At Gorski Consulting we have stepped up our efforts to provide data about cycling in London and South-Western Ontario. As governments in North America are rapidly changing their roadway networks to create more access to active transportation, it is believed that the cycling mode of transportation will also see a rapid increase. This is good for correcting climate change and improving heath. However, uninformed change can have its detrimental effects. Good quality data remains the cornerstone of good change.

In the last month we have been examining our historical photos of cyclists who were observed riding in London, Ontario. We decided to select the years 2013 through 2020 as the range of our study. The focus has been on cyclists who were observed riding next to or within a city roadway. Thus we have excluded observations of cyclists on dedicated paths and lanes that are not adjacent to a roadway. We have also not included the data from our focused studies where we set up video cameras at a specific location and documented for several hours at that specific location. Thus the observations that were included were those where cyclists were seen riding along or adjacent to any roadway regardless of the location in the City.

We have just completed the first three years worth of data from 2013, 2014 and 2015. An interesting finding is the percentage of males versus females riding on London’s roads. The table below shows the results of these observations.

Of the 522 cyclists in the above table 426 were male and 79 were female. Each year the data indicates that about 85 percent of observed cyclist were male.

London Ontario, like most cities, is expecting a very large increase of cyclists in the next 10 years as a result of its intention to reduce its carbon emissions. There are some loose indications that the present cycling mode of transportation in London is about 1% of its total. The City expects to increase this to at least 5%, but if it is to meet its climate change commitments the needed percentage is likely to be in the range of 20 to 25%.

The disparity in gender becomes even larger when winter road conditions are examined. In the next table we look at observed cyclists just in the winter months (December through March).

Of the 101 cyclists where gender could be established, 96% percent of riders were male.

Male cyclist riding eastbound on Dundas Street near Maitland in February of 2015. Female cyclists are rarely observed in London Ontario in these wintery conditions.

The above tables demonstrate a potential problem. Is it likely that females will be difficult to entice to ride a cycle on a City street? Will this cause a difficulty in achieving the required increase in ridership? Why do females appear to be less inclined to ride a cycle along City streets? What is the purpose of male cyclists that causes them to ride along City streets and is that purpose different for females? Are unsafe conditions one of the reasons why females are not observed along City streets? Are weather conditions a factor? Answers to these questions will be needed if we can make an efficient transformation in mode of transportation.

We will have further to add once we have completed our analysis of data for the years 2016 to 2020.