Bicycle mode share for work trips in the City of Toronto
Every five years, Statistics Canada does a survey of all Canadians known as the Census. As part of the Census, information is collected on how Canadians travel to work. This "journey to work" data tells us how many people ride a bicycle to work - an important indicator of how many people use a bicycle for transportation.
Other sources of information on how many people ride a bicycle in Toronto include the Transportation Tomorrow Survey, and the 1999 Toronto Cycling Survey (PDF), and the 2009 Toronto Cycling Survey (PDF).
How many people ride a bike to work in the City of Toronto?
According to the Census, 1.7% of people in the City of Toronto rode their bicycle to work in 2006. This percentage is known as the bicycle mode share.
The Census also tells us that cycling in Toronto is on the rise. Between 2001 and 2006, the number of people riding a bike to work in Toronto increased by over 30%.
Who rides a bike to work in Toronto?
In Toronto, cycling to work is most popular among people aged 25 to 44, and is more popular among males than females.
- 65% of people who ride a bicycle to work are male, and 35% are female.
- 58% of people who ride a bicycle to work are between the ages of 25 to 44.
- Age and sex profile of people who ride a bicycle to work, as a percentage of all bicycle commuters (Toronto, 2006)
Although cycling is most popular among younger males, 2006 Census data suggest the cycling demographic is shifting.
- Among commuter cyclists, the increase in the number of people riding a bicycle to work was greater among females than males.
- The greatest increases in the percentage of people riding a bicycle to work were among females aged 45 to 54 (+136.8%) and males aged 55 to 64 (+147.2%).
Cycling is also more common among people who live closer to downtown. For example, the bicycle mode share for the census tract located at College St. and Bathurst St. is 17%, while most suburban areas of the city have a bicycle mode share of less than 1%.
View a map of bicycle mode share (PDF) across the City of Toronto.
How does Toronto compare to other municipalities in the region, in terms of number of people cycling to work?
The City of Toronto has the highest bicycle mode share (1.7%) of any municipality in the Toronto and Hamilton Census Metropolitan Areas. The average bicycle mode share across this area is 0.5%. The average bicycle mode share across Canada is 1.3%.
About cycling data and the Census
Census bicycle mode shares are an indicator of how many people ride a bicycle, but they do not tell the whole story. The Census only counts bicycle trips to work, and excludes non-work bicycle trips, such as to run errands or visit friends and family. Also, people who ride a bicycle to work for part of their trip (for example, in combination with public transit) may not be counted as cyclists because the Census only allows one choice for mode of travel to work. If all of these other bicycle trips were counted, Toronto's bicycle mode share would be higher than 1.7%.
The number of people riding a bicycle (for work or non-work trips) also varies greatly across a city, especially in a city as large as Toronto where the urban form is so diverse. In addition to factors like bike lanes and paths, some areas are more bicycle-friendly than others because of their higher densities, street network characteristics, lower traffic speeds, and shorter distances between destinations.
Bicycle mode share can also vary depending on where you draw geographic boundaries. For example, bicycle mode share in the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area (which includes many municipalities) was 1% in 2006, compared to 1.7% for the City of Toronto, and 17% for census tract number 5350059.00, a smaller area located at College St. and Bathurst St. All this variety means that the 1.7% bike mode share for the entire City of Toronto hides differences across the city.
Source: Statistics Canada. 2008. Employed labour force(1) by mode of transportation
- both sexes, males, females
- age 15 to 24, 25 to 34, 35 to 44, 45 to 54,
55 to 64, 65 and over,
- 2006 counts, percentage distribution (2006), and
percentage change (2001 to 2006)
for Canada, census metropolitan areas and census agglomerations, and component census subdivisions (municipalities) of residence - 20% sample data (table). Place of Work Highlight Tables, 2006 Census. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 97-561-XWE2006002. Ottawa. Released April 2, 2008.