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City of Toronto releases Bicycle Count Statistics

Counting BikesIn September 2010, the City of Toronto conducted the first ever count of cyclists heading into (and out of) the downtown core.  To measure these numbers, they established 4 “screenlines” along Spadina, Bloor, Jarvis and Queens Quay and counted cyclists entering and exiting the downtown zone between 7 am and 7 pm on days without rain.

They’ve released their numbers, and they are impressive:

  • Between the hours of 7:00 AM and 7:00 PM on a typical weekday in September 2010, 19,162 cyclists entered Toronto’s downtown core, and 15,241 exited the core.
  • The western screenline at Spadina Avenue had the highest bicycle volumes, carrying 45% of all cyclists travelling to and from the core.
  • The majority (62%) of cyclists were male, wore a helmet (54%), and rode on the street rather than on the sidewalk (95%). Very few (0.32%) of counted cyclists were passengers (e.g. in a child seat or trailer).

This is a great release of information and if the City can continue to undertake these cyclist counting initiatives, it can address anti-bike infrastructure sentiment with cold, hard, statistical facts.

Between the hours of 7:00 AM and
7:00 PM on a typical weekday in September
2010, 19,162 cyclists entered Toronto’s
downtown core, and 15,241exited the core.
The western screenline at Spadina
Avenue had the highest bicycle volumes,
carrying 45% of all cyclists travelling to and
from the core.
The majority (62%) of cyclists were
male, wore a helmet (54%), and rode on the
street rather than on the sidewalk (95%).
Very few (0.32%) of counted cyclists were
passengers (e.g. in a child seat or trailer).
  • Rob

    I appreciate those statistics, and they show that a lot of people bike into (and out of) the city core. It’s evident that a substantial number of people choose cycling as their way of transportation.

    One caveat – What do they mean by the downtown core? I think I may live within the downtown core, and I cycle to work everyday. But if I don’t live within the core (and therefore may not cycle into and out of it) I may not be captured in their stats.

    Rob

  • In related(?) news, the City of Vancouver estimates an average of 60,000 bike trips a day now take place in Vancouver…

    In that City of Light, in 2009 they amended their by-laws to reduce speed limits to 30km/h on all local roads that have bikelanes…
    tks
    loCk

  • Ken Chase

    many cyclists also use non arterial roads – do not assume that they’re the fastest point a to b.

    Huron enjoys a huge amount of bike traffic due to the ridiculous deficiencies of the spadina “bike lane”, so that’s an example, despite the (rather light and non troubling) illegality of riding counter to one ways on huron.

    huron is also a far better quality pavement street all the way to Dupont: it’s wider, has less traffic, fewer stop signs and pot holes, and is barely a block from St George and it’s bike lane (whereas on huron bike lanes are not even needed). These alternative routes should be watched for traffic.

    A better screenline for ‘downtown’ or ‘core’ areas would be getting up and down the davenport escarpment: there are relatively few ways to do it on a bike – all are arterials except for Wychwood (which is semi private anyway), or a few stairways you could lug your bike up and down. Otherwise it’s only (from the don) Mt Plesant, Poplar Plains/Russel Hill (easily watchable from where Davenport meets them), Spadina (terrible route up the escarpment, long jog, narrow, lots of cars), Avenue Rd (deathtrap 80km/h 6 lane freeway when not under construction), Bathurst (narrow freeway) and then i think way over around Shaw.

    There are many cyclists who use side streets, though east west there are fewer routes than
    north south (perhaps due to the prevalent orientation of n-s for sidestreets in Toronto, perhaps
    originally to shield adjacent houses from the direct north wind in winter).

    Many cyclists cross Spadina at Nassau/Cecil, for eg, which is a great route into the core bringing one to Elm or Gerrard.

    An estimate should be made regarding how many cyclists were not counted on these alternate ingress routes for a true picture.

  • misslynx

    Ken – There are indeed ways up and down the Davenport escarpment between Bathurst and Shaw – Christie’s the most obvious, and has bike lanes on it. From there over, there’s Turner and Bracondale Hill (really not recommended – too steep!), Winona (not too bad), Alberta (a little too steep, as it actually goes up a rise and then drops on the other side), and my favourite, Mount Royal, which swings around to connect with Alberta on the other side of the rise/drop, making it by far the most gentle ascent up that hill I’ve found anywhere.

    Actually, wait a minute – just checked the map and Shaw is in fact between Bracondale Hill and Winona, so I guess I overshot the mark a little there. :-) Still, Christie is a good route to consider if you’re in that area.

  • @Rob – they are defining the core as being within Spadina, Bloor, Jarvis and Queens Quay – almost the same boundaries as the Bixi Public Bike system starting next year.

  • Where are the 4,000 people who cycled downtown but didn’t return?

  • @Stephen, could be many factors: people taking the TTC home with bikes, leaving the bikes downtown overnight, or were outbound during hours when the study was not conducted.

  • @Bikeroo Thanks for straightening that out – I feared they may have been abducted by Team Ford and forced to drive home.

  • Ken Chase said,
    “many cyclists also use non arterial roads – do not assume that they’re the fastest point a to b.”

    And all those great examples, nicely said and well researched. Bravo.

    These ‘not watched’ streets was the first thing I noticed when I read the study, they included many of my favourite safe-routes. I agree with your Huron street take; the north/south numbers at the top of the box seemed low to me, even taking into account the shorter box dimension. I think Huron Street omission may have missed 1/5 of the traffic volume!

    The fact that the people doing the study don’t seem to understand these peculiarities of the area they were studying makes one wonder, as you say, when the study to fix this study will be begin.

    The safest routes are off the freeway roads and as safety is one on the top reasons why people aren’t riding, one has to assume a lot of people are also finding safer routes. All points on the box could have been covered at little more expense.

    Let’s get a better picture next time please.

    Michael Holloway
    BikingToronto’s “Toronto/GTA Bicycle Route Mapping Wiki”

  • Now I go look at the study again – *after*I push the ‘Post Comment’ button, I see Huron was counted.

    Well, my larger point stands many of the not counted streets are good safe routes. Maitland, Earl and Charles on the eastern screen are favourite safe routes of mine. On the west side Baldwin and Darcey weren’t screened. Further south, Dundas Street is a cyclists’ hell – as is Queen – so small streets between them are a must for safe cycling; Bulwer, Phoebe (which goes through for cyclists but not cars) Sullivan, Grange.

    Spadina is a big block for cycling traffic since they put the in the LRT – so I see why they made that the west side of the screen, less points to cover – the only way through along there is Cameron which swings out to Spadina near Grange. From the curve at the top of Cameron you can get through the housing project all the way to Bathurst via Ryerson and Carr Street, and that gets you to Robinson – which gets you to Trinity Bellwoods Park. Just as fast as if you go on the main streets with traffic lights – not timed for bikes.

    mh

  • I’ve re-added a link to the PDF of the full report to the post again. The City was adjusting an error, so it was offline for a while.

  • Great news.

    I am really fond of my bike and I prefer it greatly to commuting by car, I get exercise and it’s much cheaper.

    But I have to agree with Michael here – Dundas Street is a hell – if I don’t have to, I don’t go there.

    Elli

  • Julian

    Late to the party, but your Helmet wearing figures doesn’t match the linked information.

    54% riders weren’t wearing a helmet, 46% were. That information is clear as day in both the linked full article and the summary.