Canada Could Have 12% of Trips by Cycling in 2030, BC Even Higher
Since we submitted our recommendations for dramatically increased investment in cycling to the Climate Leadership Plan team in September, A Global High Shift Cycling Scenario (HSC), was released in mid November. The study by the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy and the University of California, Davis, confirms the significant potential for cycling and electric bicycle use to significantly reduce GHG emissions while providing significant cost savings to individuals and government. The results show that a world with a dramatic increase in cycling could save society US $24 trillion cumulatively between 2015 and 2050 in urban passenger transport costs, and cut CO2 emissions from urban passenger transport by nearly 11 percent in 2050 compared to a High Shift scenario without a strong cycling emphasis.
For Canada, the report projects a HSC cycling mode share of 12% in 2030 and 16% in 2050. As British Columbia’s 2011 cycling commuting mode share of 2.1% is higher than Canada’s 1.3% and the winter climate is rather mild in areas of BC where a significant portion of the population lives, we would expect the potential HSC cycling mode share of BC to be greater than that of Canada as a whole.
The Metro Vancouver Regional Cycling Strategy predicts that upon buildout, the cycling network in Metro Vancouver is expected to increase cycling from 1.8% of trips to 10% of trips at a cost of $850 million. The Capital Regional District Regional Pedestrian and Cycling Master Plan predicts cycling network buildout will increase cycling from 5.9% of trips to 15% of trips at a cost of $275 million. Based on these numbers, we estimated that with an investment of $1 billion matched by another $1 billion by the Federal Government and municipalities, the cycling mode share could increase to 12% by 2025.
The Metro Vancouver Regional Cycling Strategy or Capital Regional District Regional Pedestrian and Cycling Master Plan did not consider scenarios like HSC reflecting the high potential of electric bicycles. Electric bicycles are important especially for communities suburban and rural where trip distances are often far too long for walking and even human powered bicycles. With electric bicycles, people can easily cover distances of 10 or even 20 kilometres in a reasonable amount time making them useful for a vast majority of daily trips.
Cycling is already popular. In the B.C. on the Move public opinion survey, 72% of respondents supported cycling improvements. Almost 70% of adults in BC ride a bicycle at least once a year, 42% at least once a month and 25% at least once a week. Many want to cycle more, with around 65% indicating they would ride more if there were separated bike lanes that protected them from traffic.
There are no technical barriers to dramatically increasing bicycle or electric bicycle use and, while a $1 billion is a significant investment, it is much less than a few large highway projects and would directly benefit far more people and communities across the Province. This investment would build upon the significant investment the Province has already made in cycling on projects throughout BC over the last two decades. Aside from the reduction in urban passenger transportation costs outlined in the attached research, the Provincial Government would also see a significant return on this investment in terms of reduced health care costs and other benefits to society from increased cycling.
We are strongly recommending to the Government of BC that High Shift Cycling Scenarios are used in developing cycling and transportation recommendations in the Climate Leadership Plan and that the Provincial Government develops and implements an Active Transportation Strategy to help the residents of British Columbia realize the many benefits of cycling and walking.
I call upon the Government of BC to enable everyone in BC to cycle & walk in safety as part of their daily lives by implementing an Active Transportation Strategy that includes:
- Investing $1 billion over the next ten years to:
- Upgrade cycling & walking facilities on provincial roads & bridges
- Complete cycling & walking networks in communities across BC
- Provide safe routes to school for children
- Build trails & routes for cycling & walking tourism
- Ensuring that paths & protected bike lanes can be safely shared by people using wheelchairs, skateboards & in-line skates
- Enhancing cycling education for children & adults
- Promoting cycling & walking
- Encouraging electric bike use by eliminating the PST & providing rebates