Improving Cycling Safety Study in the City of Vancouver

Author(s): Brian Patterson

Slidedeck Presentation Only (no paper submitted):

5C - Patterson


The City of Vancouver is one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in North America. It has an extensive bicycle network that is well used by residents and visitors, and has the highest cycling mode share among major Canadian cities, as cycling accounts for approximately 4.4% of all trips to work in the City.

The City recognizes the critical role that cycling can play in creating green and livable communities, and is committed toward making cycling safe, convenient, and comfortable for people of all ages and abilities. The City’s Transportation Plan, Transportation 2040, sets a target that two-thirds of all trips by 2040 will be made by walking, cycling or transit. Transportation 2040 also sets a target to work towards zero traffic related fatalities, and places a special emphasis on safety for vulnerable road users, including pedestrians and cyclists. One of the recommended actions in Transportation 2040 was the development of a city-wide Cycling Safety Study to provide a better understanding of cycling safety hotspots and concerns.

A wide range of engineering treatments can be used to improve cycling safety, such as protected bicycle lanes, buffered bicycle lanes, coloured conflict zone markings, protected bicycle signal phases, and bike boxes. In addition to engineering treatments, education and encouragement initiatives can help to raise awareness among bicycle users, pedestrians, and motorists about how to safely share the road and improve the behaviour of those driving and cycling.

The City of Vancouver recently developed a city-wide Cycling Safety Study which provides the City with critical information on key safety and design concerns within the bikeway network that, if addressed, can further position cycling as a safe, comfortable, and attractive transportation choice for people of all ages and abilities. The Cycling Safety Study provides a comprehensive and objective review of the safety of cycling in the City of Vancouver and provides an action plan to address each of the identified cycling safety issues.

This study involved an in-depth analysis of all collisions reported to the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) involving bicycle users and motor vehicles in the City of Vancouver between 2007 and 2012, as well as an analysis of injury data from bicycling injuries that resulted in treatment at a hospital emergency room in Vancouver in 2008 and 2009 from the Bicyclists’ Injuries and Cycling Environment (BICE) study conducted through the University of British Columbia Cycling and Cities program. Based on these datasets, the analysis examined WHERE cycling collisions took place, HOW the collisions occurred, WHEN they took place, and WHO was involved.

Based on the results of the analysis, the study identified the following twelve key cycling safety issues and developed a comprehensive action plan to address each of these issues and improve cycling safety in Vancouver.