One of the best ways to increase the number of cyclists is to improve safety. A study conducted in Toronto, Canada indicated that the shift in Sherbourne Street’s bike track from a painted lane to a physically separated cycle path resulted in an increase of 300% in cyclists, as reported by I Bike TO.
According to the survey, 38% of current cyclists didn’t use bikes before the development of the separated bike lane; of those new cyclists, 55% used public transit previously, while 24% switched from driving. Safety and reduction in travel time were the most cited reasons for substituting transport mode. These findings suggest that the city’s infrastructure is crucial to promoting behavioural change.
Copenhagen, where 50% of commuting trips are on bicycles (the highest ratio in the world), demonstrates that integrated policies and actions are necessary to increase bicycle usage. According to The Globe and Mail, the city’s efforts to promote commuting by bike include; the development of safe and separated bike lanes, high taxes on new car purchases and petrol, and a traffic system where bikes have preference over cars.
“The basic tool is to create safe and convenient infrastructure […], where cyclists can go easily and quickly from A to B”, says Marie Kastrup, bicycle program manager for the City of Copenhagen. Therefore, to encourage modal shift and make bike commuting a viable alternative, cities must be willing to address cyclists’ needs, with safety first and foremost.
Photo credit: Bicycle Network