All Infrastructure is not Created Equal

At the start of the summer, as we were coming out of our first lockdown and governments were looking for economic stimulus programs, Vélo Canada Bikes researched the return-on-investment for different types of infrastructure, include active transportation infrastructure.

From a purely economic point of view, cycling and pedestrian infrastructure, by far, gives the greatest dollar return on investment. That return is $11.80 ROI for each dollar spent. The lowest return is for road construction, with $1.30 being returned for each dollar spent.

Now, 6 months later, and in another lockdown, municipalities and governments across Canada are in the process of planning their budgets for 2021. Clearly, we continue to need economic stimulus. And clearly, we continue to need to provide opportunities for people to get out of their homes and experience their communities safely.

Over the summer, we saw the incredible bloom of open streets across the country and the response was overwhelming. People were out experiencing their communities and neighbourhoods as never before. As we hunker down for the winter we cannot forget that experience and we must plan for it to continue not just for the duration of the pandemic but going forward.

From a pure dollars and cents perspective, investing in active transportation infrastructure is the wisest way to go. From a community building perspective, pedestrian and cycling infrastructure connects people in ways that other infrastructure can’t. From a climate change perspective, cycling and pedestrian infrastructure is the way of the future.

Infrastructure ROI

e-Bikes & Micro-Mobility

Transport Canada has made the decision to step away from defining and regulating e-bikes as of February 2021. Since this decision was communicated in February of this year, VCB has been engaging stakeholders to understand the scope and impact of this decision. 

Our main concern is that the lack of country-wide definitions could lead to a mish mash of regulation across the country, with each province and territory taking their own path. We are already beginning to see that occurring in the discussions happening now. 

Having harmonized definitions of e-bikes across Canada benefits everyone. Having different regulations in each province will act as a barrier for manufacturers and retailers getting their bikes to market. And this is a huge market! Over the past several months e-bike sales have exploded across Canada. While bike sales have increased significantly, it is the e-bike market that has shown the most growth. 

 Vélo Canada Bikes sent a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau on behalf of our cycling advocacy partners asking for a stop to the repeal of the federal definitions and to work together to have a more cohesive approach to e-bikes and micro-mobility. 

We look forward to a response to our letter and engaging with our partners and stakeholders further to support a bike friendly Canada.

Letter to the Prime Minister

COVID Bike Shop Survey

In June/July Velo Canada Bikes sent out a survey to bike shops across Canada. The intent was to get a snapshot of what business was like in the height of the Covid-19 pandemic and business shutdowns in Canada. Following VCB’s work to ensure that provinces designated bike shops as “essential services” during the lockdown, it was important to understand the impacts. 

What was the experience of the bike shops? If their city opened streets and expanded safe cycling infrastructure, did that impact sales? As small businesses have been struggling during the economic lockdown, what has it been like for bike shops, which are small businesses themselves. 

A survey was sent to a total of 560 bike shops in Canada, from coast to coast. The survey consisted of only 7 questions and should have taken no more than 5 minutes to complete. We heard back from 64 bike shops from Victoria to Halifax.

Of note, and an important indicator, of the 12 bike shops that reported a decrease in revenue year over year, 4 were either closed during the pandemic or had changed their business model from the previous year. That left 8 shops with decreased sales. Of those, 6 shops are located in cities that have taken no action to improve cycling infrastructure, while only 2 are in cities that have responded with expanded cycling facilities. 

Find the full report here: IBD Survey Report