Study Highlights Over Half of Residents Agree There's Not Enough Dedicated Bike Lanes in Their City
Yet, Toronto Removes Bike Lanes on Jarvis Street This Week
TORONTO, Nov. 14, 2012 /CNW/ - How do Torontonians really feel about bike lanes? A recent study, conducted by Northstar Research Partners, uncovered that Torontonians think they are a great idea.
In fact, 80% of Torontonians agreed with the statement "dedicated bike lanes are a great idea". This contrasts sharply with Toronto City Council's decision last month to remove dedicated bike lanes on Jarvis Street. This week, workers have started removing bike lanes in each direction to re-introduce the fifth lane of vehicular traffic. The removal goes against the wishes of many vocal citizens, including a protestor arrested yesterday for blocking their removal; he insists that the cycling network needs to expand, not contract.
Compare this to when New York City's Mayor Bloomberg came to office; he started a shift in thinking that addressed many of the concerns of civic leaders regarding important economic, environmental, health and urban issues. He identified that these concerns could be, in part, addressed by making his city more bike-friendly.
Today, 52% of New Yorkers still agree that there are not enough dedicated bike lanes in the city, while 32% say there are just enough and 16% claim there are too many. Of those who say there are not enough dedicated bike lanes, 74% state they would be "more likely to ride their bicycle regularly if there were more dedicated bike lanes". Torontonians share these perceptions, with results among Toronto residents closely mirroring those of New Yorkers.
However, only one city is actually making progress in expanding their bicycling network. According to the City of Toronto, there are nearly 400 km of bike lanes and paths in the city and this figure has remained largely unchanged for a decade. This includes the new Sherbourne Street on-road separated bike lanes - a first for Toronto - which are due to open this month. Contrast this with New York City's fairly-new network, now at over 400 miles, or 650 km, and expanding rapidly.
Fewer than half (46%) of Torontonians agree that their city is bike friendly (similar to 49% of New Yorkers). Many Torontonians and New Yorkers strongly agree that there should be "more public investment in making the city more bike friendly" (59% and 51%, respectively). Further, more than half (55%) of Toronto residents believe that Toronto "focuses more on keeping motorists happy than cyclists," while 50% of New Yorkers also agree that their city does the same.
Though attitudes are fairly similar between the 2 cities, ridership differs significantly: in an average week, New Yorkers ride their bicycles on a more regular basis (46% ride at least three days a week versus 33% of Toronto residents). This is in-line with perceptions that, despite the much-publicized "War on the Car" during the last Toronto Mayoral election where suburban Rob Ford was voted into office, Torontonians are far more likely to feel that their city is geared towards cars, with the majority saying that driving is the easiest and fastest way to get around the city. New Yorkers, however, are more likely to see walking, cycling and public transit as the easiest and fastest ways to get around the city.
Clearly, there is a disconnect between what Torontonians want and what they're getting when it comes to bike lanes, and City Hall may want to take heed.
The findings of this study are based on a quantitative online study of 500 adult residents split evenly between Toronto and New York City who were asked about cycling policy in their city. The survey was conducted by Northstar Research Partners from Thursday, September 27 to Monday, October 1, 2012. The margin of error within each city is plus or minus 6.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
About Northstar Research Partners
Northstar, a member of the MDC Partners Network, is a leading global full-service market research and consulting firm, offering qualitative and quantitative studies plus consumer anthropology, with services across both consumer and business-to-business channels.
Northstar has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious Grand Ogilvy and Gold Prize at the 2011 Ogilvy Awards for the Domino's Pizza: Pizza Turnaround campaign. In 2007, Northstar was recognized globally by the Advertising Research Foundation's Ogilvy Awards for its work on the "Talk to Chuck" campaign for Charles Schwab.
SOURCE: Northstar Research Partners
For further information:
Jennifer Bylok at [email protected]
phone at 416.907.7100 x 264.