Vancouver’s ‘Bikability’

Cycling in Cities is a research program at the University of British Columbia’s School of Population & Public Health. The goal of the program is to create useful tools for policy-makers, planners, and the public to evaluate the “bikability” of their city. Included in the research program is the BICE Study which looks closely at the trip and personal characteristics of injured cyclists.

The BICE Study surveyed 690 adults injured while cycling in Toronto and Vancouver. Data collected included trip characteristics like weather conditions, season, time of day, and personal characteristics like age, sex, and education.

The research found that the majority of participants were injured on cycling trips less than five km long during regular weekday commutes.  Of the injury events, 72% were collisions and 28% were falls. Helmets were found to be the most commonly used safety equipment. However, it was uncommon for cyclists to use crash-preventative measures like bright-coloured clothing to increase visibility.

How can you avoid injury while cycling?

Kay Teschke, professor at UBC’s School of Population & Public Health, cautions cyclists to choose safe routes. “A helmet only helps after a crash,” says Teschke. “It can’t reduce your risk of being in a crash in the first place.”

Research from Cycling in Cities showed that the safest route features were:

  • Separated bike lanes
  • Residential street bike routes with traffic diversion
  • Bike lanes on major streets with no parked cars
  • Off-street bike paths
  • Vehicle speeds < 30km/h at intersections

If possible, cyclists should avoid construction areas, downhill grades, and shared car/bike lanes. Cyclists should also wear a helmet and bright attire to be visible.

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James Richards
James Richards is a born and raised Vancouverite who studied History, Political Science and Law at University of British Columbia. His over 20 years of legal practice and a busy and active family gives him his purpose, focus and some good writing material. When not in work–mode, he enjoys any excuse to be out and about our amazing city.