Tag Archives: maps

Data Nerd – Mapping Cycling Mode Share in Vancouver

It’s raining outside. Must be Bike to Work Week. Thousands of riders are commuting by bike this week and logging their trips online, but just how popular is cycling in Vancouver?

I’ve heard some people claim that only 1.7% of people in Vancouver bike, while criticizing the investments in new bike lanes the city has made. That’s bullshit.

The number comes from Statistics Canada, but is often misunderstood and misused. The 2011 long form census (now optional and called the National Household Survey) has the following question:
How did this person usually get to work? (Their emphasis, not mine)

  • Car, truck or van – as a driver
  • Car, truck or van – as a passenger
  • Public transit
  • Walked to work
  • Bicycle
  • Other method

Across all of Metro Vancouver (including the burbs), 1.7% usually commute by bike. In the City of Vancouver it’s 4.3%. The neighbourhoods around downtown have cycling mode shares of 15%, but in southeast Vancouver there are many areas where no one bikes, or so the stats seem to indicate (full searchable results). It’s important to consider what the statistics represent.

The question asks what the usual means of commuting is. Think of all the recreational riders, weekend warriors, and fair-weather cyclists (cycling volumes often double in the summer vs the winter). It’s unlikely casual cyclists would identify the bicycle as their usual means of commuting to work. Unfortunately, the NHS doesn’t ask people what means of transportation they sometimes use, and there aren’t any other comprehensive data sets available. The NHS survey results might under-represent cycling but it does indicate a minimum level that cycling has reached (it’s safe to say at least 4.3% of Vancouverites commute by bike) and it offers a good opportunity to create maps and see trends over time.

Here’s are the Vancouver maps of commuting patterns in 2011 for cycling, walking, and public transit. The Vancouver Sun created similar maps a few years ago with 2006 census data. In 2006, the highest mode share for cycling was 12% in South Cambie. In 2011, Grandview-Woodland had 15% bike commuters, Strathcona had 14%, Mount Pleasant had 13%, and Kitsilano, South Cambie, and Riley Park had 12%. For the walking and public transit, the darkest areas represent mode shares of close to 50% (for walking in the West End and transit in Marpole and Renfrew-Collingwood).
VancouverCyclingLevels VancouverWalkingevels VancouverTransitLevels

If you want to play with interactive maps, you can open these files in Google Earth:
I generated these maps using KML files from techearth.net as a base. I would be easy to generate heat maps for all of Metro Vancouver, but I couldn’t find a kml file with census tract boundaries for more than the Vancouver proper.

Vancouver Election Analysis Maps

Note: Check out the updated map here.

I thought I was done with Vancouver election analysis. But COPE asked me to do some extra work to help their membership understand what happened during the election, and since I like COPE I agreed. It meant less time for Skyrim and posting Vietnam pictures, but I got a mention in the Georgia Straight.

The analysis I presented for COPE probably isn’t that interesting to non-COPE members, but here’s a few reasons I think COPE did poorly.

  1. David Cadman didn’t run. He likely would have won his seat on council. Every COPE incumbent gained votes (between 1875 and 3736). The worst any incumbent from any party did was Stuart Mackinnon (Green Parks Board Councillor) – he lost 3654 votes. Cadman could have lost over 8,000 votes and still won a seat on council.
  2. Vote splitting with the Greens (and to a lesser degree NSV) hurt. You can see it on council, parks board, and school board (see charts below).
  3. There seems to be a split between social progressives in East Vancouver and enviros on west side of the city. Both supported Vision, but the enviros supported the Greens and the social progressives voted for COPE.
  4. COPE had only one Chinese candidate, and he was the only candidate that won.

City council vote distribution between 2008 and 2011
The NPA’s vote stays consistent, but the Vision/COPE vote splits between 15 progressive candidates. It hurt Vision as much as COPE, but Vision had more room to drop without losing seats. Raymond Louie lost nearly 3000 votes and was still the top candidate.

Continue reading Vancouver Election Analysis Maps

Exploring Google Maps Bike Directions

Vancouver Bike Network According to Google Maps
Yesterday bike directions started working on Google Maps, today I can see the Bicycling overlay, but only up to zoom level 11.

I like how they distinguish separated bike routes (dark green), from bike lanes (light green), and bike routes that are shared with car traffic (dotted green). The map is obviously a work in progress. There are some key routes that are missing – like the Dunsmuir Viaduct. Google encourages people to click “Report a Problem” when they notice errors, so I’m sure the quality will improve rapidly.

Yesterday, Emily noticed that routes taking you over the Cambie Bridge into downtown encouraged you to bike under the bridge (down Spyglass Place) and then carry your bike up 4 flights of stairs onto the bridge. We reported it as a problem last night, and it is already fixed.

Google is rolling out the Bike directions slowly, so if you don’t see the Bike icon, you can force it to provide the option by going to this link. I think the key is the &dirflg=b in the url.
Nevermind. If you don’t see the bike directions by default, it will give you car driving directions. Clicking on the link above will make it look like bike directions, but they are not.

Map Love for Bike Directions on Google Maps and Mapnificent

I love maps. I always have. When I was a kid I used to spend hours planning out all of our family road trips on big fold out maps and CAA triptiks. I think I got more enjoyment of looking at the maps then actually travelling around the country.

I am pleased to announce that as of today, Google Maps has bike directions for Vancouver. They announced it was coming last week, but it’s finally live! Here are the bike directions from my neighbourhood to work:

It knows about the bike route along the seawall and the separated bike route down Carrall. It doesn’t seem to know about separated lane down Dunsmuir yet – or at least algorithms that try to avoid highways are keeping it from suggesting it. Google has requested that people “Report a Problem” when they notice bad directions, so I’ve let them know about Dunsmuir.

I’m really looking forward to a good bike directions on Google Maps. UBC has provided a map at cyclevancouver.ubc.ca for a few years, but it is tough to beat the convenience and speed of having cycle directions integrated directly into Google Maps.

In other map news, you should definitely check out Mapnificent – a project that aims to highlight public transit accessibility and walkability. Given a starting location, it will show you where you can travel to in 15-minutes or less using public transit and walking.

Real Street Food Coming to Vancouver

La Bohème Crêperie
In most of the world, street food is a way of life, an expression of culture, and a great tourist attraction. I have fond memories of sampling Icelandic fish kabobs, Dutch pickled herring, and real Belgian waffles.

In Vancouver, everyday street food is currently limited to hot dogs (JapaDog is creative, but still a hot dog). Well, things are about to change. The city of Vancouver is expanding street food licenses and encouraging entrepreneurs to be creative. Hopefully we’ll see some tasty new options plus some of the vendors who make appearances at the Folk Festival and the Farmer’s Markets take up permanent locations. La Bohème Crêperie is an amazing crepe van that routinely has 30 minute line-ups at the farmer’s markets. If they took up residence near my work, I’d be ecstatic. My other wish is for someone to sell good tamales like we found in Portland.
Street Food Breakfast

The city is expecting new food carts to be on the street mid-July, with all the 17 spots taken by the end of the month. The map below shows the locations of the new carts – mostly downtown, with a few at the beaches and Main Street SkyTrain station.

Happy Car-Free Vancouver

MEC Bikefest
Sunday was Car-Free Vancouver Day – with street parties throughout the city celebrating all the progress this city is making. I missed most of the action, as we were on a hiking/camping trip in Golden Ears Provincial Park (pictures here), but want to acknowledge the progress Vancouver is making.

There have been huge improvements to cycling infrastructure. Following up on last falls Burrard Bridge bike lane, there is now a dedicated bike lane over the Dunsmuir Viaduct all the way through downtown (more details). I’ve been taking it every day, and it really makes my commute a lot faster and safer. And it seems to be gaining popularity with local cyclists – every day I have to share the lane with more and more cyclists. Of course there is the same tired arguments from some critics, but the results will speak for themselves.

The next steps for Vancouver will be another separated downtown bike lane, linking the Dunsmuir lane with the Burrard Bridge. And if the city can find away around the province’s mandatory helmet law, we might see Bixi bike sharing soon.

In other exciting car-free news, I’ve heard rumours that the city will try turning Granville Street into a pedestrian-only zone. After the success the street saw during the Olympics, I’m really happy city council is showing some leadership and reclaiming more public space from cars and returning it to pedestrians.

For a broader perspective on transportation issues, see Wired’s The Man Who Could Unsnarl Manhattan Traffic.