Safer options attract more female cyclists: Report
City council votes on whether to invest in more cycling infrastructure as data shows more women taking to the pedals. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS)
After cycling through Vancouver’s streets for more than 20 years, Richard Campbell says it’s hard not to notice the shifting demographics among riders as bike lanes continue to sprout up across the city.
“On Ontario (Street), for a few minutes, sometimes all the people I will see on the bike route will be women,” the president of the B.C. Cycling Coalition said.
In fact, the number of cycling trips made by females between 2008 and 2011 nearly doubled from 14,000 to 27,000 annually, according to a staff report that also recommends Vancouver city council votes Wednesday in favour of boosting cycling infrastructure.
Women accounted for 41% of all Vancouver cyclists in 2011, a more than 30% boost compared to five years ago.
Coun. Heather Deal attributed much of that growth to the city’s investments in separated bike lanes, which has made cycling more attractive both for women and new riders concerned about safety.
“We’re not necessarily building for the existing cyclists, were building for the future cyclists,” she said.
The staff report notes last year just 23% of cyclists travelling across the Canada Line Bridge were female, "which is likely a result of the intimidating cycling connections on either side of the bridge."
Among the three projects worth $3 million city council is expected to vote on this week is $750,000 in improvements to the infrastructure around the bridge.
Upgrades include a separated bike lane to make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists who have to cross a rail line and industrial road to reach the connection to Richmond.
“It’s not only about safety, it’s not only about increasing the numbers (of cyclists), it’s about enjoying the trip,” Deal said.