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Cyclist demand could help improve infrastructure

A strong turnout for Vancouver's Bike to Work Week could lead to a push for improved cycling infrastructure around the city.

“More people cycling creates a demand for systems to accommodate cycling,” said Tim McDaniels, a professor at UBC's School of Community and Regional Planning.

Hundreds of riders have taken advantage of Bike to Work Week's free food and bike maintenance offered by organizers, said program director Erin O’Melinn.

“Our numbers are at least equal to last year, if not better.”

In addition to benefits such as reduced fossil fuels and decreased noise, McDaniels said increased cycling could go a long way to reduce traffic congestion.

“It is quite possible for cycling to play a much larger role than it does in commuting.”

Events such as Bike to Work Week are important because they raise awareness about transit alternatives, said Andrew Devlin, a graduate student at the UBC Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability.

The daily commute is the most consistent cause of greenhouse gas emissions in Vancouver, he said.

“Substituting our cars with a bike for this trip then has big potential for helping reduce our daily travel emissions.”

Vancouver currently trails behind a number of similar-sized cities in terms of the number of people cycling to work.

Only two per cent of Metro Vancouver residents ride bicycles for their commute compared to 35 per cent in Copenhagen, Denmark, Devlin said, attributing at least some of this difference to government investment.

“Copenhagen injects millions of dollars annually into building a good network of cycling infrastructure to make it easier for people to use their bikes to get around,” he said.

“Vancouver has enough problems trying to get one cycling lane on the Burrard Bridge.”

Morgan J. Modjeski reports for The Tyee.

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