Every office has that guy who bikes to work every morning, regardless of weather, and makes us all feel bad about our own life choices. Well, it turns out that not only is that guy getting exercise, fresh air and vitamin D, he’s also saving the planet. You’ve got to be kidding me. A study by McGill University on the impact of bike lanes and infrastructure in Montreal has found that simply adding new cycling facilities can decrease greenhouse gas emissions by the same amount as converting all transit buses to hybrids and commuter trains to run on electricity. This disproves the urban myth that adding bike lanes congests traffic, thereby adding to air pollution.
The results of the study also suggest that the more accessible bike lanes are, the more likely people are to use them. So really, if your city doesn’t have easily accessible cyclist lanes, who can really blame you for not biking to work? That guy is just overzealous; don’t worry about him. The good news is, in the past 10 years, the bike infrastructure in many Canadian cities has improved dramatically and the number of bikers has increased accordingly.
The not-so-good news? Canada barely makes the list when it comes to inner-city cycling. The Copenhagenize index ranks the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world and almost exclusively consists of European cities. We do make the list though with Montreal ranking 20th in 2015. Unfortunately, it’s fallen significantly from it’s 2011 number 8 spot as other cities continue to improve on their bike infrastructure.
Canada is moving along though. Great improvements have been made in the past few years (but not as quickly as one might have hoped). We do have some fairly bike-friendly cities that you should definitely consider taking advantage of. Don’t let that guy be the only one getting the great benefits of a good morning cycle.
Ranking 20th in the world ain’t bad at all. Montreal has a great bike-share system and has had protected bike lanes since the 1980s. It holds the title of most bike-friendly city in North America. Basically, if you live in Montreal, you better be getting out that bike.
After a 2008 biking initiative program that sought to make a safer cycling environment, expand cycling services and facilities as well as increase the number of bicycle trips, the city has greatly improved for cyclists. A 2013-2015 program saw that the installation of separated bike lanes and road reconstruction in 2018 will lead to areas with raised cycling tracks.
Vancouver has an already established ‘bike culture’ with many programs and events that promote cycling in the city. The city has separated bike lanes as well as a number of inner-city streets with reduced car speeds and roundabouts to create a safer environment for cyclists. The city’s also launching a bike-share program in the near future.
T.O. is not known for being the safest of cities to bike in. With the late Rob Ford’s decision that biking was a threat to drivers, the city lacks a history in strong cycling infrastructure. That being said, some areas are more accessible than others with many streets possessing separated cyclist lanes and an active bike-share program in place. Plus, the Waterfront trail is a lovely ride.
The flat terrain of Saskatoon makes for a pretty easy ride around the city. The municipal government is also working on a Comprehensive Cycling Plan to improve bike safety, accessibility and education. The city’s website also has great resources for cyclists including difficulty-rankings for roads, opportunities to give feedback and clear safety information for both cyclists and motorists.