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  1. #1
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    Lease bike-friendly city in Canada?

    What do you think? I live and work in Edmonton and the commute is at times hostile and dangerous but I still do it. The rig pig trucks, the oil field flat beds... they're all going ridiculously fast and barfing out black diesel smoke.

    My vote is Edmonton. Then again, I grew up in Vancouver where commuting is car friendly (most of the time).

    Edmonton was also laughed at when the Europeans came here last summer to look at cycling advocacy and had numerous recommendations for improvements. Of course, the city hasn't done much for putting commuting by bike in the scope of Edmontonians.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Pig_Chaser's Avatar
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    heh heh, I don't know if I can argue with you... I've cycled both cities myself and Vancouver is definitely more cycle friendly (at least 10 years ago when I lived there). I don't know if I blame the blue collar oil field workers though. I used to commute to Nisku and I never, ever had any problems there whatsoever. In Nisku I'd have to take the lane and all manor of trucks would patiently wait until it was clear, then blast around me and carry on with their hitch mounted testicles swaying to and fro. Nary a honk, finger or threat. All my incidents happen in either Edmonton or Beaumont.

  3. #3
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    I don't know. Edmonton's certainly not bike-friendly compared to Vancouver, and those are the only two major cities I've lived in in Canada, nor is it anywhere close to the standard of Victoria, where I've also done some biking. But I bike here daily and never have problems, so I have a hard time believing it's the worst in the country. I didn't have my bike, but I was completely stymied in my effort to walk in parts of Quebec City (aside from the historical centre, the city is basically a transportation disaster), and don't imagine cycling would have been any better. My impression of Calgary is that it's on much the same level as Edmonton, and smaller cities (Red Deer, Grande Prairie...) appear to be the absolute pits for anyone trying to get around without a car.

    Calling "worst in the country" based on a two-city sample seems premature.

  4. #4
    Senior Member frymaster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by neil View Post
    Calling "worst in the country" based on a two-city sample seems premature.
    yes, but if only two cities are going to be sampled it's a breath of freakin' fresh air that neither of them are toronto!

    i vote st. john's btw. insane hills, brutal winds, narrow streets and no municipal snow clearing is a formula for zero fun.
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  5. #5
    In the wind mercator's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frymaster View Post
    yes, but if only two cities are going to be sampled it's a breath of freakin' fresh air that neither of them are toronto!

    i vote st. john's btw. insane hills, brutal winds, narrow streets and no municipal snow clearing is a formula for zero fun.
    I second that vote, that freezing rain is a killer.
    I think I would rate Edmonton slightly above Calgary in terms of bike friendliness, mostly for the governments efforts, the drivers are about the same.

  6. #6
    Senior Member frymaster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mercator View Post
    I would rate Edmonton slightly above Calgary in terms of bike friendliness, mostly for the governments efforts, the drivers are about the same.
    i call it the "gomberg legacy". that guy did more the normalize cycling at city hall than, uh... other people.
    "Let's try and keep the constructive answers in the commuting forum." --SheistyMike

  7. #7
    Senior Member groovestew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frymaster View Post
    i call it the "gomberg legacy". that guy did more the normalize cycling at city hall than, uh... other people.
    Current Edmonton city counsillor Don Iveson is a friend to cyclists, though perhaps not as extreme as Tooker "Let's flood the streets in the winter so that people can skate to work" Gomberg. Edmonton talks about long-term plans to improve the cycling infrastructure, but the long term plans seem to keep getting longer. That said, I haven't found Edmonton to be too bad for cycle commuting, but I have nothing to compare it to.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by frymaster View Post
    i call it the "gomberg legacy". that guy did more the normalize cycling at city hall than, uh... other people.
    Can you really it "normalizing?" Gomberg got some great things done, particularly in the wide curb lane department, but he also alienated a bunch of people, to the point where he still gets mentioned by some as a reason to dislike cyclists.

    Don has been working on cycling issues as much as I think we can expect from a councilor who'd actually like to be reelected. It's an uphill battle, but having someone around who might be able to stick with it through the long term should pay dividends...eventually. The Gomberg method got a few things done quickly, but without being able to stick with it long term, everything stalled after his term was up.

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    put me down for Winnipeg as one of the worst

  10. #10
    Senior idugboe's Avatar
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    As I learn more about getting around Edmonton by bike as opposed to car, I'm finding the city more & more a very enjoyable, safe place to ride. Improvements are needed of course, but the city does seem to be moving in the right direction. As for Edmonton drivers, my personal experience is that the vast majority are respectful of cyclists.
    I have limited riding time in Vancouver but what I have done left me slightly less comfortable than Edmonton. When putting in any sort of distance, I always seemed to end up on a 2 lane, semi-rural road without shoulders & an 80km speed limit. Just not familiar with the best routes perhaps.
    I do have about 10 years of attempting to navigate Winnipeg & I agree with mcleodja completely. Winnipeg is as close to cycling hell as you'll find anywhere. Then again its hell for motorists & pedestrians as well so cyclists can't feel singled out. A point in the city's favour may be that a VC does quite well there, as traffic can't go much faster than a bike anyway.
    Last edited by idugboe; 12-17-10 at 08:39 PM.

  11. #11
    Member Clunkerider's Avatar
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    Isn't it strange how in the Oil Province of Alberta we cyclists get treated poorly and hear stuff like "ride on the sidewalk where you belong!" and "get off the friggin' road and buy a hummer or one ton pickup to go do your groceries." Seriously though...it seems cyclists get treated badly and riduculed in both Edmonton and Calgary. Cycling is treated like a fun little weekend excursion for kids to do on the pathways and not a serious mode of transportation.

  12. #12
    Senior Member sauze's Avatar
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    until you've seen the city streets of winnipeg...

  13. #13
    Junior Member Beatle's Avatar
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    I would say the bigger the city, the less friendly the drivers. I am from Calgary and now living in Vancouver. Calgary may be a car culture due to their urban sprawl, but I nearly get run over on a daily basis in Vancouver whether I am on foot or on a bike.

  14. #14
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    Cycling infrastructure is one thing, vehicular tolerance culture is another.

    I think Vancouver is working hard on the former. I hope by doing so, it will not cause a negative impact on the latter.
    Also keep in mind, the elevation changes in a city is also a factor. The more hilly it is, the less inclined regular folks would want to cyclo-commute.
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  15. #15
    Junior Member Beatle's Avatar
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    I guess I would have to add that I feel pretty comfy on most Vancouver streets. Calgary, on the other hand, is criss crossed by 80Km/hr roads that I would not be wild about riding on. I think the only road in Vancouver with that sort of speedlimit is the highway.

  16. #16
    In the wind mercator's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beatle View Post
    I guess I would have to add that I feel pretty comfy on most Vancouver streets. Calgary, on the other hand, is criss crossed by 80Km/hr roads that I would not be wild about riding on. I think the only road in Vancouver with that sort of speedlimit is the highway.
    It's true, Calgary has some high speed freeways, but there is always a good alternative residential route that is quite safe. What we really lack is good signage so less experienced riders can find these routes. Any time I see a cyclist on Crowchild Trail, I know I'm seeing a new commuter trying out that cycling thing - it's so sad.

  17. #17
    S'toon trail rider! MisterK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcleodja View Post
    put me down for Winnipeg as one of the worst
    seconded

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    Calgary has an awesome trail system that will get you - if you know the network - almost anywhere in the city with very little street traffic. Edmonton infrastructure and general cycle awareness (as well as advocacy) seems far better than Calgary. It's been several years since I've ridden in Vancouver, but I used to love it. I never had any issues with traffic. If they're working on infrastructure there, that's great. I haven't ridden in Winnipeg or TO. If vehicle traffic is anything to go by, I might be nervous riding in Montreal! Anybody know how Montreal is to get around in?

  19. #19
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    I lived and rode in VAncouver for 15 years.

    I now live in the Okanagan and going back and riding in Vancouver is an exercise in how tightly I can squeeze my rear end. I hate it.

    If Vancouver is peoples' idea of bike friendly then I must currently live in paradise.

    I ride a lot in the Pheonix metro area, a city almost 5 times the size of VAncouver and cycling in Phoenix, vs Vancouver is like night and day.

    Kelowna is even better than that.

  20. #20
    Senior member Dan Burkhart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcleodja View Post
    put me down for Winnipeg as one of the worst
    I don't know about that. I go to Winnipeg quite frequently, and I don't mind cycling there. There is quite a lot of new bike path construction going on there right now as well.
    Even when you have to ride the streets though, I don't find it too bad.
    I've done lots of riding in Calgary and Saskatoon as well, and I like both cities pathways. Of course, I'm just there as a recreational rider, so I just go where the pathways take me. I don't have to worry about getting to specific destinations.
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  21. #21
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    I vote for Regina because it is not officially or culturally bike friendly in the least. The roads are a mess, people are rude, people think you are crazy and everybody gets a car as soon as they are 16. But I absolutely loved biking in Regina and it is almost the only thing I miss about the place. The big sprawling Wascana Park and parklands have paved and unpaved bike/walk lanes that go throughout the city so I could get everywhere without being on the highway or roads very much. I also developed my own bike route system of quiet roads as opposed to busy roads where I might get run over. I could take so many different routes to the same destination. Plus Regina is small so even traversing the entire city didn't take too long.
    I was there last year and even with all the fads and movement in cycling I saw very few cyclists. People were still riding ridiculous mountain bikes when Regina is PERFECT for fixies and road bikes. I didn't see one fixie.
    Biking in Regina was fun and free. Vancouver has loads of infrastructure but it's stressful and sometimes there are too many bikes on the bike lane!
    I would also say many rural areas in Canada are bad for cycling.

  22. #22
    Dharma Dog lhbernhardt's Avatar
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    I live in Burnaby, was working temporarily in Victoria for the past six months, have ridden my bike in Edmonton, Calgary, Hamilton, Toronto, and Montreal. I would say that the worst place for cycling amongst all the Canadian cities I've ridden in has to be Mississauga. Mississauga is designed to be a number of east-west and north-south multi-lane throughfares that create various "islands" of residential areas. So you have a residential area that could be about 8 blocks by 8 blocks, but it is surrounded by 6- or 8-lane major roads with no bike lanes and no special accommodations in the curb lane for other than right turns. Within each island, there are nice, quiet residential roads. But to get from one "island" to another, you have to negotiate these broad throughfares. There is one "bike path" but it doesn't really go anywhere.

    I think a lot of the problem has to do with Mississauga's 93-year-old mayor who doesn't appear to have done anything to make cycling viable in this town. Once you're out of Mississauga, even in Port Credit or Etobicoke, things are much better.

    The surprising town in southern Ontario is Hamilton. You can actually find nice places to ride in steel town. And of course, west of Hamilton to Niagara appears to be fine for riding.

    L.

  23. #23
    Senior Member detroitjim's Avatar
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    I'll bet that you could lease a bike in just about any larger city in Canada.

    I just can't understand why anyone would since it will cost you much much more that buying one outright.

  24. #24
    Custom User Title cowtown_cowboy's Avatar
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    I have commuted for work at various times in Saskatoon, Edmonton, Regina, Vancouver, Grande Prairie and now live in Calgary.
    Vancouver has great infrastructure, but there are still lots of clowns behind the wheel. Calgary actually has some great routes and you can get around somewhat easily. Edmonton is a little less friendly IMHO.
    I would say that Van gets my vote, because rain is easier to pedal through than snow.

    I still have nightmares from my less than 2 month assignment in GP. That city is the epiphany of everything that is wrong with the world... *shudders* If someone offered me $500k/year to go back to Grande Prairie I would still tell them to F off. Gawd that place was a nightmare.
    Last edited by cowtown_cowboy; 12-01-10 at 08:35 PM. Reason: spelling

  25. #25
    Senior idugboe's Avatar
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    I have to eat a little crow. Earlier in this thread I trashed Winnipeg as the worst city for cyclists, my opinion has changed. This fall I visited the city & had an oppotunity to try out their new $20 million bicycle infrastructure & I'm impressed. I was able to cycle to all four corners of the city with relative ease & not a lot of planning. They still have some work to do on attitudes though. While I was there, the Free Press ran an article about how drivers are coping with the changes & a lot of anger was expressed. A number of people demanded that the traffic calming measures installed on Grosvenor Ave, a picturesque, tree lined residential street, be removed because it was forcing them to use Corydon Ave, a main east/west arterial. That highlights the problem Winnipeg has had since the 1950's, the solution to any traffic issue has been whatever costs less. Build a freeway without overpasses & exchanges & allow commercial & back lane access to any road in the city. A red light is cheaper than a free flow intersection. This has resulted in a culture of shortcutters, only the the slow & unimaginitive use the arterial routes. I hope the city has the fortitude to stick to the current plan. They have an oportunty to create something truely exceptional.
    Last edited by idugboe; 12-20-10 at 04:24 PM.

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