Why Canadians Cycle More Than Americans: A Comparative Analysis of Bicycling Trends and Policies

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

infrastructure - track, infrastructure - bus/tram lane, planning - route design, planning - safety/accidents, ridership - commuting, ridership - commuting, policy - parking, place - urban, mode - rail, mode - mass transit, mode - bike, mode - bike, mode - pedestrian


Work trips, Walking, Urban travel, United States, Trip length, Travel distance, Transit, Temperature, Public transit, Precipitation (Meteorology), Nonmotorized transportation, Multiple regression analysis, Mode share, Modal split, Mixed use development, Mass transit, Local transit, Journey to work, Joint occupancy of buildings, Government funding, Cyclists, Cycling paths, Cycling accidents, Cycling, Cycle tracks, Cities, Census, Canada, Bikeways, Bicyclists, Bicycling, Bicycles, Bicycle usage, Bicycle travel, Bicycle trails, Bicycle storage, Bicycle routes, Bicycle riders, Bicycle paths, Bicycle parking, Bicycle lanes, Bicycle lanes, Bicycle commuting, Bicycle accidents, Automobile use, Automobile usage, Automobile travel, Atmospheric precipitation


In spite of their colder climate, Canadians cycle about three times more than Americans. The main reasons for this difference are Canada's higher urban densities and mixed-use development, shorter trip distances, lower incomes, higher costs of owning, driving and parking a car, safer cycling conditions, and more extensive cycling infrastructure and training programs. Most of these factors result from differences between Canada and the United States in their transport and land-use policies, and not from intrinsic differences in history, culture or resource availability. That is good news, since it suggests the possibility of significantly increasing cycling levels in the United States by adopting some of the Canadian policies that have so effectively promoted cycling and enhanced its safety.


Transport Policy Home Page: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/0967070X