The City of Calgary began demographic measurements of bicycle activity in 2013 when the Transportation Department conducted its first wide-ranging bicycle and pedestrian counts. Successive annual reports have been used to identify trends in cycling volumes and demographics. Now, the army of data collectors that hit the pavement in 2016 is seeing their observations published in the 2016 Bicycle and Pedestrian Count, which has been neatly presented in an online document.

12th Avenue cycle tracks, image by Forum contributor Surrealplaces

The data was manually collected across 90 locations using handheld electronic counters during weekdays in May, June, July and September from 6:30 to 9:30 AM and 3:30 to 6:30 PM. The recorded data included the raw number of cyclists observed, and also included demographic information like age, gender, and the number of cyclists riding with or without helmets.

A total of 29,030 cyclists were counted during a six-hour period at 90 locations across Calgary. The highest concentration of cyclists occurred at three locations along the Bow River. The results mesh with a developing pattern concerning the proportion of female bicyclists, which stood at 25 percent in 2016 compared to 21 percent in 2013.

Cycling volumes map, image via City of Calgary

The Bow River Pathway and 11 Street SW was the busiest intersection for male cyclists and the second-busiest for female cyclists. The Bow River Pathway and 14 Street NW recorded 484 female cyclists, the highest cluster for the cohort. The highest proportion of female cyclists, 40 percent, was observed at Seton Boulevard and Seton Way SE.

Locations with the highest and lowest helmet usage, image via City of Calgary

Children and seniors only constituted four percent of all cyclists counted in the 2016 initiative. Over 80 percent of the cyclists were between the ages of 18 and 65 at the majority of count locations. But at three percent, the 2016 count signifies an increase in the proportion of cyclists under 18. The highest proportion of youth cyclists was observed at the pedestrian bridge over Crowchild Trail SW near Ypres Lane SW and Currie Barracks, seeing 50 percent of traffic under the age of 18. The Schooner Landing Bridge between Tuscany and Scenic Acres recorded 16 percent of cyclists over the age of 65, the highest proportion of senior cyclists.

Data collectors also counted 75,927 pedestrians and 34 wheelchair and mobility scooter users during a six-hour period at 90 locations. Stephen Avenue west of Centre Street SW was the epicentre for pedestrian traffic, seeing a total of 12,131 foot users. 

Helmet usage map, image via City of Calgary

Calgary's segregated downtown bike network may have contributed to a greater sense of safety and a corresponding decline in the number of cyclists wearing helmets. In 2016, 80 percent of cyclists wore helmets, a six percent drop from the 2013 results. The Schooner Landing Bridge saw the highest helmet usage, while 40 Street and 17 Avenue SE only witnessed 15 percent of helmet-donning riders.

The City also maintains a network of automated counters that collect 24-hour bicycle volume data throughout the year. The data source is purely quantitative in nature, while the annual count provides qualitative demographic information that allows the City to identify and monitor trends in cycling popularity.

Want to get involved in the discussion or share your photos? Check out the associated Forum thread or leave a comment in the field provided below.