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Victoria: Canada’s most bikeable city

Nadine Bells
Shine On
May 17, 2012

'Tis the season to take your bike out of storage.

June is National Bike Month. And Americans are wrapping up their bike month with Bike to Work Day this Friday.

Canadian cities vary when it comes to official Bike to Work days. In Toronto, Bike to Work Day is on May 28th. Calgary's annual bike commute was on Friday, May 4th.

Curious as to how bike-able your city is? Researchers at UBC and Simon Fraser University have developed a way to rate how good cities are for cycling. They currently rank Victoria, Vancouver and Montreal as the most bikeable cities in Canada.

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Their research is on the Seattle-based website Walk Score, where users can check how walkable their area is. Now the site also offers bike-ability "heat maps," where factors like topography, bike accessibility to desirable destinations, the number of bike lanes and road connectivity all calculate how bikeable that city is.

UBC's Cycling in Cities page explains the heat maps:

"Bike Scores are calculated for each location in a city, then mapped. Scores range from a low of 0 (deep red) to a high of 100 (dark green). By examining the 'heat maps' of Bike Score for their city, municipal planners can locate neighbourhoods that are currently under-served and target them for improvements."

See a sample heat map here.

St. John's ranked lowest among the first 10 Canadian cities mapped. In the U.S., Minneapolis, Portland and San Francisco take the top spots.

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The bike-ability scores serve two purposes: they can encourage residents in bike-friendly areas to dust off their bikes and experience their cities on two wheels; and they help identify a need for better biking infrastructure in poorer scoring areas.

"Bicycling is a form of healthy, active transportation," says Mike Brauer, UBC school of population and public health professor. "We wanted to provide a user-friendly tool to gauge the bike-ability of cities and neighbourhoods that would help planners identify areas that would benefit from additional infrastructure, while encouraging people to hop on a bike."

A happiness expert and economist at the University of British Columbia recently determined that the world's happiest cities have the most cyclists. Not sure how to get started? Here are some tips for biking beginners.

Not interested in biking to stay in shape? What about a kettlebell workout? Watch the video below about how to stay in shape with kettlebell exercises.

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