University of British Columbia researchers are making bikeability research easily accessible to consumers and city planners by introducing bikeability “heat maps” in partnership with Seattle-based Walk Score® at www.walkscore.com/bike.
Combining data on availability of cycling infrastructure (bike lanes and trails), topography (hilliness), desirable destinations (attractions, shops and restaurants) and road connectivity, researchers from UBC’s School of Population and Public Health and Simon Fraser University worked with web developers from Walk Score® to develop algorithms to make the information easily accessible online.
Heat maps of Bike Score™ for 10 Canadian and 10 U.S. cities were launched today during National Bike Month in the U.S. and in advance of Bike Month in Canada. Victoria, Vancouver and Montreal rate highest in bikeability for Canadian cities; while Minneapolis, Portland and San Francisco lead in the U.S.
“‘Walkability’ has become part of the popular vocabulary as more emphasis is placed on physical activity, community interaction and healthy living,” says Meghan Winters, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University, who conducted the research while a PhD student at UBC. “Bike Score™ and the heat maps will help cities measure and improve their cycling infrastructure – a key to increasing ridership.”
Cycling rates in Canada and the U.S. are low in comparison to many European cities. This disparity is explained, in part, by differences in urban form and cycling infrastructure, says Mike Brauer, Professor, UBC School of Population and Public Health. With rising gas prices, however, more North Americans are looking for more affordable ways to get around, particularly in neighborhoods with limited access to public transportation and where distances are too far to walk to work or shopping.