Infographic: how cyclists will go out of their way to travel on comfortable bike lanes

Thanks to Iain Campbell for this great infographic "Two Wheeled Traffic, or why bike lanes work"! It shows the bike traffic volume relative to the size of the road. Thus a street like St. George has only two car lanes but carries many more cyclists than nearby Queen's Park/University with its 8 lanes. Iain's data came from the City's 2010 Bike Cordon Count, which counted bike traffic into and out of downtown over 24 hours.

Iain's infographic provides a strong visual of how bike lanes are a much stronger magnet for cyclists than the importance of a road for car traffic. It strongly suggests that people will go out of their way to travel on a more comfortable, less stressful street with bike lanes. This is why I believe that separated bike lanes on Richmond and/or Adelaide will be a big draw for people of all ages, shapes and sizes.


I totally agree. Sometimes i will go "way" out of my way to have a better and safer-feeling ride. In the past, commuting from High Park to Riverdale, despite Bloor/Danforth being a "straight shot", i would typically either snake through bloor/ossington/harbord/ (and head north up Logan), or just go all the way down to the lake, and skirt the "city" all together.

I would especially avoid Bloor in the "afternoon rush" when the mix of traffic includes more people that don't seem to know where they are going, people stopping in no-stopping zones, etc.

I know this in my gut to be true -- there's the feeling you get when you go from a road with no bike lane to one with a bike lane. It's a feeling of relief. A feeling that you made it and now you can ride a bit easier knowing (well, hoping) that a car is not barreling down on you. And for separated lanes this feeling is even greater, your stressful commute becomes a relaxing ride, the blood returns to your knuckles and you're no longer perched on your saddle like a cat coiled up to jump at the last minute.

I like having bike lanes, and will usually choose streets with them (Davenport is my favourite route from the Junction to downtown), but on the other hand, I love riding on the Danforth, even though it has no bike lanes at all.

So I think that infographic is skewed a bit. I don't think people are simply, all other elements being equal, affirmatively choosing bike lanes. While that is certainly an influence, there are other factors at work that are skewing the numbers.

1) St. George is the main drag for the downtown U of T campus.It's the destination for a lot of cyclists. I suspect that even before the bike lanes were put in, there would have been a lot more traffic there than any other north-south route downtown. (I doubt that we have the numbers to compare, sadly.)

2) It's not the number of lanes that makes University / Queen's Park less attractive, it's the dedicated streams of one way traffic on either side of the park, plus the "off ramps" at Hoskins and St. Joseph. These all combine to make it a more intimidating stream of traffic to integrate with. I'd be curious to see how much bike traffic there was south of College versus north of College.

(OK, I just checked the original data: all the counts for University are actually for Queen's Park from Bloor W. to Charles. There are no counts for University south of College at all.)

3) The presence of streetcars -- and their hazardous tracks, and the cars backed up behind them, and the intrusive parked cars in the curb lane -- confine slow cyclists to the door zone on much of Dundas, Queen and King. The confident, fast and expert cyclists must be able to maintain a high rate of speed and some smooth moves over the streetcar tracks as they take the center lane. If the curb lane wasn't taken up by parking, riding on these streets would be a medium-comfortable ride, similar to Dundas in the Junction at rush hour.

i don't think the point was that the number of lanes makes university/queen's park less attractive, i think the reason for including the number of lanes in the comparison is that you would expect larger streets with more lanes to carry more traffic generally.

i certainly go out of my way to take streets with bike lanes, or quiet side streets, instead of busy streets without dedicated lanes (or those with streetcar tracks, ugh).

i also think that positioning bike lanes is a useful way of directing cyclists to more bicycle-friendly routes. e.g., it might be more direct to head north on avenue road, but the traffic is heavy, the sun is hot, the hill is steep, and you're likely to get stuck at a red light halfway up. poplar plains on the other hand has less traffic, lots of shade, a gentler slope, and no stops till you get to the top of the hill. much better for cyclists generally, and the dedicated lane is a bonus.

Agree - always use quiet streets and back alleys, never cycle main arteries like Yonge St. or University Ave.

Definitely. Look at Sherbourne for a great example. I guesstimate that bikes dominate modal share now, at peak time periods.

Jarvis is another, I rarely see a cyclist on Jarvis of late.

Your point about positioning bike lanes is excellent. I have long believed that bike lanes themselves are not that helpful (parked cars, expectations of motorists,etc.) but they can be used to signal to cyclists that "this route is better". This means placing them on roads that are not as busy, or wider, so you would be better off riding there than elsewhere. Many bike lanes don't do that, they simply put a bike lane in an area where there is heavy cycle traffic.

In cases like that I often prefer roads without lanes. Someone above mentioned the Danforth, I used to live in Cabbagetown and I would often ride east on the Danforth, I found it perfectly safe and enjoyable.

College on the other hand I often avoid due to the density of cyclists all competing for bike lane space.



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