A large body of research has focused on walkability, and there are popular online tools that allow individuals to calculate a “Walk Score” for neighbourhoods. However, there has been little effort to define and map “bikeability” even though determinants of walking and cycling are different. Given that cycling is an increasingly popular travel choice, we created a measure of bikeability, Bike Score, intended to be used as a transportation planning tool to allow cities and citizens to evaluate the bikeability of their neighborhoods.
Creating Bikeability Maps
We teamed with the Seattle-based company that developed Walk Score to create Bike Score. We based this score in part on our bikeability research and piloted in the Vancouver area. Environmental factors important to cyclists are used to calculate Bike Score:
- cycling infrastructure (separated bike lanes and bike paths, local street bikeways, painted bike lanes)
- topography (hilliness)
- desirable amenities (grocery stores, restaurants, schools, etc.) and road connectivity (both are components of Walk Score, which was used to capture these elements within Bike Score)
Bike Score is calculated for each location in a city, then mapped. The score can range from a low of 0 (deep red) to a high of 100 (dark green). By examining the “heat maps” of Bike Score for their city, municipal planners can locate neighbourhoods that are currently underserved and target them for improvements. The maps can be separated into their component parts (bike lanes, hills, destinations) to allow planners to determine which components contribute to a lower or higher score in a neighborhood. Individuals can use the maps to choose areas to live or cycle in.
In May 2013 Bike Score was extended to include 12 Canadian cities and ~ 150 US cities. The graph below shows data for the initial 10 Canadian cities (May 2012). In cities with a higher average Bike Score, more people cycle to work (2011 Census). Of the 10 Canadian cities, the highest average scores were for Victoria, Vancouver and Montreal, and these three also had the highest % of commute trips by bike (from 3.2 to 10.6% of trips). It is important to note that there is lots of room to improve; cycling in most Canadian cities (with average bike scores below 75) pales in comparison to cities in northern Europe with 10 to 40% of commute trips by bike.
[Publication]: Bike Score®: Associations between urban bikeability and cycling behavior in 24 cities
FUNDING & PARTNERS
This project was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research