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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

  • 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.