Analysis of Bicycling Trends and Policies in Large North American Cities

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, Research and Innovative Technology Administration

This research report for the U.S. Department of Transportation reviews trends in cycling levels, safety, and policies in large North American cities over the past two decades. We analyze aggregate national data as well as city-specific case study data for nine large cities (Chicago, Minneapolis, Montreal, New York, Portland, San Francisco, Toronto, and Vancouver). The number of bike commuters in the USA rose by 64% from 1990 to 2009, and the bike share of commuters rose from 0.4% to 0.6%. Over the shorter period from 1996 to 2006, the number of bike commuters in Canada rose by 42%, and the bike share of commuters rose from 1.1% to 1.3%. From 1988 to 2008, cycling fatalities fell by 66% in Canada and by 21% in the USA; serious injuries fell by 40% in Canada and by 31% in the USA.

Cycling rates have risen much faster in the nine case study cities than in their countries as a whole, at least doubling in all the cities since 1990. The case study cities have implemented a wide range of infrastructure and programs to promote cycling and increase cycling safety: expanded and improved bike lanes and paths, traffic calming, parking, bike-transit integration, bike sharing, training programs, and promotional events. We describe the specific accomplishments of the nine case study cities, focusing on each city's innovations and lessons for other cities trying to increase cycling.

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