Media Release | May. 14, 2012

Vancouver, Montreal, Portland and Minneapolis among most “bikeable” cities in North America: UBC research

University of British Columbia researchers are making bikeability research easily accessible to consumers and city planners by introducing bikeability “heat maps” in partnership with Seattle-based Walk Score® at www.walkscore.com/bike.

Combining data on availability of cycling infrastructure (bike lanes and trails), topography (hilliness), desirable destinations (attractions, shops and restaurants) and road connectivity, researchers from UBC’s School of Population and Public Health and Simon Fraser University worked with web developers from Walk Score® to develop algorithms to make the information easily accessible online.

Heat maps of Bike Score™ for 10 Canadian and 10 U.S. cities were launched today during National Bike Month in the U.S. and in advance of Bike Month in Canada. Victoria, Vancouver and Montreal rate highest in bikeability for Canadian cities; while Minneapolis, Portland and San Francisco lead in the U.S.

For a sample of a heat map, visit http://www.publicaffairs.ubc.ca/?p=47739. For more information on bikeability research, visit http://cyclingincities.spph.ubc.ca/mapping-cycling-trips/tools-training/.

“‘Walkability’ has become part of the popular vocabulary as more emphasis is placed on physical activity, community interaction and healthy living,” says Meghan Winters, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University, who conducted the research while a PhD student at UBC. “Bike Score™ and the heat maps will help cities measure and improve their cycling infrastructure – a key to increasing ridership.”

Cycling rates in Canada and the U.S. are low in comparison to many European cities. This disparity is explained, in part, by differences in urban form and cycling infrastructure, says Mike Brauer, Professor, UBC School of Population and Public Health. With rising gas prices, however, more North Americans are looking for more affordable ways to get around, particularly in neighborhoods with limited access to public transportation and where distances are too far to walk to work or shopping.

“Bicycling is a form of healthy, active transportation,” Brauer says. “We wanted to provide a user-friendly tool to gauge the bikeability of cities and neighbourhoods that would help planners identify areas that would benefit from additional infrastructure, while encouraging people to hop on a bike.”

“Walk Score® helps people find places to live where they can drive less and live more,” says Josh Herst, CEO of Walk Score®. “With the launch of Bike Score™ we’re excited to provide the only quantitative measure of bikeability in the U.S. and Canada to help people find bikeable neighborhoods and commutes.”

The partnership with Walk Score® was enabled by a grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

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Katherine Came
UBC School of Population and Public Health
Tel: 604.822.0530
E-mail: Katherine.came@ubc.ca
Twitter: @UBCSPPH

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A sample bikeability heat map of Vancouver (Credit: UBC and WalkScore)

A sample bikeability heat map of Vancouver (Credit: UBC and WalkScore)

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