Want to make life more af­ford­able? Bikes can do that!

Em­brac­ing cy­cling as an ev­ery­day thing can be trans­for­ma­tional

The Peterborough Examiner - - ARTS & LIFE - Lindsay Stroud is GreenUP’s man­ager of trans­porta­tion and ur­ban de­sign pro­grams. Learn more at greenup.on.ca. LINDSAY STROUD

Se­cond only to walk­ing, cy­cling is the most af­ford­able trans­porta­tion op­tion avail­able. Once you’ve ac­quired a bike and a few key pieces of gear, an­nual main­te­nance costs are likely cheaper than what you spend get­ting your hair­cut each year.

Com­pare that to the costs of a car. On­tar­i­ans spend on av­er­age one fifth of their house­hold in­come on trans­porta­tion, and av­er­age an­nual ve­hi­cle costs range from $8,600 to $13,000. It be­comes easy to see how adopt­ing the use of a bike for trips around Peter­bor­ough could add up to big sav­ings for peo­ple in our com­mu­nity.

Whether a move to cy­cling leads to sav­ings of gas money, a re­duc­tion in the num­ber of house­hold ve­hi­cles, or sim­ply a faster op­tion to walk­ing, mak­ing cy­cling more vi­able for more peo­ple will put a city on the path to cre­at­ing a more eq­ui­table trans­porta­tion sys­tem.

Eq­uity in our trans­porta­tion sys­tem comes down to en­sur­ing that peo­ple have a safe, ac­ces­si­ble, and con­ve­nient way to ac­cess em­ploy­ment, school, health care, and more.

The best way to ad­dress bar­ri­ers to cy­cling is to work with peo­ple in our com­mu­nity to learn how we can make it eas­ier and safer. But, we can also learn from data to un­der­stand how plan­ning and pro­gram­ming can build greater eq­uity into our sys­tem.

Two keys to suc­cess that stand out in the re­search. First, peo­ple need ac­cess to a net­work that is low-stress and com­fort­able, and that stretches through­out our city. Se­cond, peo­ple need ac­cess to prod­ucts and pro­grams that are in­clu­sive and that ad­dress the di­verse bar­ri­ers to cy­cling.

The Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of City Trans­porta­tion Of­fi­cials (NACTO) re­ports that com­fort­able, low-stress bi­cy­cling con­di­tions can achieve wide­spread growth in bike use. Nearly twothirds of U.S. adults would like to ride more of­ten, but only 6-10 per cent of U.S. adults gen­er­ally feel com­fort­able rid­ing in mixed traf­fic or painted bike lanes. If bet­ter places to ride were avail­able, 81 per cent of those ten­ta­tive adults would jump on a bike. Soon af­ter im­ple­ment­ing the Sep­a­rated Bi­cy­cle Lanes Pro­gram, the City of Van­cou­ver saw the num­ber of bike trips in­crease of over 40 per cent!

Coun­tries that have made sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment in cy­cling in­fra­struc­ture also show a larger per­cent­age of rides made by groups who may not find our roads the most invit­ing place for bikes. In Den­mark, the Nether­lands, and Ger­many, 50 per cent of trips are made by women and girls, com­pared to 29 per cent, 24 per cent, and 21 per cent in the U.K., U.S. and Aus­tralia, re­spec­tively. Our own Peter­bor­ough counts show that women only make 26-29 per cent of over­all bike trips.

Cy­cling can also in­crease in­de­pen­dence for young peo­ple, as 15 per cent of our pop­u­la­tion is un­der 16 and can­not drive. Yet, here in Peter­bor­ough, fewer than two per cent of stu­dents ride their bike to school. Com­pare that to the Dan­ish city of Odense, where 81 per cent of chil­dren bike to school. Odense aims for bike routes to be safe enough for chil­dren six and over to ride alone. The same is true for older adults. In Den­mark, an older per­son is 30 times more likely to cy­cle than their coun­ter­part in the USA, and cy­cling rates only start to drop af­ter the age of 70 in the Nether­lands.

Build­ing low-stress com­fort­able bi­cy­cle in­fra­struc­ture helps ev­ery­one, and ap­pears to be par­tic­u­larly ben­e­fi­cial for get­ting groups like young peo­ple, older peo­ple, and women on bikes.

En­sur­ing that bi­cy­cle in­fra­struc­ture serves a di­ver­sity of res­i­dents can also help to shift the per­cep­tion that cy­cling is only for peo­ple who are un­able to af­ford ve­hi­cle own­er­ship, or for ur­ban­ites liv­ing in down­town neigh­bour­hoods.

A re­cent re­port by The Cen­tre for Ac­tive Trans­porta­tion (TCAT) cau­tioned that much of the shift to­wards cy­cling is found in wealth­ier neigh­bour­hoods and ar­eas around down­town cen­tres. In 2017, Sta­tis­tics Canada re­ported that cy­cling was more com­mon in high­ere­d­u­ca­tion and higher–in­come house­holds, and sug­gested that this was a re­sult of closer prox­im­ity to bike paths and traf­fic calm­ing mea­sures, greater ac­cess to bike park­ing at work, and more flex­i­ble work­ing hours.

TCAT rec­om­mends that ex­ist­ing and planned net­works be an­a­lyzed through an eq­uity lens to iden­tify dif­fer­ences in ac­cess based on in­come, race, neigh­bour­hood, and other so­cial de­ter­mi­nants. Many cities are now us­ing Bike Eq­uity Indexes and eq­uity gap analy­ses to en­sure more equal ac­cess to sup­port­ive in­fra­struc­ture and ser­vices.

Ac­cess to in­fra­struc­ture will bring eq­uity and af­ford­abil­ity to peo­ple in Peter­bor­ough, but so will ac­cess to prod­ucts, ser­vices, and pro­grams that help to over­come some of the bar­ri­ers that pop up in life.

Lo­cal shops aim to pro­vide bikes at var­i­ous prices and styles, along­side the gear that can make a bike more le­gal (e.g. lights, bells) and more com­fort­able (e.g. rack, pan­niers, and fend­ers). They are find­ing that peo­ple are look­ing for op­tions that al­low them to con­tinue bik­ing through pe­ri­ods of life that may have pre­sented bar­ri­ers in the past.

For ex­am­ple, fam­i­lies of­ten re­mark that it can be dif­fi­cult get­ting young kids to school or pick­ing up a load of gro­ceries. Greater ac­cess to bikes that help to trans­port kids and other heav­ier loads, such as a cargo or elec­tric bikes, is help­ing to pro­vid­ing an al­ter­na­tive to the car.

Lo­cal pro­grams, like Shift­ing Gears, help to pro­vide gear, knowl­edge, and com­mu­nity for those who are new to com­mut­ing by bike. B!KE: the Com­mu­nity Bike Shop helps to en­cour­age year-round bik­ing by over­com­ing weather-re­lated bar­ri­ers with its Win­ter Wheels pro­gram (ap­pli­ca­tions are open from now un­til Oct. 14. Ap­ply on­line at com­mu­ni­ty­bikeshop.org/ win­ter­wheels). “Win­ter Wheels has been highly suc­cess­ful in en­cour­ag­ing more peo­ple to ride bikes through the en­tire year,” Te­gan Moss, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor at B!KE ex­plains. “Win­ter is truly not as cold nor as snowy as most peo­ple imag­ine it to be, and Win­ter Wheels par­tic­i­pants are of­ten sur­prised by how en­joy­able it is to ride in win­ter and how lit­tle spe­cial equip­ment is needed.”

Hav­ing a range of prod­ucts and pro­grams that aim to make bikes a more vi­able life­long trans­porta­tion op­tion is im­por­tant, and in Peter­bor­ough, we’re for­tu­nate to have a num­ber of com­mu­nity part­ner­ships and or­ga­ni­za­tions who are com­mit­ted to mak­ing cy­cling ac­ces­si­ble, fun, and in­clu­sive.

Re­shap­ing the way we per­ceive trans­porta­tion choices is an im­por­tant part of build­ing a more eq­ui­table so­ci­ety, and in­creas­ing the num­ber and di­ver­sity of peo­ple on bikes can help us to do just that!

Share the Road

In 2018, the pro­vin­cial voice for cy­cling, Share the Road, re­leased a doc­u­ment ti­tled #BikesCanDo­That. It de­tails seven ben­e­fits that can be achieved when bikes be­come the daily ve­hi­cle of choice for more peo­ple in your com­mu­nity.

Through­out 2019, GreenUP will be ex­plor­ing the ben­e­fits that can be achieved by a city and its res­i­dents, when we com­mit to valu­ing the bike as a sig­nif­i­cant, use­ful (and fun) mode of trans­porta­tion. This is the fifth ar­ti­cle in the se­ries.

If you’d like to con­trib­ute ideas to the #BikesCanDo­That se­ries, please con­tact Lindsay Stroud at 705-745-3238 or [email protected]

Safely shar­ing the road with cars year-round is es­sen­tial to pro­vid­ing cy­clists with safe ac­cess to the en­tirety of Peter­bor­ough.


The pro­tected bike lane along the east bank of Trent Univer­sity pro­vides a safe route for cy­clists.

Cy­cling stats re­flect that there are great op­por­tu­ni­ties to im­prove eq­uity for groups like chil­dren and women in cy­cling.

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