Vancouver Challenging Portland As North America’s #1 Biking City

By Roy L Hales

Screen-shot-2014-03-18-at-3.43.47-PMPortland has long been been North America’s #1 bike-friendly city. According to the Portland Bureau of Transportation, 7.2% of “commuters go by bike.” That figure is taken from the 2014 census, which also shows the closest U.S. competitors as Minneapolis (4.6%), San Francisco (4.4%) and Seattle (3.7%). Now a new report shows Vancouver challenging Portland as North America’s #1 biking city.

Vancouver Challenging Portland As North America’s #1 Biking City

 Annual Monitoring Report & Safety Action Plan, May 4, 2016 Council Presentation, City of Vancouver
Annual Monitoring Report & Safety Action Plan, May 4, 2016 Council Presentation, City of Vancouver

During 2014, 9% of Vancouver’s workforce pedalled to work.

The statistics got even better in 2015, when 10% of Vancouver’s population commuted to work and 7% of all daily trips within the city were by bicycle.

Margi Broadway, Active Transportation Division Manager of Portland Bureau of Transportation, was en route to a meeting when I caught up to her.

When I mentioned that 9% of Vancouver’s residents pedalled to work in 2014, she responded, “We like to compare ourselves to U.S. cities. We’re not quite in Vancouver’s numbers yet. We’d like to be, those are great numbers.”

Bradway mentioned a household survey that found that 7.8% of Portland residents commute by bike.[1. Roy L Hales interview of Margi Broadway, Active Transportation Division Manager of Portland Bureau of Transportation]

 Annual Monitoring Report & Safety Action Plan, May 4, 2016 Council Presentation, City of Vancouver
Annual Monitoring Report & Safety Action Plan, May 4, 2016 Council Presentation, City of Vancouver

It seems too early for Vancouver to break out the champagne. Portland doesn’t appear to be using distinctions like the percentages of people who “commute to work by bicycle” and “daily trips within the city.”

If that second figure (7%) is a fairer comparison, Portland is still ahead by a nose – and the race is on!

Regardless of whether Vancouver is now #1 or a contender, it is clearly benefitting from the development of a bicycle infrastructure.

Bombardier FLEXITY Streetcar has finally arrived safely under the Cambie Bridge. A custom built ramp is crucial for its safe transition from transport trailer to tracks at False Creek under Cambie Bridge- Courtesy City of Vancouver
Bombardier FLEXITY Streetcar has finally arrived safely under the Cambie Bridge. A custom built ramp is crucial for its safe transition from transport trailer to tracks at False Creek under Cambie Bridge- Courtesy City of Vancouver

A study from Vancouver’s Comox-Helmcken Greenway showed that the area’s 49% increase in the number of bicycle trips was matched by a 35% decrease in auto trips and a 9.8% decrease in the number of days of poor mental and physical health.

“These new biking records clearly show that the City’s investments in Vancouver’s active transportation network are paying off big – reducing car traffic and making it safer and more affordable for people to get around,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson.

Other Means Of Transport

Only 41% of Vancouver’s residents are now driving to work and more than half of these (26% of all residents) have a car share membership.

The number of people walking or talking transit are each 24%.

DC fast charge station for electric vehicles at Empire Fields - Courtesy City of Vancouver
DC fast charge station for electric vehicles at Empire Fields – Courtesy City of Vancouver

Earlier this month, Vancouver announced the installation of its’ first DC Fast Charger at Empire Fields. Though the city has about 250 (antiquated) Level 2 charging stations, “…a DC fast-charge station can charge an electric vehicle’s battery to 80% in about 20 minutes, or about eight to 10 times faster than a typical home charging system.”

This might the beginning of a new challenge.

Portland has a network of 265 charging stations, 12 of which are DC fast-chargers.[2. The Mayor’s Office, Portland, Oregon]

Mind you, they both have to catch up to San Francisco, which had 476 charging stations as of 2014. [3. CLEAN TECH LEADERSHIP INDEX, State & Metro June 2015, Clean Edge, p 36]

Top Photo Credit: Carroll Street Greenway – Courtesy City of Vancouver

Footnote

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