Vanier Prime Candidate for High Bike Modal Share


Cool kids on cool bikes in cool neighbourhood.
Cool kids on cool bikes in cool neighbourhood.

Vanier is a former municipality in Ontario, which was amalgamated with the City of Ottawa in 2001. It is situated at the east end of down town, east of the Rideau River. It only got the name Vanier in 1969, after Governor General George Vanier. It was unfortunately also known for being rough around the edges. But it has a an urban maple groove and a sugar shack in its former city limits.

Lately, like Hintonburg, it is going through some real change. There has been gentrification, there are active  community groups  and there appears a new pride in the place. The ward councillor is Mathieu Fleury, who always makes me think of Tintin; you can often see him on his bike between meetings.

Councillor Fleury is the councillor of Vanier.
Councillor Fleury is the councillor of Vanier.

High density: ideal for cycling

Vanier’s density is 6017 persons per km² (2001 Census). That is fairly high and a good starting point for a great bike culture. Remember you always hear the excuse that Canada is a big country and we don’t have the density? Let’s compare Vanier with the city of Schiedam in the Netherlands, situated right next to Rotterdam. In fact, you can’t even see where Rotterdam ends and Schiedam begins.

Volunteers at Safer Roads Ottawa booth.
Volunteers at Safer Roads Ottawa booth.

Schiedam’s density is about 3780 person per km², nearly half of Vanier. Yet the bike modal share in Vanier is likely only 2-4 percent, while Schiedam’s bike modal share is 19% (and 28% for trips below 7.5 km). So why is it that Vanier has a higher density, yet the bike modal share is so much lower? That doesn’t make sense.  We can only guess: lack of infrastructure? Lack of bike education? Lack of encouragement?

Sarah on the left
Sarah on the left

Enter Sarah Partridge

Sarah is a board member of the Vanier Community Association. The association is encouraging people to cycle more and has set up a sub committee to get organised: Vanier Cycles.  This year, Sarah organised a  bicycle event with information booths by cycling related organisations such as Safer Roads Ottawa, Citizens for Safe Cycling and Ecology Ottawa. You could also repair your own bike and even make a smoothie on a bike, by powering the mixer with pedal power.

Vélo-Vanier is a free bike share program run by the Vanier Community Service Centre that started its operations this morning at 290 Dupuis Street. Rose-Anne Leonard is in charge of the program. Club Optimiste Vanier, on the other hand, organizes a bike skill event every year.

Bike skills organised by Club Optimiste
Bike skills organised by Club Optimiste
Rob Wilkinson of Safer Roads Ottawa had to make the same joke for four hours with his reflective bracelets. Rob is connecting a lot of community partners in the background. I have never seen him stressed or angry.
Rob Wilkinson of Safer Roads Ottawa had to make the same joke for four hours with his reflective bracelets. Rob is connecting a lot of community partners in the background. I have never seen him stressed or angry.

Sarah is a joy to work with. Rather than complaining, she set out to help change the bike culture for the good in Vanier. Therefore Citizens for Safe  Cycling didn’t hesitate one minute when she approached us to come out for the Sunday bike event. I volunteered that day to be in the booth with Isabel, who is just getting her feet wet in cycling advocacy.

Bike repair on site
Bike repair on site
Dogs are especially bred for bike baskets. Nice helmet too by the way.
Dogs are especially bred for bike baskets. Nice helmet too by the way.

We talked to quite a number of people: some sitting on the fence, others already cycling. We sold a few new memberships and bike seat covers and generally shared lots of information about new bike infrastructure and the rules of the road. It was very nice to see such a diverse community come together and work on bike promotion. We really enjoyed the event. And, I learned that within 30 minutes the bike skills event already broke last year’s numbers of participants. I sense a bike culture in the making here.

Citizens for Safe Cycling booth with Isabel and Hans (modestly looking down as usual)
Citizens for Safe Cycling booth with Isabel and Hans (modestly looking down as usual)

Velofest supported the association in the background as community spoke partner.

More info:

Vanier Community Association

Velo Vanier (Twitter account)

Vanier Cycles email: vanieravelo@gmail.com

data source: Wikipedia and Fietsberaad

photos by Urban Commuter, Rob Wilkinson and Sarah Partridge (although I forgot who took which pics)

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8 thoughts on “Vanier Prime Candidate for High Bike Modal Share

  1. I live in Vanier.
    They could start by improving the roads so I could easily bike to the paths! I currently bike on Montreal Rd, and like all the roads in the Vanier core, the potholes are atrocious, and the lanes are very small with the buses going by. As soon as you pass St. Laurent, it expands out and has nice bike lanes 🙂

  2. I would just like to clarify this quote here:

    “Don’t confuse Vanier Cycles with Vélo-Vanier, a free neighbourhood bike share, run by Club Optimiste. For years Club Optimiste has been organising bike skill events already.”

    In fact, Vélo-Vanier is a free bike share program run by the Vanier Community Service Center that started its operations this morning at 290 Dupuis Street. Rose-Anne Leonard is in charge of the program.

    Club Optimiste Vanier, on the other hand, organizes a bike skill event every year.

  3. I wish I had known sooner that there was something going on in Vanier! Looked like fun.

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