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January 18, 2010
Survey shows cycling is on the rise in Toronto
More people are cycling in Toronto than ever before, says a survey conducted for the City of Toronto. In fact, a majority of Toronto residents age 15 years and older are riding bicycles (54 per cent) and, increasingly, they are using them for more than just recreation.
Whether it’s a trip to the store to pick up bread, visit friends or ride to school, Torontonians cycling for practical day-to-day needs (utilitarian purposes) is on the rise. While the highest number of utilitarian cyclists remains in the city’s central core, the survey showed that the most significant increases in utilitarian riding were in other parts of the city including North York (from 11 to 25 per cent), Etobicoke (from 15 to 26 per cent) and Scarborough (from 14 to 22 per cent).
The survey, conducted in 2009 by Ipsos Reid, found that more Toronto residents were cycling to school and work than 10 years ago. A total of 16 per cent said they used their bicycles to commute to work or school, up from 11 per cent in 1999. And many of those who commute by bike are riding more days a week than in the past.
“These increases demonstrate our success at improving the cycling infrastructure throughout the entire city, not just downtown,” said Adrian Heaps, Chair of the City’s Cycling Committee (Councillor, Ward 35 Scarborough Southwest). “The survey shows that there has been a significant increase in the number of people using the bikeway network.”
Investments in the cycling infrastructure over the past 10 years are being recognized and the survey reveals that 72 per cent of Torontonians believe that the overall quality of cycling routes and facilities has improved compared to 1999. However, cyclists and non-cyclists alike agree that having more bike lanes on streets would have the greatest impact on improving cycling in the city. In fact, 66 per cent of non-cyclists, 77 per cent of utilitarian cyclists and 68 per cent of recreational cyclists believe that separated bike lanes on city streets would greatly improve cycling in Toronto.
In addition to a comprehensive cycling network, the importance of bicycle parking facilities is also articulated. The survey showed that secure bicycle parking at transit stations has the potential to increase combined cycling and transit trips. One third of cyclists reported combining biking and public transportation sometimes. The majority of these cyclists (74 per cent of utilitarian and 66 per cent of recreational cyclists) say they would combine cycling and public transit more often if secure bicycle parking was provided at subway stations.
As to why people are cycling, exercise and health was considered the most motivating factor with about 40 per cent of cyclists choosing this reason.
“Whether it is for health, recreation or the environment, cycling is good for the overall well being of our city,” said Councillor Heaps.
Gary Welsh, General Manager of Transportation Services, said the survey reflects the cycling improvements that have been implemented as part of the City's Bike Plan. “The division is committed to providing cycling infrastructure and promoting cycling in the city. Policies such as clearing snow from the Martin Goodman Trail and events such as Coldest Day of the Year ride along the trail later this month illustrate our support for cycling - not just in good weather, but all year round.”
To see the entire survey, click on
The survey is considered accurate to within plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Toronto is Canada's largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America. Toronto has won numerous awards for quality, innovation and efficiency in delivering public services. Toronto's government is dedicated to prosperity, opportunity and liveability for all its residents. For information about non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can dial 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Steve Johnston, Senior Communications Coordinator, 416-392-4391, firstname.lastname@example.org
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