Green Milestone in Vancouver: Half of all trips now by bike, transit or on foot

Photo credit: Paul Krueger | Flickr

Photo credit: Paul Krueger | Flickr

Vancouver is officially a little greener this month. New stats released by city transportation officials show that, for the first time ever, nearly just as many trips are made by bike, transit or on foot as are made by car.

In 2014, a total of 918,000 daily trips were made by automobile, down from 983,000 the year before. That compares to 905,000 daily trips made by bike, transit or on foot in 2014, up from 893,000 the year before.

In other words, cars now only account for roughly half of all trips made in Vancouver – a major milestone in the city’s quest to become the world’s “greenest” city by 2020. At the same time, total kilometres travelled by vehicle has plummeted in recent years, down 21 percent since 2007.

Much of that progress can be attributed to a dramatic uptick in cycling. Since 2008, daily cycling trips in the city have doubled, from 50,000 to 100,000. Heavy investment in a city-wide system of bike lanes seems to have paid off as more and more travellers are leaving the car at home and getting around by bicycle.

Photo credit: Rikki / Julius Reque | Flickr

Photo credit: Rikki / Julius Reque | Flickr

Future plans call for more bike improvements along busy routes, including Commercial Drive and West 10th Avenue, while upgrades along Broadway, Main Street, and Burrard Street are also on the table.

A recent bike safety report also shows that Vancouver is among the safest cities on the continent for biking, ahead of peers like Portland, San Francisco and Montreal.  Yearly bicycle accidents in the city have held steady at 500 collisions per year, even as the number of riders has surged.

Photo credit: Paul Krueger | Flickr

Photo credit: Paul Krueger | Flickr

The one area in need of improvement, however, is transit use. Ridership on the city’s buses, SkyTrains and other transit has largely flatlined in recent years. City officials point to the fact that current infrastructure is maxed out and investment in upgrades – along the busy Broadway corridor, for instance – has been limited.  As a result, it’s unlikely that significant reductions in car use will continue into the future.

That situation could be turned around, however, depending on the outcome of Vancouver’s hotly contested transit referendum, voting for which ends on May 29.

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