even though the majority of cyclists are far more likely to ride in fair weather, the report nevertheless claims “it is worthwhile to note that a core group of more than 32,000 cyclists are expected to bike at least 5 times a week in inclement weather.”

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