A quick look at what keeps Londoners from cycling more.
Yesterday morning we asked our Twitter followers if they rode their bikes as often as they'd like, and if they didn't, what were their barriers to getting on a bike more often. What was funny about the morning poll is that I didn't realize it that I wouldn't be able to choose a bike to get where I wanted to go in the afternoon. This week the shop is closing a bit early on Tuesday and Wednesday so I can update my Food Handling Certificate in advance of the coffee bar opening, so I was visiting the London Training Centre at 317 Adelaide St S for certification. In the middle of the afternoon I started to look at what route I was going to ride to get there, and turns out there wasn't a good one at all. I'd be required to ride on Commissioners Road, or on Adelaide Street, both of which are openly hostile streets for bikes and pedestrians.
Adelaide St looking south from Commissioners
Commissioners Road looking west from Adelaide
Google suggested the 4.4 km bike ride would take 16 minutes, driving would take 14-16 minutes during rush hour, while transit would take 27 minutes to get there, and 48 minutes to get home. I felt a little embarrassed to be honest, it's a short distance, one I'd normally ride in any circumstance, but the roads are incredibly unsafe in this area, and I'd be required to ride on the sidewalk for more than a kilometer, so I drove. I contributed to rush hour traffic, and left downtown at 4:30, driving a short distance to my evening course. Would cycletracks have helped me choose my bike to get there? You bet I would have rode 100% of the time.
Onto the informal survey results. It turns out that London is pretty typical compared to other North American cities. Lots of barriers to cycling, with no safe space to ride anywhere you want to go. I'm certainly not the only one who sees room for improvement. Our survey showed that more than 70% of respondents want to ride more often than they currently do. The 70% value is very similar to similar more professional surveys conducted across many North American cities, therefore despite the small sample size, I'd bet quite a few free tuneups that it's close to representative of London as a whole.
Here's the thread of our responses, lots of insightful comments. Thanks to all who participated!
Update 2022: Storify link no longer available for the Twitter conversation.