Winnipeg makes top 10 for cycling cities

via Winnipeg Free Press

Ask a random Canadian about Winnipeg’s reputation, and they’re more likely to mention the cold or crime than cycling. But new rankings from online real estate brokerage Redfin put Winnipeg squarely in the Top 10 Canadian cities for biking, tied with Toronto and Richmond, B.C.

The rankings don’t qualify Winnipeg as a "biker’s paradise" (for cities with a score of 90 and above) or even "very bikeable" (70 to 89 points). But Winnipeg’s 61-point score earns a modest "bikeable" status in Redfin’s view, a category for cities with "some bike infrastructure."

Redfin’s bike-score ratings are similar to its proprietary walk scores and transit scores, which are often mentioned on real estate listings. (The company acquired Walk Score in 2014. Winnipeg’s average Walk Score is just 53, while Toronto has a Walk Score of 71.) The company’s inaugural Canadian bike-friendliness ranking covered roughly 100 cities, Redfin’s lead economist, Taylor Marr, said.

"We know from our years of experience that people really value walkability. They also values being close to transit increasingly... But also people really value bikeability, not only for the health benefits but also for the cost savings," said Marr, who commutes by bike in his home city of Seattle.

The bike-score rankings evaluated cities across four criteria — topography, cycling infrastructure such as bike lanes, the number of bikeable destinations and the share of the population that commutes by bicycle.

Liz Shearer, co-chairwoman of cycling advocacy group Bike Winnipeg, said bike ridership is on the increase in Winnipeg, "and as infrastructure is built, so is ridership... When people feel safer, they ride more often, which shouldn’t come as a surprise."

But Winnipeg’s lack of a fully connected cycling grid keeps Manitoba’s capital from being a true leader in bikeability, she said.

Shearer is concerned about the future of the 20-year active transportation strategy Winnipeg passed in 2015, saying the plan is being underfunded by the city.

"We’ve gotten international recognition for this cycling and pedestrian plan, but words without action is just a dream," Shearer said. "So if we’re not enacting and funding this type of plan properly, we’ll never reach its full potential."

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