October is Transport month and this week Transport for Cape town (TCT) hosted their Transit Orientated Development Summit (TOD) – to stimulate debate and brainstorm around TOD in Cape Town with the view to creating a TOD development strategy. What has come out of many of the many conversations and workshops is the need for recording, measuring and quantifying bicycle culture in the city, whether it be the number of people who commute, modal share or the number of bicycle shops in the city. Without these figures it makes it very difficult to access needs, decide on points of implementation and the impact of interventions.
If we look at bicycle cities around the world the one thing that stands out is the availability of data on cycling and bicycle culture. It is this data that has been interinsic to helping drive change and benchmark success.
Let’s take the emerging bicycle city of Dublin, described by Copenhagenize as “the Great Bike Hope among Emerging Bicycle Cities,” the Irish capital has certainly found cycling success through its bike share scheme and low speed zones. According to the 2013 Copenhagenize Index 7.5% of Dubliners are travelling by bike; that number was 5.6% in 2006, an incredible rise over just six years that clearly indicates the success of Dublin’s infrastructure projects and city-wide cycling strategy. (Dig deeper into the Dublin stats on copenhagenize.com).
Infographic by irishcycle.com
Data collection is also very useful in more established bicycle cities to track the impact of policy changes and new infrastructure builds on cycling. Copenhagen is one of the best cities in the world for cyclists (rated #2 on the Copenhagenize Index). The infographic below (shared by cykelvalg.dk) illustrates the evolution and scope of the city’s vibrant bicycle culture. In Copenhagen more than half the population cycles to work and school and most of them cycle all year round (including during the winter when it’s freezing and snowing). Cyclists in Copenhagen are happy with 95% satisfied that their city is bike friendly. In Copenhagen cycling is convenient and most people choose to not have a car as it is quicker to get around by bicycle. Interestingly, statistics have shown that Copenhagen actually saw its modal share fall from 37% (2008) to 35% (2012) – a drop that has been attributed to the negative impact of helmet promotion at the time! This figure has now stabilized around 36%.
Infographic by: cykelvalg.dk
Capturing Cape Town
In South Africa the latest National Household Travel Survey (NHTS) survey done in 2013 showed that the modal share for cycling is a dismal 1.3%. This survey is carried out every 10 years, making accessing the immediate impacts of strategies and projects difficult. It is also a very general survey that is not bicycle focused. There is a lot of data that could be captured to access the needs and challenges facing cycling in SA and to track impacts.
Over the next few years the City of Cape Town will continue to drive NMT development with more cycle infrastructure and integrated transport options on the cards. Combined with grassroots empowerment and the promotion of bicycle culture we should see a big shift in modal share that will hopefully put Cape Town up there with other emerging bicycle cities.
Let’s hope that the data geeks and number crunchers will be there to capture and guide this transformation!
Explore more Bike Friendly cities around the world, with this great list of 75 cities that you will want to visit by bike.