Further to “Kelowna Leads in Number of Bike commuters”

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I spoke to Karen Cairns, from the City of Kelowna communications department regarding the claim that 1 in 7 Kelowna residents commute by bicycle. I also asked about the statement that Kelowna has 220 Km of bike lanes. Karen was very helpful and I certainly thank her for the information and assistance.

It turns out that Kelowna has approximately 110 km of roads with bike lanes on both sides. This isn’t exact as there are a few roads (Cross Rd. being an example) where there is a lane on one side only. Of course the 220 km figure sounds much better so that is what is used.

Karen could not give me a reference for the 1 in 7 number but advised that a study conducted at the beginning of May 2007 indicated that 8.6% of trips by Central Okanagan Regional District (CORD) residents were by bicycle. She provided me with enough information that I was able to locate the final report on the net.

The report is a bit lengthy but interesting, covering the methodology and also the results. You will find the .pdf file here:

synovate study

The study had respondents provide them with a diary of the number of trips taken by each member of the household along with data about the trip including the type of transport (transit, walking, cycling, automobile etc.). Based upon the results, the following points of interest showed up:

– (pg 23) – the average number of bicycles owned per household is 1.8 but goes up with number of people in the household – there is almost one bike per person in our area.

– (pg 39) – the greatest number of trips (well over 1/2) are taken by drivers, indicating that the single occupancy vehicle life style is alive and well in the Okanagan. Another category was passengers, allowing for this conclusion.

– (pg 35) – 2.1% of trips were by bicycle, 4.9% by walking, 0.1% by rollerblades and skateboards and 1.5% by transit. This is total trips for all purposes.

– (pg 39) – looking at total trips for work only, 2.9% of those trips were by bicycle.

– (pg 39) – looking at total trips for going to school, 4.1% of those trips are done by bike. (This is the highest percentage of all trips by bike, recognizing that many students do not have drivers licences.)

The trip diaries were completed in May 2007, a time of the year when the weather is usually warm and conducive to cycling. I suspect (but the study does not go into this) that the yearly average of trips by bicycle would be about 1/2 of the 2.1% mentioned in the study.

The study also covers age groups and modes of travel, the purpose of trips (eg. work, recreation, eating out) and a number of other items.

I have sent an email to Karen noting the above figures and asking if there is something that I have missed. Karen has since turned this over to the Demand Management dept. of the City to reply to me – I have had no response from them to date.

To date however it would appear that the City (and other jurisdictions in our area) have their work cut out to be more effective with the demand management of traffic on our highways and byways.Unless I have totally missed the boat, we are not a leader in the number of bike commuters and the City may wish to amend the “extremely optimistic” figures given in their recent “sustainability update 2008”.

Note 1: the above results are based upon number of trips, not distance traveled.

Note 2: CORD takes in the area from Lake Country to Peachland including the City of Kelowna.

John.

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