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2019 is shaping up to be a critically important year for the cycling community to ensure that Perth becomes a bike-friendly city. With both the Road Safety Commission’s WA Road Safety Strategy and the Department of Transport’s CBD Transport Plan currently under review, in the coming months, the community will be asked to ‘have their say’ and we need to as many people who want to see Perth become a bike-friendly city to get involved.

Over the coming weeks, we will be featuring cities from around the world that have transformed into bike-friendly cities to inspire Western Australia and particularly the City of Perth to #InvestInCycling

Comparisons are often made between Perth and Vancouver in terms of their similar patterns of urban sprawl and population. However, in 1997 Vancouver made a bold decision not to increase further road capacity for cars, prioritising walking, cycling and public transport. Since this and updated plans, Vancouver, with a persistent community and ambitious government officials, now boasts an impressive cycling network cycling participation rates of over 10%

Key facts 

  • In 1997, Vancouver decided that there would be no increase in road capacity for cars into the city and prioritised walking, cycling, public transport, and goods movement before cars. This resulted in a 5% and 20% decrease in vehicles in the City and Downtown respectively despite an 18 and 75% increase in population.
  • Vancouver’s new, Transportation 2040 plan sets an ambitious goal that, by 2040, at least two-thirds of all trips will be back on foot, bike or transit.
  • Cycling participation increased from 6.6% in 2013 to 10.5% in 2016.
  • Coinciding with the construction of protected bike lanes, the proportion of women riding in Vancouver increase from 28% in 2010 to 39% in 2014.
  • By 2016, Vancouver was served by a network of over 311 lane-km of on- and off-road bicycle routes with 25% of its network, designed for all ages and abilities
  • Vancouver built its first downtown separated bike lane in 1996, on the Burrard Street Bridge. The bike lane was supposed to be a six-month trial however it was removed after a week. The city tried again to build a bike lane on the bridge in 2005, but failed. However, locals continued to advocate and finally, with a new mayor, Gregor Robertson, and a new majority on the City Council a permanent bike lane was built on the bridge in 2009.
  • The eventual success of the Burrard St Bridge protected bike lane was arguably the beginning of Vancouver’s cycling journey.

Key Project: Burrard Bridge (19)

  • After several failed attempts over the previous decade, on May 7, 2009, Vancouver City Council approved a bicycle lane trial on the Burrard Bridge which began on July 13. It saw the southbound motor-vehicle curb lane and the northbound-side sidewalk allocated to bicycles, with the southbound-side sidewalk allocated to pedestrians.
  • Two weeks into the trial, the City of Vancouver released a data report showing daily bicycle travel across the bridge had increased by an average of 30% with no change in motor vehicle travel times.
  • The Burrard Bridge was named the busiest cycling route in North America, clocking 1.13 million cyclists in 2017.