Evaluating Bikeway Criticisms

Victoria has ambitious targets to increase active travel (walking, bicycling and variants such as scooters and e-bikes), in order to help achieve many community goals. To do this the City is developing an All Ages and Abilities (AAA) bikeway network where active modes are prioritized over cars. Critics argue that this program is wasteful and unfair. This report examines these claims. Findings include: (1) Surveys indicate that many people want to bike more, but fear riding on busy streets. Previous experience shows that bikeways can significantly increase bicycle travel and reduce automobile traffic, and their costs are usually repaid many times over through vehicle and infrastructure savings, health and equity gains, plus environmental and economic benefits. (2) A significant and growing portion of Victoria residents bicycle. In 2017, 7% of total trips were by bike, with higher rates during peak periods and in the downtown area. Victoria has more adult bicycles than cars, over a quarter of residents bicycle at least occasionally, and more would do so if riding conditions improved. (3) Critics ignore the high costs that vehicle traffic imposes on urban neighborhoods and the large benefits provided by shifts to active modes. (4) Critics exaggerate negative impacts and ignore many potential benefits. Bikeways slow automobile travel far less than critics claim, and by shifting travel to active modes they reduce traffic problems and provide other benefits. (5) Critics are wrong to claim that Victoria’s bikeway investments are excessive and unfair. Bikeways use about 3% of road space, compared with 35% devoted to car parking and 38% devoted to arterial traffic lanes. Less than 7% of regional road spending and less than 2% of total road and parking spending is devoted to bicycle facilities.

  • Record URL:
  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Todd Litman © 2021. This report is updated periodically while the text remains available at the URL indicated above. The actual date of publication, pagination, and other features may differ from that indicated in this record.
  • Corporate Authors:

    Cities for Everyone

    Victoria, British Columbia  Canada 

    Victoria Transport Policy Institute

    Victoria, British Columbia  Canada 
  • Authors:
    • Litman, Todd
  • Publication Date: 2021-5-21


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Figures; Maps; Photos; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 19p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01776489
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jul 14 2021 1:43PM