Can-BICS/ English

The Canadian Bikeway Comfort and Safety (Can-BICS) Classification System


Can-BICS uses the metrics of comfort and safety to establish a simplified and standardized naming convention for all bicycle facilities that can be used in public health research, surveillance, and cycling practice.

Cities use so many different names for the same bicycle facility — when we compiled bicycle infrastructure names used in open data from 44 Canadian municipalities and mapped them onto the Can-BICS nomenclature classification system, we found 269 unique facility names. This makes inter-city comparison of the type and quality of bicycle infrastructure incredibly difficult and labour intensive.

We developed Can-BICS — a classification system of five broad bicycle facilities assigned to three categories: high, medium, and low comfort, based on the facility’s contribution to user safety and comfort while cycling (see below).

We developed measures for bicycle infrastructure for all communities in Canada, at the neighbourhood level, using open data sources such as OpenStreetMap (OSM).

Our work will directly advance healthy cities intervention research by providing standardized metrics that can facilitate multi-city studies, and studies tracking change over time. These new measures will be fundamental for evaluating the impacts of future cycling-related policy and built environment interventions.


A. Created a map-based dataset of bicycle infrastructure in Canada with consistent nomenclature, using open data sources ( and apply high/medium/low comfort classifications.

B. Built spatial metrics for bicycle infrastructure for use in national surveillance efforts. To do this, we defined needs related to metrics from research, practice, and advocacy communities, developed a dataset with bicycle infrastructure for all communities in Canada, and validated our metrics against measures of the built environment and cycling behaviours.

C. Applied spatial metrics in equity analysis to understand the equity implications of existing bicycle infrastructure in Canadian communities.


A. Can-BICS facility typeCAN-BICS COMFORT TIERb. mapping canadian open data to can-bics
1. Cycle tracks
2. Local street bikeways
3. Bike paths
I. High Comfort Bikeways are low stress routes comfortable for most people, including those of all ages and abilities, with a record for best safety.23% related to high comfort routes (8% cycle tracks, 12% local street bikeways, and 3% bike paths)
4. Multi-use paths next to a roadway or along independent corridorsII. Medium Comfort Bikeways are low or medium stress routes comfortable for some people, but whose safety requires careful design.24% related to medium comfort routes
5. Painted bike lanes along busy roadwaysIII. Low Comfort Bikeways are high stress routes comfortable for few people, with little or no additional safety compared to no bicycle facility.
28% related to low comfort routes
26% were not considered a cycling facility in the Can-BICS system including 1) gravel trails, 2) major street shared lanes and 3) mixed traffic local streets.


Can-BICS Classification System

  • Report: The Canadian Bikeway Comfort and Safety (Can-BICS) Classification System:
    A Proposal for Developing Common Naming Conventions for Cycling Infrastructure, March 2019.
  • Can-BICS Cycling Infrastructure Classification Guide: Based on user feedback, the classification of cycling facilities may require guidance not published in the Can-BICS report. To this end, we developed supplementary guidance.
  • Poster: Presented at the Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting, Washington, DC, January 2020.
  • Publication: Winters, M., Zanotto, M., & Butler, G. (2020). The Canadian Bikeway Comfort and Safety (Can-BICS) Classification System: a common naming convention for cycling infrastructure. Health Promotion & Chronic Disease Prevention in Canada: Research, Policy & Practice40(9).
  • Federated Research Data Repository: Access open data and facility names.

Can-BICS National Data

  • StoryMaps: Learn more about our work mapping bicycle facilities across Canada.
  • GitHub: Code to classify OpenStreetMap data in Canada according to Can-BICS comfort and infrastructure type labels.
  • ArcGIS Online: National datasets are available here.


Current work has been funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (2020-2021) and the Public Health Agency of Canada (2020-2023). Co-Investigators include Dr. Kevin Manaugh (McGill University) and Dr. Trisalyn Nelson (University of California Santa Barbara). Development of the classification system was funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada and completed in 2019.