Share The Road

How Dependant on Cars Are We?

  • Bicycling is an ideal mode of transportation for short trips (<5 km). Unfortunately, while almost 50% of car trips are <5 km, bicycling accounted for an average of 1.2% of work trips in Canada in 2001 (5).
  • Over the past two decades, rates of driving have steadily climbed while rates of cycling and walking have declined (Table 2).
  • Table 2: Trends in Auto Dependency (Percentage Change over 20 years)

    Population Increased 20%
    Length of Commute Increased 30%
    Miles Driven Increased 50%
    Time Spent In Traffic Increased 225%
    Time spent Walking & Cycling Decreased 45%
    Adapted from: Fulton, Pendall et al., (July 2001), “Who Sprawls Most? How Growth Patterns Differ Across the U.S” (28)
  • The good news for car drivers is that investing in cycling infrastructure means fewer cars on the road and reduced commuting times by car. Cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam with high rates of cycling have much shorter commuting times. The average commuting time by car in Copenhagen is under 30 minutes, in Amsterdam it is 47 minutes. The average commuting time in most Canadian cities is 63 minutes (10) and in Toronto and Vancouver it is now over 70 minutes (12).
  • From cities in developed countries like Denmark (11) to cities in developing countries like Columbia (10). The evidence is that investing in cycling reduces traffic congestion.
  • In the 1970’s, bike riding in Copenhagen was at an all time low and traffic congestion was very severe. Since then Copenhagen has invested heavily in cycling infrastructure and has seen traffic congestion substantially (11). In contrast, over the same period of time, traffic congestion in North America has grown steadily worse and we now spend 225% more time in traffic than we did just 20 years ago (28).
  • A four country comparative survey in Europe found that regions that relied more on trains and cycling and less on cars had the shortest commuting times (29).
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