Friday, 3 February 2012
Assiniboine Avenue Ice Path
|Iced-up Assiniboine Avenue Bike Path. |
Image Source: Photo by "the Analyst".
Given the rumblings over the supposed lack of usage of the Assiniboine Avenue Bike Path1, I'd just like to note that this factor is certainly depressing the count. The issue is the subject of my very first (and amateurish) youtube video.
How does snowed or iced in bike paths influence use? Let's turn to analyses of a of other cities:
Researchers from McGill’s Department of Civil Engineering and Applied Mechanics investigated winter ridership patterns in Montreal, Vancouver and Portland. They wanted to understand what factors influenced cycling levels in the colder months, and whether cities could do anything to improve cycling levels through winter.
The researchers found the number of Montrealers using bicycles for transportation throughout the winter months has markedly increased in the past few years, with hundreds of cyclists now using the most popular bike paths daily in winter.
Although winter ridership (levels) seems to be growing in cities like Montreal, they are still much lower than some European cities with similar weather. It seems like more conducive surface conditions through maintenance operations (snow clearance) would help increase Montreal’s cycling (rates) during winter,” the study concludes.
Naturally, a greater proportion of summer cyclists continue to ride through winter in the warmer cities, and precipitation and temperature affected cycling levels in all cities. But the researchers found that surface conditions were the key factor in ridership levels during winter in Montreal, even more important than temperature dips or precipitation.
“Montreal winter cyclists seem to react less to colder temperature (than those in Portland or Vancouver) ... Surface conditions is the main factor here,” said Luis Miranda-Moreno, an assistant professor who co-authored the winter cycling study with research assistant Christopher Kho.
To monitor patterns, the researchers installed automatic ridership counters along popular cycling routes on Berri St., de Maisonneuve Blvd. and St. Urbain St., and have been counting bicycle trips year round since 2008.
The counters indicated that depending on the route, 12 to 24 per cent of summer cyclists continued riding through the winter months of 2010 in Montreal. That’s up from 5 to 14 per cent in 2008.
“Cycling activity in the winter in Montreal is not negligible,” said Miranda-Moreno, who suggests the city has an obligation to provide safe conditions for cyclists year-round. “Many, many local streets have vehicle traffic that is lower than 500 or 1,000 cars a day and yet the city pays millions to clear these roads.”
...Montreal’s winter cyclists seem less affected by temperature changes during the winter season than those in Vancouver and Portland. A smaller percentage of Montreal cyclists were discouraged from winter cycling because of drops in temperature, or intense precipitation.
The big factor for Montrealers willing to cycle in winter seems to be not cold or precipitation, but road surface conditions.
“The surface condition is the main factor, and if we maintain good surface conditions throughout the winter we could improve these numbers dramatically,” said Miranda-Moreno.
He notes that European cities with similar winter weather to Montreal see cycling levels fall to only about 50 per cent of summer levels in winter.
“Cities can have four-season cycling. We don’t have to stop in winter. It doesn’t mean everybody wants to cycle in winter, but Sweden and Norway have very high retention of cycling rates in winter and we have similar weather.”
(Lalonde, Michelle. "Clear Montreal bike paths of snow and ice, study says". Montreal Gazette. Dec. 28, 2011.)
|More of the iced up Assiniboine Avenue Bike Path. |
Image Source: "The Analyst"
Clear it and they will come.
1 I really don't have all the details of the way various counts were conducted, but Hnatiuk's assertions still don't seem well articulated or substantiated. He hasn't referenced the primary sources of his claims of an underused path or articulated the figures or even linked to the reports in his recent exchanges with the commenter bwalzer on the matter. ↩