Friday, October 17, 2014

Four key facts regarding bicycling in Calgary

On October 16, the Manning Foundation released a report on cycling in Calgary. The City welcomes the report’s recommendations, many of which reaffirm actions The City is already undertaking. In response to some of the statements found in the Manning Foundation report, Don Mulligan, Director of Transportation Planning, offers four key facts to help set the record straight.

Report: Only limited studies of the demographics of cyclists in Calgary have been conducted (page 7).

Fact: The City has conducted a variety of surveys to learn about different types of cyclists in Calgary. In 2006, a survey explained about the type of cyclist who commutes downtown. In 2009, a co-sponsored survey with University of Calgary looked at the demographics of cycling in the University of Calgary/West Campus area. In 2010, The City commissioned Ipsos Reid to conduct a city-wide telephone survey to learn more about the demographics of Calgarians who cycle and those who do not. Other research methods on demographics include the Civic Census, the Household Activity Survey and the Annual Bike Count Report.  

In addition to who and who doesn’t cycle in Calgary, the results of each survey informed The City that there is a strong support for more on-street bike lanes. Ultimately, these surveys assisted with the creation of the Cycling Strategy, which led to dedicated funds to improve conditions for bicycling outside and inside the downtown area for all demographics. Moving forward, The City will continue to reach out to citizens to help plan the right bicycle facilities in the right places, including the upcoming city-wide Bikeway and Pathway plan.

Report: Future design decisions must not continue to be made based on the city’s “typical cyclist” as they have been up until now (page 7).

Fact: The 2010 Ipsos Reid survey results identified that 80 per cent of respondents want to cycle more but do not, citing safety as a primary concern. The Council-approved Cycling Strategy provided the funding to plan, design and build more bike lanes and cycle tracks to attract a broader demographic than just the Calgarians who already cycle. Contrary to Manning Foundation’s report, The City’s 2011 Cycling Strategy includes specific actions that help make cycling a comfortable and safer travel option for more Calgarians, such as the recently opened cycle track on 7 Street S.W. and the future cycle track pilot project in downtown.

Report: The City’s Transportation department only conducted its first official bicycle count as recently as the summer of 2013 (page 16).

Fact: The City has been collecting data on bicycle counts for the past 20 years. The City uses a variety of data collection methods including manual counts, video cameras and in-pavement sensors. The City conducts field tests of new technologies before implementing them and expects to install several new automated counters next year, with data live on the web. Trends are captured in the Yearbook publication. Calgary is one of the first cities in North America to publish bicycle data in several different ways in one complete and comprehensive document.  The 2013 Bike Count Report is but one of the ways we collect and analyze data.

Report: Even when specific projects are being proposed, data is not being collected before, during, and after these projects are introduced, to measure their success.

Fact: The City collects and analyzes data before, during and after projects are introduced. Data is continually used to analyze impacts to traffic and gauge current and historic trends by the City’s Transportation Data Division. Analyzing various factors, here’s how data was used to help plan and design the new Bowness Road. For the 10 Street NW bike lane project, The City has released new data here and here.

For more information about The City’s effort to improve conditions for bicycling please visit You can find more information on The City’s bike data at

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