University of Toronto Magazine University of Toronto Magazine
Infographic: Percentage of all trips in each Toronto ward that are taken by bicycle, 2011.
Map illustration by Toronto Cycling Think & Do Tank

Where People Pedal

Why are some wards more popular among cyclists than others?

On a warm sunny morning in Toronto, so many cyclists zip along College Street that bystanders might mistakenly think they were in bike-crazy Amsterdam, where 60 per cent of downtown trips are made on two wheels. As this map shows, Toronto’s central core – with its many bike lanes and slower traffic – is the most popular area in the city for cycling. Eight out of 10 bike trips occur in the city’s 14 downtown wards.

But what makes some central wards more popular among cyclists than others is not always clear. U of T researcher Trudy Ledsham (BA 2011 Woodsworth, MA 2012) says urban design and the presence of desirable destinations within the ward are important factors, but people’s values, childhood experience with cycling, social relations and recent life events can also strongly affect whether they will take up cycling.

Ledsham is a member of the Toronto Cycling Think & Do Tank – a research group hosted at U of T’s School of the Environment. Another member, Emma Cohlmeyer (MA 2013), created a “cycling adoption toolkit” designed to accelerate participation in bike commuting. As their studies (and this map) show, building bike lanes is only half the battle. You have to change attitudes as well.

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