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From a Trickle to a Stream: Achieving a Major Bike Mode Shift in Canada

26 June 2018


On Tuesday 26 June 2018, Dale Bracewell, Manager of Transportation Planning for the City of Vancouver, spoke to an enthusiastic audience on the achievement of a major mode shift to bike travel in Vancouver.

In the 1997 Vancouver Transportation Plan, the city decided that there would be no increase in road capacity for cars and that walking, cycling and transit would be prioritised; an active travel mode share target of 40% by 2008 was set. They achieved great progress following this plan which was updated in 2012 with even more ambitious targets – 66% walk, bike, transit by 2040. Their interim goal of 50% by 2020 was achieved by 2015.

By completing a protected bike lane network and implementing an Active Transportation Promotion & Enabling Plan, daily cycling trips in Vancouver have increased over 50% from 2013 to 2016. With its own All Ages & All Abilities Design Guidelines and by embracing a variety of public engagement strategies, cycling has increasingly become a mode for all in Vancouver.

Underpinning the 2040 transport plan are two key policy drivers: vision zero and prioritising the movement of people and Dale highlighted 3 key factors in their success:

  • Policy – driven by issues that are broader than just mobility, for example, safety, health, accessibility, housing affordability, liveability and environment.

  • Data – collect and love the data. For example, evidence on the time spent sitting and being sedentary can be used to demonstrate causal impacts on health and physical activity outcomes. Dale also stressed the importance of female participation rates as an indicator of achievement of all ages design. Collect data and use it as evidence of success and to justify future initiatives.

  • All ages and all abilities design – the end goal is for all Vancouver cycling infrastructure to be of this standard. However, they recognise that this can’t be achieved immediately so there is acceptance of interim measures that are not of this standard.


Dale also stressed the importance of high frequency mass transit as a game changer in shifting mode share away from private vehicles and he suggested that a minimum grid, strategic decision making and consultation with stakeholders were also important to building momentum.

It was inspiring to hear from Dale what could be achieved with the political will and a clear strategic vision and most people in the room probably wished that Brisbane was a lot more like Vancouver.

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