Falling Behind on Protected Bike Lanes? Blame Canada

“Something big is definitely brewing in Canada.”

That’s the word from Michael Andersen at People for Bikes, which monitors Twitter for news on protected bike lanes around the English-speaking world.

When you make it safe for people to ride bikes, people will ride bikes. Just ask Vancouver, BC. Photo: People for Bikes
When you make it safe for people to ride bikes, people will ride bikes. Just ask Vancouver, BC. Photo: People for Bikes

Vancouver’s investment in bike infrastructure paid off with a 64 percent spike in bike traffic from 2013 to this year. And Andersen says Canada as a whole has recently “crossed a tipping point.”

[I]n the last six months we’ve watched in awe as a wave of protected bike lane chatter has been pouring out of every major English-speaking city in Canada: Victoria, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Hamilton, Halifax, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver.

(Note to self: add “piste cyclable” to Twitter search terms so we stop overlooking Quebec.)

Andersen says all the Twitter talk has been matched by activity on the ground:

Plans in some cities are more advanced than in others. Vancouver has arguably made the most significant investment in a connected protected bike lane network of any city on the continent over the last four years. Calgary is in the early months of an inspiring downtown trial. In Halifax, advocates deserve some sort of award for going street-by-street to measure existing lane widths and create their own detailed plan for a citywide protected bike lane network.

While Canada, like the U.S. and most other countries, is far from doing all that needs to be done to make cycling “comfortable and mainstream,” Andersen says “what’s happening right now is a deeply encouraging sign of how broadly a good idea can resonate once it really takes off.”

Elsewhere on the Network: Greater Greater Washington goes inside Denver’s grand new rail station, TheCityFix examines why bike share hasn’t taken hold in India, and Decatur Metro reposts a police press release begging drivers not to run over children as they head back to school.

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