Our neighbors to the north do a lot of things right (hello, poutine). Another one of those things? Biking as transportation.
Over the past two decades, Canadians have doubled the number of commuters biking or walking to work, with 6.9 percent of workers using active transportation in 2016. A new study from McGill University sought to find out why.
Researchers Marie-Ève Assunçao-Denis and Ray Tomalty interviewed 72 elected officials, planners, advocates, and other cycling experts in 10 towns and cities across the country to get a sense of what changed. The consensus was that the most important factor that increased biking was changing demographics, culture, and economics.
Interviewees thought that younger and wealthier people moving into dense cities and towns changed the perception of biking, with many people “no longer associating cycling with children or low-income populations,” according to the researchers.
Bicycle infrastructure was not considered one of the most important factors in the increased number of cyclists. However, most interviewees acknowledged that when cities designate protected road space for people biking, it helps legitimize biking as a mode of transportation. “When people travel in Montreal, they see and bike paths everywhere, and it has an impact,” according to one interviewee.
Obviously, biking shouldn’t be a transportation mode for just the young and wealthy. Everybody deserves to have biking as an option. So what does this mean for policymakers?
Photo of a woman biking in Montreal by Dylan Passmore on Flickr’s Creative Commons