The Bicycle Budget: Vélo Canada Bikes submits 2021 Federal Budget recommendations

Support for a country where bikes are booming and where the transport options have shifted dramatically… A special emphasis on quickly building the bike paths people need to feel safe, healthy and connected…. A call to embrace and incentivize innovative solutions for unprecedented times, including making electric-assisted mobility more affordable to make the most of existing infrastructure we have… A call to use COVID-19 as a chance to be ready for the next crisis – the climate one… READ our 2021 budget submission for some great ideas for a better Canada.

The key to shovel worthy investment – cycling infrastructure and post-COVID Canada

COVID 19 has raised awareness and need for cycling infrastructure in our communities. The need has always been there, but the follow through has been lacking. After March 2020, it suddenly became critical everywhere. Bicycle networks has become one of the world’s next big public works project. Those who already had them thanked the foresight of the past. Those without, scrambled.

In early April 2020, we reviewed our older infrastructure proposal designed to scale up bike networks across the country. This was used as the basis for a national level COVID emergency mobility and investment recommendation. We checked the numbers and added post-pandemic urgency to help roll it out quickly. We shared it with Canada’s lead on active transportation planning, Parliamentary Secretary for Infrastructure and Communities Andy Fillmore.

Read the 2020 letter outlining our recommended infrastructure response

This plan is without a discernible downside. It is something that should excite every Canadian of every age. It offers us all a glimpse of hope in a difficult time and builds on the community responses we are already seeing.

“It is the least destructive investment Canada can make. Anywhere. You can go to the mountains in BC. You can go to the La Cloche mountains that I see almost everyday when I am out on my ride. You can go to The Plains…. It is the least detrimental to the environment and leaves it to the next generation to follow and use.”

-Josh Shaw, Wikwemikong Unceded Territory, speaking at the 2017 National Bike Summit about seven generations thinking and cycling infrastructure investment.

Never underestimate the power of the bicycle to change the future of a country.

The Oil Shocks of the 1970’s presented countries with a choice. Countries becoming more dependent on oil were offered two distinct paths forward. One based substantially on healthy local trips and communities built at a personal and human scale. The other based on burning fossil fuels, heralding grand visions of modernity but would ultimately usher in a congestion-prone future for cities.

Some countries, the Netherlands being the most well-known example, redoubled efforts to support healthy modes. Bolstered by growing distaste for traffic injury and impacts on children’s freedom of mobility, the chose to embrace the bicycle. It’s paid off.

Their choice led to a diversified, efficient, and resilient multi-modal transport landscape with low traffic injury rates, low levels of chronic disease, and mobility rankings that are the envy of economists, planners, health practitioners everywhere.

The US had a plan to build 100,000 miles of bikeways. But it chose not to. Canada followed their lead. This ultimately contributed to drastic changes in our cities and many of the biggest health and environmental challenges we now face.

But people’s thinking has evolved on how cities ought to be built. The shine is off car culture. Road users of all kinds want change. They want options and choice. Vélo Canada Bikes led a joint effort with partners at the CAA and the Heart and Stroke Foundation and other national organizations to refresh and expand a proposal seeking major investments in active transportation infrastructure.

We proposed a $2.1 Billion active transportation investment over 3 years, spearheaded by the Government of Canada and matched by all other orders of government. The goal was to provide momentum to existing plans and scale up the best examples in every province and territory. Communities large and small had networks in the plans to build and most still remain to be built. Our joint 2016 proposal would have led to a leap forward in independent mobility, on a national scale. Despite initial enthusiasm, shifting political landscapes at home affected decisions, and programs fell short of being the catalyst needed.

Now in 2020, Canada finds itself facing a challenge even bigger than the 50 year old energy crisis. The coronavirus crisis and it’s impact on mobility of such a global magnitude was not imagined just 4 years ago. Now, the need for multi-pronged solutions with high return on investment and clearly supports mental and physical health has never been greater.

Canadian Cities Open Streets for Active Transportation

Warmer weather means more and more people are looking to get outside for fresh air and exercise. On top of that, COVID-19 cabin fever is setting in. With more people out walking and cycling, physical distancing is increasingly a challenge.

In response, cities across Canada are re-balancing their streets. A decrease in car traffic and the increase in active transportation has opened up a great opportunity to dedicate more space for people, rather than cars.

The response so far has been disabling beg buttons (crosswalk request buttons), closing some driving and parking lanes, and in some cases, full street closures. This will continue to be adjusted as the spring progresses.

Vélo Canada Bikes is tracking the responses across Canada. If your community is opening up streets for people, let us know!

Check out the updated data here: BikePed COVID Response

A Message for Bicycle Shops in Canada about Cycling and COVID-19

Updated April 15, 2020

We hope that, during this period of significant change and far-ranging impacts to personal and professional life, you, your colleagues and each of your families are coping with these challenging times and keeping well, mentally and physically. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has left many bike retailers wondering what to do. The purpose of this post is to offer some helpful information. Below you will find information on what we are doing, as well as some helpful resources from others.

In response to COVID-19, Vélo Canada Bikes is: 

  • First and foremost, like most national organizations, we are supporting and sharing the key messages from the Public Health Agency of Canada. That includes urging everyone to stay tuned to the latest information from their relevant local public health authorities and act accordingly.

    The initial message from our government (as of the writing o the article on March 25th) has been clear: stay home; avoid unnecessary movement in your community.
  • We are also reminding everyone that cycling is typically among the healthiest and most efficient forms of independent transportation and that 100000s of Canadians rely on bicycles every day. There are significant public health considerations to consider among the other alternatives available to us, especially driving a car. Therefore, for those who must move within their community, whether it is a doctor or airline pilot, or a non-symptomatic person making a weekly trip to the grocery store for their family, we share the view that cycling is a healthy way for Canadians and their community to move that should be supported and promoted.

    In preparation for challenging times ahead, we are also working on other short and long term solutions by:
  • We are working with partners to share the message that bike shops are essential workplaces, and should be designated as such by health authorities/provincial governments, thereby allowing those shops who wish to be open do so. We feel that bike shops should be viewed similarly to gas stations, car mechanics, grocery stores, airlines, pharmacies, and other businesses that provide an important and valuable public service and whose operations are often exempted from government recommendations to shut down completely. This position aligns with the European Cyclists Federation , the Confederation of European Bicycle Industry, People for Bikes in the US, the Province of Ontario and many of our members

    **March 25 note: As a matter of priority, we are currently working with partners like Velo Quebec and industry members based in Quebec to seek clarification on their recently released list of exempted business types.

    For IBDs in other provinces. Local health authorities may be giving consideration to further lockdowns and closures, if you feel bike shops should be include in the list of essential workplaces near you, it may be worth a proactive step of making a note to your local MLA or MPP to avoid confusion in the future.

    Please note: being designated an essential workplace does NOT mean you must stay open. We support the right of workers and businesses to choose carefully and to decide what is best and to take what they feel are the necessary precautions. We speak for Canadians everywhere by saying we deeply appreciate you in these difficult times.
  • urging for the rapid deployment temporary/permanent protected bike lane networks to fill gaps in Canada cities and allow for safe social distancing while cycling. We believe the public has a right to safely navigate their community at all times. In times of emergency, the bicycle has an extra benefit of offering a reliable foundation of independent mobility when other forms become disrupted. We feel that this strategy could be a cost effective and healthy way of offering safe transport alternatives to people whose public transport systems are operating at reduced capacity, for example. We feel cycling offers a chance to take pressure off of families, and better connectivity means better access to parks and open spaces and room for children to play. Fostering mode shift is also a long term opportunity to reduce the air pollution that contributes to chronic lung diseases which are known risk factors for COVID-19
  • offering opportunities for bicycle retailers to come together as a community to discuss the challenges they are facing and share strategies and ideas. Watch this space for information about the next facilitated, online gathering of independent bicycle dealers and industry allies.
  • finding and sharing resources and news you may find of use. See below

Support and Resources for Businesses: 

  • Business Development Centre Free online webinar

How to cope with the impacts of COVID-19 on your business March 25, 2020 12:00 p.m. (EDT)

Recent Related News:

Changes to small business loan program announced and more businesses are eligible. CBC article.

Ontario, BC, Alberta allow bike shops to remain open. Canadian Cyclist article.

Bike shops in Quebec can fill out this form for to be excused mandatory closure. (Meanwhile, we are still working with allies to update the general prohibition.)

Manitoba is the latest province to mandate COVID-19 closures but deem bike shops critical. See the list.

Statement from the Confederation of European Bicycle Industry

Province of Ontario adds bicycle repair to list of essential workplaces Province of Ontario

Bicycle Shops Can Stay Open During Covid-19 Lockdown, Says U.K. Government Forbes Magazine

Will Canadian bike shops stay open during lockdown Cycling Magazine

Breaking down Ottawa’s $82-billion economic response plan for COVID-19 The Logic article March 18,2020

What Employers should know during the Coronavirus pandemic CTV article March 16, 2020 

This week 500000 canadians applied for ei, heres how you can do the same The Financial Post, March 21, 2020

Need to Get Around in a Pandemic? Ride a Bike. Outside Online March 18, 2020

On March 11, 2020 the Government of Canada announced a rare bit of very good news. After years of advocacy on our part, Canada’s Parliamentary Secretary for Infrastructure, Andy Fillmore, announced that he has been tasked with leading the development of a national active transportation strategy on behalf of his Minister. Now more than ever people need bicycles and we will continue to support the development of a national cycling strategy in Canada. 

ABOUT CANADA BIKES As your national cycling advocacy organization, Vélo Canada Bikes, we are doing everything we can to support the growth and health of both cycling in Canada and the Canadian bicycle industry. We have been pushing the government for a bike-friendly Canada since 2012. Our tune hasn’t and won’t change. Bicycles offer a form of resiliency both personal and societal that other forms of transportation do not.

Velo Canada Bikes

Election 2019 Platform Analysis – Cycling

Party platform analysis

Bicycle power matters. In the eyes of our members, and in the eyes of millions of Canadians who ride already and would like to more often, there is no question that bicycle policy deserves a leading role in any nation’s plans for transportation, health and climate change.


Based on our analysis, it is clear that the Jagmeet Singh’s NDP party is the one party most sympathetic to bicycle policy at the national level. Indications of this were felt early, as Mr.Singh notably campaigned for the NDP leadership on a bicycle and parliamentary cycling caucus co-chair MP Gord Johns (Port Alberni) sponsored Bill C-312 a private members bill calling for a cycling strategy. Grand total for the NDP was 55 our of a total 100 available points.

Honourable mention goes to the Green Party. Although it was not explicit in supporting a national cycling strategy in its platform yet, its inclusion of a $100M annual fund for active transportation infrastructure is enough to help it garner 16 out of the 100 available points.

Unfortunately for the remaining four parties we assessed, their party platforms were either too vague or indeterminate on the subject of cycling to warrant points being awarded. Of course, we will continue to work with everyone to move cycling issues forward. Meanwhile, we urge all voters to make up their own minds and dive into the party platforms and decide for yourself. Individual candidates matter, as do local issues, take your MP or you candidate for a bike ride, write them an email, ask them for yourself!


Vélo Canada Bikes is non-partisan and believes strongly in the power of the bicycle to make a difference in everyone’s lives. On October 15th, we completed an analysis of all of the party platforms that had been shared publicly. Our goal was to see whether not our key messages had been sinking in, and offer our members and partners useful information when deciding who to vote for.

Our key messages have been clear. Vélo Canada Bikes, together with our member organizations and like-minded organizations across Canada, have long had two foundational and specific asks from the federal government: a national cycling strategy and a fund dedicated to active transportation infrastructure. To make sure Canada does both, we develop policy, we organize major events, we run programs, we build partnerships and we hold meetings with elected officials at all levels. We do that in Ottawa and in locales across the country, for you and with you.

The simple scoring system is designed to reflect whether or not each party has listened to these two important requests and incorporated them formally into their platform as we head into the election. Bonus points are awarded for using the words bicycle or active transportation anywhere in their platform – an important signal that their party is aware of how crucial our work is.

All parties were given a brief period to review the assessment and offer a rebuttal or any missing information. 

The results of our analysis and an explanation of the simple scoring system are below.

*a specific fund, for active transportation projects available to communities of any size, regardless of their level of mass transit infrastructure, designed to hasten the development of cycling path networks and other facilities across Canada (see full proposal) developed by VCB, Heart and Stroke, CAA, Share the Road, Canadian Cancer Society, Velo Quebec, et al (100/694*40)

**based on the Green Party’s platform costing document’s $100M/yr commitment. The score is based on $100M as a percentage of $694M/yr national walking and cycling infrastructure proposal or 0.14*45=6.48pts

MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIR: Brian Pincott Announced as Interim Executive Director

Read as PDF

September 25, 2019

Dear members, supporters and friends,

It is with extreme pleasure that I am letting you know that Velo Canada Bikes has hired Brian Pincott as our Interim Executive Director, starting right away. Brian will be with us as ED for the next 6 months to help map the future of VCB.

Brian brings a wealth of experience to the work, as well as a strong commitment to our shared vision. He was a City Councillor at the City of Calgary from 2007 to 2017. In that time, he championed cycling as a transportation option for the city. His work culminated with the installation of the downtown Cycle Track Network in 2015. In his work as City Councillor, he served on the Board of Directors of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. In his work with FCM, he has been on Parliament Hill many times, navigating the ins and outs of the politics of The Hill. His work at FCM was mostly focused on developing a National Housing Strategy, which the Federal government announced in November 2017. Since leaving City Hall in the fall of 2017, he has moved to Winnipeg to be with his partner, a professor at the University of Manitoba. 

We are at an exciting time at VCB, as we chart our way to building on our amazing success in our short existence. VCB has raised awareness of the need for a comprehensive approach to cycling as a viable transportation choice for citizens. With the increased urgency around climate change, VCB is positioned to be able to respond quickly to offer transportation solutions and options to all orders of government.  We look forward to working with Brian over the next several months to build VCB into a sustainable organization and ensure that VCB is the national go-to voice for cycling as transportation. Many of you will be hearing from Brian directly in the coming days and months. 


Anders Swanson, Chair

Annual General Meeting 2019

Our AGM is coming up on September 28th. Here is everything you need to know. Thanks for being part of the Vélo Canada Bikes family and for your interest in the work we do.

When: Saturday, September 28, 2019 5:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Who: Everyone is welcome to attend! Note: only members can vote. We appreciate every single member. To check your membership status, contact us at

RSVPs appreciated: please email to let us know. If you are representing a membership organization, let us know!

What to expect: Join us for a special guest presentation by Tony Arnold (Sydney, AUS) stay for the formalities and meet new people! Agenda is below.
1. Call to Order
2. Special Guest (Tony Arnold)
3. Report from the Chair
4. Financial Report
5. Nominations
6. 2-minute updates from across Canada
7. Election Results
8. AGM Adjournment

You can review the minutes from the 2018 Vélo Canada Bikes Annual General Meeting.

On a computer? Use this Zoom Meeting link to join the meeting.

On a phone?

Dial by your location
        +1 647 558 0588 Canada
        +61 8 7150 1149 Australia
        +61 2 8015 6011 Australia
        +31 20 794 0854 Netherlands
        +31 20 241 0288 Netherlands
        +1 720 707 2699 US (Denver)
        +1 646 558 8656 US (New York)
Meeting ID: 825 075 573
Find your local number:

Other information: We accept nominations to the Board of Directors from the floor and in advance. If you are interested in nominating someone or joining the board, contact for more information. Nominees expressing interest in joining the board prior to the AGM will be updated here, so check back often! You must be in “virtual” attendence to vote or stand as a nominee.

Canadidates for 2019-2021 Vélo Canada Bikes Board

Kathy Manners – ON Social Innovation consultant and owner, Pedal People

Kathy is a results-oriented, values-based community leader and entrepreneur with a passion for innovation. She has worked in both the private sector at 3M Canada and public sector with the Ontario Public Service, along with contributing extensively in the non-profit environment.

Kathy has extensive experience in Strategic Planning, Organizational Development and Marketing/Communications and is one of a handful of Canadians who have completed graduate work in social innovation. 

Kathy was the chair of the board of the The Sharing Place Food Bank, Community impact chair and board member for the United Way, chair of the Patient Advisory Council for Soldiers Memorial Hospital and board member for two international boards that support social impact in Guatemala and Burma, in addition to other volunteer experiences. 

In 2018, Kathy and her cycling pals rode for 82 days and 4802kms from Victoria BC to St. John’s NFLD to experience all that is Canadian. When she returned, she created Pedal People, an urban cycling fashion line with the vision to bring beauty to the bike.

Doug Hoover – ON Criminal Lawyer, Federal Department of Justice

Doug is a practicing lawyer and started his career working as a legislative assistant for Ged Baldwin, a federal member of parliament from 1979 to 1983. Doug then became the Director of Government Affairs for Sulpetro Limited and then the Special Assistant, Hon Tom Siddon, Minister of Indian Affairs. In 1993, he opened his own law practice in Ottawa and focused on criminal and human rights law. Prior to 2000, Doug was also a political volunteer and worked with the Rt Hon Joe Clark (1985 – 1990); the Hon Harvie Andre (1988); and the Indian Association of Alberta (1989-1992).

Since 2000, Doug has been the Counsel to the Attorney General of Canada, in the Department of Justice, Criminal Law Policy Section. In this role he has developed complex policy and legislative options for federal senior Ministers to adopt and present to Cabinet and Parliament. This experience has given Doug unique capabilities to identify how best to develop, present and market policy options that would achieve improvements in the lives, not only of cyclists, but of every Canadian.

Doug is also the president of Justbike/Justebike (2008-present) and has been a year-round commuter cyclist and competitive cyclist for the past 40 years.

Sam Starr – BC Engineer, Cargo Bike & Cycling Logistics Consultant

Sam is the founder of Critical-Mobility, a Vancouver-based business with a mission to advance the use of cargo bikes and cycling logistics systems across North America. A recent graduate of the Master of Engineering Leadership program in Urban Systems at the University of British Columbia, Sam is passionate about sustainable cities and mobility solutions. Sam holds two other degrees, in electrical and Systems Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania.

Sam spent 12 years designing, engineering, and implementing solutions in the supply chain and logistics industry, with companies from FedEx to U.S. Pack, to global 3PLs, integrators, and service logistics providers. He has focused on global logistics as well as final mile delivery, and understands supply chain needs, including in the service industry.

Based in Vancouver BC, with a personal passion for cycling, Sam’s work experiences, interests, and passion have led him to pivot into accelerating the adoption of e-bikes, cargo bikes and cycling logistics. Sam feels that cycle logistics is the solution to urban freight issues in cities and that we need to align policy makers and planners to make this vision a reality.

Board Members Seeking Another Term

Darnel Harris ON
Dea Van Lierop QC / Netherlands
Kimberley Nelson AB
Fiona Walsh BC
Tegan Moss ON
Richard Campbell BC

To learn more about existing members, visit Board of Directors.

We hope to see you there!

Join the call for federal leadership on active transportation

Champions of active transportation across the country have issued a fresh call for federal leadership in making Canada a great place for everyday walking, cycling, and other forms of active transportation. (See the letter, signed by 23 prominent organizations.)

The call for federal action is prompted by two exciting developments:

  • publication of an October 2018 report by a committee of the Council of Ministers Responsible for Transportation and Highway Safety. (See COMT report.)
  • a call for federal leadership on active transportation in a near-unanimous resolution by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, June 2018. (See FCM resolution.)

Act now

Supporters are asked to join our call by taking a moment to write to the federal transport minister Hon. Marc Garneau asking for action. Tell him why it is important to you. We encourage you to cc your provincial transport minister, your MP, your MLA and your local municipal/band council member. To keep us in the loop, cc Clifford Maynes and Anders Swanson


In 2018, the Council of Ministers Responsible for Transportation and Highway Safety (COMT) released a report titled Active Transportation: A Survey of Policies, Programs and Experience.

COMT is a national level body that coordinates research and policy development among federal and provincial transportation authorities. The council includes every provincial minister, deputy minister and their colleagues at Transport Canada.

The October report was informed by a questionnaire answered by “44 respondents, representing one federal government department, 14 municipalities, 6 non-government organizations (NGO), 20 provincial and territorial government departments, and three transit service providers.”

You can read the full report here.

It identifies common barriers to active transportation and describes the patchwork of programs and policies enacted across the country. In its “Observations and Conclusions”, the report looks at each government level and notes that “consideration could be given to whether there is a role for the federal government to provide additional leadership, policy, programming and/or financial support to provincial and territorial jurisdictions in support of active transportation initiatives.”

We certainly think so.

Knowing what a coordinated approach to active transportation will do for Canada, we know there is an important role.

What is and what could be the federal role in active transportation?

The extent of the federal government’s involvement in active transportation is something it is free to define. For example, local governments implement local infrastructure but often with funding support from other levels, with provincial and federal agencies involved in projects and areas that fall within their mandate and interest. Examples of federal government involvement in active transportation over the last few decades can be found across Canada in everything from services and programs to bridges with bike lanes.

However, while the federal role in motor vehicle is quite clearly understood by most people, the lack of coordinated effort and oversight of active transportation is clear.

The stakes are high.

Currently, the Government of Canada sets major infrastructure funding priorities (see P.T.I.F. for example) and signs international agreements (see the Paris Agreement) whose outcomes and effectiveness are directly affected by how well we manage active transportation.

The mandates of numerous departments and agencies within the federal government clearly show that we could/would benefit immensely from increased active transportation focus.

We know much more about what we should be doing than we actually do, however. This 2017 report by our Chief Public Health Officer, entitled “Designing Healthy Living” is just one obvious example of the potential payoff and importance. Transport Canada, through the first ever Vulnerable Road Users Task Force, recently studied road safety for cycling and walking and identified a long list of countermeasures that need to be acted on in its summary report.

We are just getting started. Consider this: as the largest single employer in Canada, the federal government itself would greatly benefit from a strategy intended to get its own employees safely to work using bicycles or other modes of sustainable transportation. Making it happen requires a multi-billion dollar investment in safe infrastructure and collaboration with all levels of government. But it would be worth it. That investment has a return. he productivity benefits – based on abundant research about the impact on sick days, mental health and personal finances – mean that an internal active transportation strategy alone would have an impact on every thing the federal government does.

That’s why large, national-level research and policy development organizations whose work includes the struggle to contain chronic disease or advocating for reduced trauma and road violence believe a large, dedicate fund just for active transportation projects is in the national interest and that it is something we can easily afford.

And yet we lack clear direction at the federal level. Canada does not have a ministerial mandate letters that clearly state who is responsible for active transportation. Canada does not have a coordinated national effort to advance active transportation or national targets for biking or walking mode share. We do not even clearly know how many children bike to school – nor are we capable of coordinated policies and programs to do something about it. As a result, we lag far behind peer countries in the number of people who walk to school, ride bicycles for transportation and the level of death and injury they face per km of travel.

To see what municipalities across Canada are asking for, see this important motion passed by FCM Council in June 2018 calling for federal leadership describes a specific set of actions to take.

Have a look at the Vélo Canada Bikes position paper on the federal role in cycling .

Finally, to see what is happening around the world, have a look at this listing of countries with a national cycling strategies.

Gender Equity and Cycling in Canada: Background information and Literature Summary

Gender Equity and Cycling in Canada: Background information and Literature Summary

Download as PDF (0.2Mb)


When a country isn’t bike friendly, women are the first to be left behind. Cycling presents a unique opportunity to address a range of economic and practical disadvantages acutely felt by women in society. There is, therefore, an urgent need to make cycling more practical and accessible in Canada – especially for women and girls.

Transportation is currently the top  barrier to education and employment for women. Women are more likely to run errands before/after work. Overall, their travel patterns vary considerably from those of men. As a result, they struggle to integrate within transportation systems planned by men which focus on rush hour trips. Conflicting schedule pattens mean that women are disproportionately affected by seemingly minor details experienced by men: this includes lack of public transport availability at off peak hours and a lack of provision of infrastructure in both suburban and urban areas for modes of travel that require frequent short trips. Men are more likely to drive straight to a single destination while women tend to make more trips with brief stops where additional time lost to parking is relatively inconvenient. The economic and time pressure felt by women is compounded by the fact that women tend to make less money per hour while they are working. Women and girls are also less likely to meet the recommended amounts of physical activity than men and boys due to lower levels of participation in organized sports and other factors, making the moderate physical activity that would arise from the everyday physical activity of cycling disproportionately important for both personal and public health reasons.

All of these factors combine to increase the practicality, desirability and impact of a cost effective and efficient independent transportation solution ideal for medium range distances (1-7km) with little to no operating costs or wasted time from parking. Such functionality is uniquely embodied by bicycles and cargo bikes alone.

This likely explains why, in countries with similar climates that have created the circumstances conducive to safe, convenient and comfortable everyday practical cycling, cycling rates for women are many times higher then we find here, to the point where women outnumber men. In Canada, even though a bicycle would be particularly advantageous for them, women tend not to ride – especially in dense urban neighbourhoods where it would be most practical and where it would offer the most potential to achieve overarching government priorities such as greenhouse gas emission abatement and poverty reduction through increased accessibility.

The solution is almost certainly the provision of safe and comfortable infrastructure.

Women’s perceptions of cycling have additional effects on other demographics since women act as major influencers on those around them. For example, women’s current perception of cycling in general is almost certainly devaluing the bicycle tourism industry in Canada, since women are overwhelmingly the arbiter of a family’s tourism spending and make key travel habit choices during leisure times. The ingrained perceptions of women are also likely having an effect on the intergenerational transmission of transportation habits since women tend to spend more time with younger children and have more influence on large household purchasing decisions (such as automobiles or a housing). Other factors, such as a lack of representation in culture and in the bicycle industry are ancillary compounding factors to be addressed.

VCB calls upon the Government of Canada to invest in cycling to promote gender equity. One way to do this is to support our call for a National Cycling Strategy and dedicated infrastructure funds to support cycling.

Government of Canada sources:

“Wage gap continues – women earn about 80% of men’s full-time, full year wages.”
( Status of Women Canada 2015–16 Departmental Performance Report  – Source )

“On transportation, Canadian households spent an average of $11,909 in 2016, almost the same as 2015. The largest portion ($10,660) went toward private transportation, which includes spending on the purchase of cars, trucks and vans, as well as their operating costs.”  ( Survey of Household Spending, 2016 – Source )

Males were more likely than females to have cycled in the past year (46% versus 34%), regardless of age, income or education. Males residing in population centres were more likely than those in rural areas to cycle; the opposite was true for females, who were more likely than males to report excessive traffic as a barrier to cycling.” (Cycling in Canada – Statistics Canada – Source )

Older senior women are most likely to be limited in their day-to-day travel, either because they are passengers who have no driver’s licence “ ( Profile of Seniors’ Transportation Habits – Statistics Canada  – Source )

“A higher percentage of women drove to schools and daycares and retail establishments as their next stop after leaving home during morning rush hour” ( Trip chaining while driving—comparing men’s and women’s behaviour – Statistics Canada – Source )

A lack of transportation options can be a barrier to the full economic participation of women. Access to public transit systems plays an important role in supporting women’s ability to access the workforce, as well as supporting services and resources, such as health services and childcare. . . . transportation is the number one barrier to … accessing educational opportunities, and accessing employment.” In urban settings, the cost of public transit and the lack of suitable schedules are barriers to the economic participation of women. In northern, rural and remote communities, there is often an absence of public transit which can be a problem for women who may not be able to afford a car.

( Report of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women Women’s Economic Security: Securing The Future Of Canada’s Economy – FEWO – Source )

Recommendation 13

That the Government of Canada expand the eligibility requirements of the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund to include not-for-profit and non‑governmental community transit organizations, where municipally funded transportation services are not available.

( Report of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women Women’s Economic Security: Securing The Future Of Canada’s Economy – FEWO – Source )

Recommendation 14

That the Government of Canada, immediately and on an ongoing basis, increase investment in public transportation that will ensure affordable, accessible, frequent and safe transit services for women.

( Report of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women Women’s Economic Security: Securing The Future Of Canada’s Economy – FEWO – Source )

A public bicycle system is a bank of bicycles that can be picked up  and dropped off at numerous points across an urban area. The bicycles are available  to the general public for short‐term use for free or for a small fee.” ( Bike Sharing Guide – Transport Canada – Source )

“Our MIssion: To serve the public interest through the promotion of a safe and secure, efficient and environmentally responsible transportation system in Canada.

Our Vision: A transportation system in Canada that is recognized worldwide as safe and secure, efficient and environmentally responsible.

Our Raison d’être, Mandate and Role: Who we are and what we do: At Transport Canada, we are responsible for developing and overseeing the Government of Canada’s transportation policies and programs so that Canadians can have access to a transportation system that is:

  • Safe and secure;
  • Green and innovative; and
  • Efficient

( Mission, Vision and Mandate – Transport Canada – Source)

In 2013, the proportion of people who met the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines differs by age and sex.” (Health Status of Canadians 2016: Report of the Chief Public Health Officer – What is influencing our health? – Physical activity – Source)


Velo Canada Bikes Documents:

A particular opportunity for improving mobility exists for Canadian women, who are considerably less likely to ride bicycles than Canadian men. According to North American experts, a major explanatory factor is a lack of safe conditions.” (2018 Pre-Budget Submission – Source)

“The powerful and wide-ranging benefits of cycling relate to numerous critical areas that are clear priorities for

the Government of Canada. These include climate change and the need for low carbon transportation, health,

gender and social equity, reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, tourism and small business.” ( VCB Position Paper – Source )

It ensures that everyone, regardless of their age, ability, gender, economic status or postal code is able to personally enjoy the innumerable benefits of cycling.”
( National Cycling Strategy Overview – Source)


Canadian Media sources

Only one in 3 cyclists in the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton are female. It’s a statistic that’s in keeping with other North American cities.,,the report found that more than half of the trips women take every day could potentially be cycled.” (Why poor infrastructure keeps women from cycling – CBC Source)

German, Danish and Dutch women cycle as often as men but the numbers are much different in North America. In Canada, just 29 per cent of daily bike commuters were women, according to 2006 census data, although that number did rise in Canadian cities: women made up 35 per cent of bicycle commuters in Toronto and Montreal and 37 per cent in Vancouver. ( Is there a gender gap among commuting cyclists? The numbers are stark – Globe and Mail Source )

Women’s safety and biking are more interconnected than some might think. The “cycling gender gap”—the idea that women make up a disproportionately low fraction of bikers and that the reasons for this underrepresentation have to do with safety and greater gender inequality—is not a new concept. Though there’s little hard research for Toronto on the subject, we know that the gap is established at an early age: research last year found that high school girls in Toronto had “less access to a bicycle, less comfort or confidence in riding, [and] more fear associated with cycling.”” (Why Bike Safety is Still an Issue for Women in Toronto – The Torontoist – Source )

“If the consumer economy had a sex, it would be female.  Women drive 70-80% of all consumer purchasing, through a combination of their buying power and influence.  Influence means that even when a woman isn’t paying for something herself, she is often the influence or veto vote behind someone else’s purchase.” (Forbes – Source)

Canadian Academic sources:

The results showed a pattern of hesitancy to cycle on the part of female high school students compared with their male counterparts.” (Cycling to High School in Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Exploration of School Travel Patterns and Attitudes by Gender Source )

A consistent pattern of gender differences and women’s lower participation in utility cycling is evident. This is primarily attributed to the risks (actual and perceived) associated with cycling in countries with relatively poor cycling infrastructure, policies, regulations and low cycling prevalence” (Integrated strategies to accelerate the adoption of cycling for transportation – Science Direct Source )

Our results indicate that female students cycled less compared to male students for both commute (6.8% versus 10.3%) and non-commute (7.9% versus 11.6%) purposes.” (Does the Built Environment Explain Gender Gap in Cycling? a Study of Post-Secondary Students in Toronto, Canada – MoveTO Source )

Women and transit pass holders were less likely, while students rather than staff were more likely to cycle during the winter.” ( Facilitators and Barriers to Winter Cycling: Case Study of a Downtown University in Toronto, Canada – Ryerson Source )

“…90 per cent of travel decision-makers are female. “Their perspectives help define the leisure travel industry,” said Dorothy Dowling, Best Western’s senior vice president of Marketing and Sales.”
(Top travel habits of Canadian and U.S. women revealed – Global News Source)

International Academic sources

With traditionally men working in transport sector, it is therefore not surprising that transport policies have generally favoured car use over public transport, cycling and walking. Decisions regarding transport policy are generally taken by “mature” men, precisely the age group that mainly travels by car.” (Gender and Transport – OECD International Transport Forum Discussion Paper – Source)

The issue of taking account of gender in transport is a fairly recent one. Since the statistics do not differentiate between men and women, it is hard to understand the differences in reasons for making trips, trip frequency, distances travelled, mobility-related problems in gaining access to health services, employment, etc” (Gender and Transport – OECD International Transport Forum Discussion Paper – Source)

Women frequently need to make trips outside rush hours and to destinations different to those of men, for example to go shopping or to accompany children to school, health centres, etc. The time lost in travelling is therefore far more penalising for women.“  (Gender and Transport – OECD International Transport Forum Discussion Paper – Source)

In both North America and Europe, for example, women make more trips, and in chains that are more complex, than those made by men, notably due to the fact that they undertake more non work-related trips. At the same time, their journey-to-work trips are shorter as their area of access to jobs is often smaller due to time constraints and their lesser degree of access to a private car. Because of the complexity of their travel chains and the fact that they have more trips to make, they are more dependent on the car. However, when they have the time, they make greater use of public transport and walking than men for equivalent trips. (Gender and Transport – OECD International Transport Forum Discussion Paper – Source)

The difficulties faced by women with regard to their mobility are a form of social exclusion which affects all aspects of their lives and in particular hinders the economic output and health of women.” (Gender and Transport – OECD International Transport Forum Discussion Paper – Source)

If women wish to find work and combine a professional life with housework, they must overcome innumerable obstacles and in particular: non-proximity between the place of residence, workplace and shops; insufficient public transport, particularly in suburbs and outside rush hours; public transport schedules aimed primarily at journey-to-work trips;” (Gender and Transport – OECD International Transport Forum Discussion Paper – Source)

As in other areas, in order to evaluate the issue of gender in relation to transport and mobility issues, it must first be possible to measure it. The World Bank has identified four fields in which statistics on the interactions between gender and transport would be useful to planners: 1) access to different modes of transport, 2) the cost of transport, 3) trip characteristics (modes, frequency, length of trips, reasons for trips), and 4) transport quality.” (Gender and Transport – OECD International Transport Forum Discussion Paper – Source)

For women, having choices that will provide easier and fairer conditions of access to all the possibilities afforded by cities is an essential issue. Being able to put an end to confinement and/or isolation is a major step towards the personal fulfilment of women.” (Gender and Transport – OECD International Transport Forum Discussion Paper – Source)

In low-cycling countries, cycling is not evenly distributed across genders and age groups. . . . n high-cycling countries, where gender differences exist, women tend to cycle more than men.” ( Does More Cycling Mean More Diversity in Cycling? Source )

“In this large, population-based, prospective study, we found that women who reported regular exercise, cycling for transportation, or a higher level of nonexercise activity were at a 20–50 percent lower risk for early mortality compared with the less active women.” (Influence of Exercise, Walking, Cycling, and Overall Nonexercise Physical Activity on Mortality in Chinese Women – Source )

“In this sample of 1862 bicyclists, men were more likely than women to cycle for recreation and for transport, and they cycled for longer. Most transport cycling was for commuting, with men more likely than women to commute by bicycle. Men were more likely to cycle on-road, and women off-road. However, most men and women did not prefer to cycle on-road without designed bicycle lanes, and qualitative data indicated a strong preference by men and women for bicycle-only off-road paths…. The main constraints for both genders and both cycling purposes were perceived environmental factors related to traffic conditions, motorist aggression and safety. Women, however, reported more constraints, and were more likely to report as constraints other environmental factors and personal factors.”  (Gender differences in recreational and transport cycling: a cross-sectional mixed-methods comparison of cycling patterns, motivators, and constraints – Source

Gender differences were statistically significant for preferring bicycle signals (63.7% men, 69.1% women) and cycle tracks (53.9% men, 60.2% women). “ ( Gender and used/preferred differences of bicycle routes, parking, intersection signals, and bicycle type: Professional middle class preferences in Hangzhou, China – Source )

International Media sources

“The main reason most women don’t cycle in the UK is because they think it is dangerous.”
( Women shun cycling because of safety, not helmet hair – Guardian – Source )

“Among all households with kids and one breadwinner, women tend to commute 13 minutes less than men do, and the largest gender difference for work travel occurs in households with children and two breadwinners: 16 minutes.” (Women Still Do More Traveling Than Men for Household Errands – CityLab – Source)

“there is widespread support for greater investment in cycling, with as many as four in five women supporting better funding for cycling” (Study reveals the stark gender gap in cycling and what could be done to close it. – Cycling Weekly UK Source)

“If there aren’t at least as many women as men, then usually it’s because cycling is not safe enough. It’s an indicator that you do not have good enough cycling infrastructure.” (‘If there aren’t as many women cycling as men … you need better infrastructure’ – Guardian Source)

“[In the US} Women account for 85% of overall consumer spending including everything from autos to healthcare … [including] 92% Vacations . . . 91% of New Homes . . . 65% New Cars (FAST FACTS Marketing to Women – Source)


Prepared by Anders Swanson, Dea van Lierop, and Sara Kirk
Velo Canada Bikes 2018

AGM 2018

Vélo Canada Bikes 2018 Annual General Meeting Agenda

Sunday, September 9, 2018, 14:00 – 16:00 EST

Conference call: using ClickMeeting with dial-in option.

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