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Saskatoon beats Vancouver for 'bikeability'

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

A heat map of Vancouver's "bikeability" made as part of the inspiration for Bike Score.

A heat map of Vancouver's "bikeability" made as part of the inspiration for Bike Score. submitted

"The difference between the two has to do with topography. Saskatoon does have infrastructure and has a fairly compact centre. Also, Bike Score doesn't include climate." — Meghan Winters

A made-in-Vancouver method to measure the “bikeability” of a city has grown so much it covers 160 North American cities — with enough data for researchers to learn exactly how a good biking climate attracts cyclists.

Meghan Winters, a Simon Fraser University professor, was among several B.C. researchers who helped develop the Bike Score metric in partnership with U.S.-based company Walk Score, which has published similar scoring metrics for walking and transit in North American cities.

Using the data — Vancouver received a Bike Score of 78 out of 100 — she found that for every 10 points in BikeScore a city is awarded, the city is likely to receive a .5% increase in cycling commuters.

It’s not perfect, but the data provides more evidence that cities that continue to improve cycling infrastructure will attract more cycling commuters. In Vancouver, about 4.1% of commuters do so by bike.

“It is evidence-driven, it is based on a whole diverse type of preferences. Where people say they want to go where people actually go and their explanations on what is important to them,” Winters said.

Bike Scores look for three things to measure — the presence of bicycle lanes, the presence and grade of hills, and where people are generally cycling to and from. Vancouver received a score of 71.2 for bike lanes, 79.3 for hills and 91.1 for connectivity.

Winters said those measures were chosen as part of a list of more than 70 factors cyclists provided when asked what motivates them to bike. Vancouver, out of the 24 cities examined in the latest finding, ranked fourth, behind Ford Collins, Colo., (83.6) Montreal (78.8) and Saskatoon (78.7).

Among neighbourhoods, Vancouver’s best places to cycle are Downtown, Mount Pleasant, the West End and Fairview.