New data suggests that bike-friendly infrastructure really does make a difference in changing the transportation habits of city residents.
The 2015 Winnipeg Bicycle Counts Report found that bicycle counts at locations where cycle-friendly infrastructure had been built or improved skyrocketed by 115 percent, CBC reported. In addition, the report found that officially naming certain streets or areas as bikeways led to more people cycling through them.
Overall, the report determined that commuter cycling increased by 20 percent in Winnipeg.
“So it’s really a case where if you build it, you will get more cyclists riding,” said Jerry Hull, Chair of the Education Committee for Bike Winnipeg, in an interview with CBC.
It was stated in the report that: “There is strong evidence that even the limited construction of new cycling infrastructure that has occurred since 2009 has had a positive impact on the number of cyclists in Winnipeg.”
However, the report showed that once infrastructure spending ceased, bike usage stagnated.
“After the big infrastructure spending in about 2009 [to 2011], there was a substantial increase in cycling. And now that there hasn’t been as much spending on new infrastructure, it sort of leveled off,” said Hull to CBC.
Other Canadian cities have seen growing success with cycling infrastructure, including Montreal. According to the Guardian, the city has 400 miles of bike lanes and provides 5,000 public rental bicycles, which helped residents embrace swapping public transportation and cars for two wheels.
Canada Bikes, an advocacy organization based in Winnipeg, completed a report outlining the economic and employment benefits of expanded cycling infrastructure and bike use in the country. The report cited findings from the University of Massachusetts in the U.S. that bicycling infrastructure creates more jobs for every million dollars spent than any other type of road infrastructure project. It also noted that cycling infrastructure improves access to employment for individuals that do not drive and residents of rural communities.
In addition, the report stated that cycling infrastructure boosts tourism and job growth. The report included data that showed that the Route Verte in Quebec helped support 2,861 jobs and produced more than $38 million in government revenues.