New poll shows majority of Canadians support bike lanes but fewer want more in their cities

New poll shows majority of Canadians support bike lanes but fewer want more in their cities

Canadians in major metro areas are largely in favour of separated bike lanes but fewer want more built where they live. File photo.

Canadians in major metro areas are largely in favour of separated bike lanes but fewer want more built where they live. File photo.

A new survey poll from Angus Reid shows that while most Canadians in metro centres approve of separated bike lanes, many respondents don’t want more lanes in their communities.

The poll, released by the Angus Reid Institue on Thursday, surveyed 5,423 Canadians that are part of the Angus Reid Forum. The poll looks at conflicts between drivers and cyclists, and attitudes about bike lanes.

Sixty five per cent of Canadians surveyed said separated bike lanes are a good thing while 17 per cent said they were a bad thing. Eighteen per cent were not sure or could not say.

The poll also broke down that question by metro area. Fifty three per cent of Vancouver residents, 42 per cent of Edmonton residents and 46 per cent of Calgary residents believe separated bike lanes are a good thing. In Toronto and the 905 (suburban Toronto), approximately 60 per cent said separated bike lanes are a good thing compared to 84 per cent in Montreal, 64 per cent n Halifax and 76 per cent in Winnipeg.

“The belief that separated bike lanes are a good thing is the majority view in every metro area in this survey except those in Alberta, where it is still the most common view, though held by fewer than 50 per cent of respondents,” the survey analysis reads.

Similarly, more than seven-in-ten Canadians agree with the statement, “In general, bike lanes make a community a better place to live,” while fewer than half (48 per cent) agree that, “Ultimately, roads are for cars, not bikes.”

However, far fewer of the respondents are supportive of cycling infrastructure in their communities.

“After excluding those respondents who say there aren’t any separated bike lanes in their city or town, the percentage of Canadians who say their community has too few such lanes lags behind the
percentage who view such lanes as a good thing, overall, as will be discussed in the final section of this report,” the survey read.

“Indeed, in two metro areas – Calgary and Edmonton – respondents are more likely to say there are too many separated bike lanes than too few. Metro Vancouver residents are split, while east of Winnipeg, the call is for more lanes than fewer.”

In Metro Vancouver, 46 per cent of those surveyed said there were too few bike lanes, compared to 17 per cent who said there were too many and 37 per cent who said there was about the right amount.

And when it comes to cyclist and driver conflicts, the majority (60 per cent) said there isn’t much conflict between drivers and cyclists where they live. Twenty-four per cent said there is quite a bit of conflict and cyclists are more responsible for it. Sixteen per cent said there is quite a bit of conflict and drivers are more responsible.

“City-dwellers – likely as a result of higher rates of cycling and more congested streets in their areas – tend to be to see more conflict than the national average. Overall, 43 per cent of urban residents see conflict where they live, compared to 57 per cent who do not, and the conflict number grows substantially in certain large metro areas,” the survey read.

“Full majorities in Metro Vancouver, Winnipeg, and Halifax say there is quite a bit of conflict between cyclists and drivers in their area, as do six-in-ten residents of central Toronto’s 416 area code. Only in the more-suburban 905 area code is the perception of conflict lower than the national average.”

Age also appeared to be factor in someone’s view about whether drivers or cyclists are more responsible for conflict on the roads.

“Canadians ages 55 and older who see quite a bit of disagreement between drivers and cyclists in their communities are more likely to take the driver’s side, blaming cyclists for the conflict by a three-to-one margin,” the survey read.

“Meanwhile, those under age 35 who see problems on their neighbourhood streets are fairly split on which group to blame, with slightly more than half (53 per cent) blaming those in motor vehicles. The greater degree of sympathy for bicyclists among 18-34-year-olds may reflect this age group’s greater propensity to ride a bike. Fully one-in-six in this generation (17 per cent) ride a bicycle at least once per week. That’s nearly three times as many as ride a bike this often among the 55-plus age group.”

In the poll, seven per cent surveyed said they ride a bike multiple times per week compared to 16 per cent who use transit and 78 per cent who drive a vehicle.

“Not coincidentally, those who ride a bicycle multiple times per week are considerably more likely to blame drivers for disputes between the two groups on the roadways. The much larger portion of the population that drives a vehicle multiple times per week, meanwhile, is more likely to blame cyclists. Frequent public transit users are divided on this question.”

The poll also found 67 per cent agree that too many cyclists don’t follow the rules of the road while 64 per cent said too many drivers don’t pay close enough attention to cyclists on the road.

The poll, which was conducted between March 6 and March 15, has a margin of error of plus or minus two per cent, 19 times out of 20.


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