Researchers from SFU, University of Toronto and McGill Univeristy recommend ten actions to grow cycling in Canada.

FHS researchers recommend actions to increase cycling in Canada

September 25, 2019

With more Canadians cycling now than ever before, communities can take action to make it a practical transportation option.

Increasing Cycling in Canada: A Guide to What Works is a new report released today by The Centre for Active Transportation (TCAT) at Clean Air Partnership, in collaboration with researchers from Simon Fraser University, University of Toronto and McGill University. It offers municipalities ten recommended actions to grow cycling in their communities.

Faculty of Health Sciences professor Meghan Winters and PhD student Stephanie Sersli have been involved in this SSHRC funded project for the last five years. Winters has contributed across all the team projects, while Sersli led research on cycling education programs, including mentorship programs, programs for newcomers to Canada and training programs for children.

“Our research team looked at places in Canada where cycling has increased significantly, and analyzed data and conducted interviews to determine why,” says Winters. “This report synthesizes our work and others, and highlights ten specific actions communities can use to increase cycling and cycling supports.”

Interestingly, the study found that widespread growth in cycling has occurred in numerous communities in British Columbia. Six of the top 15 communities with the highest increases in cycling in the past 20 years are in BC, including the City of North Vancouver, District of North Vancouver, Saanich, Victoria, Vancouver and Kelowna.

By highlighting the economic, environmental, social and health benefits of cycling, the guide helps municipalities with planning sustainable cycling infrastructure and programs.

“There is something in this guide to help every community move forward to get more people cycling, more often, for more of their trips.” says Winters.


Quick Facts:

  • Identify cycling potential: More short trips, more trips per day, and fewer cars per person are all associated with more cycling. Map these factors to find places with the best potential for increasing cycling.  
  • Make it safe: Having safe routes to ride is crucial. Canada’s top neighbourhoods for cycling in 2016 had almost four times more cycling infrastructure than other neighbourhoods. 
  • Pair up projects and programs: Cycling infrastructure and programming have the greatest impact when they act synergistically. Amplify the impact of new facilities by pairing them with cycling-friendly policies and targeted, community-based campaigns.
  • Address weather and hills: Snowy weather and hills can be challenging for people on bike. Yet Montreal has seen cycling increase by 170% over the past 20 years. Prioritize key cycling routes for snow-clearing and provide help getting up hills. 
  • This research was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and the Metcalf Foundation. 

About TCAT:

The Centre for Active Transportation (TCAT), a project of Clean Air Partnership (CAP), advances knowledge and evidence to build support for safe and inclusive streets for walking and cycling. TCAT believes that active transportation plays a critical role in creating environmentally and economically sustainable cities.