Most Metro Vancouverites blame cyclists, not drivers, for clashes on the road: survey
Published Thursday, June 28, 2018 3:08PM PDT Last Updated Thursday, June 28, 2018 7:22PM PDT
A new survey suggests a majority of Metro Vancouverites blame those on two wheels for clashes between cyclists and drivers, despite the region's reputation as one of the country's most bike-friendly places.
"When you see conflict between drivers and cyclists, (it's) very much still a driver mindset out there on the road because, let's face it, there are just more drivers than there are cyclists," Angus Reid Executive Director Shachi Kurl told CTV News. "People tend to look at cyclists as being responsible for those conflicts."
The results of a Canada-wide public opinion poll released by the institute Thursday suggest Vancouver is far from alone in that trend.
Overall, 60 per cent of respondents reported little conflict between drivers and cyclists on the road. But for those who think there is "quite a bit of conflict" on the road, two-thirds say cyclists are at fault.
According to the report, 60 per cent or more of those in Metro Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Montreal say cyclists are to blame. Fewer people in the Toronto area blame those on two wheels, but only by only a few percentage points.
The only exceptions were Winnipeg, where 52 per cent of participants blamed drivers, and Halifax, which was evenly split.
The results were highly dependent on whether the participant themselves rides a bike. According to the survey, 70 per cent of those who cycle multiple times a week blame drivers for clashes on the road, while 67 per cent of frequent drivers blame cyclists. Those who use public transit were more evenly split, but 52 per cent still tended to side with motorists.
"Not coincidentally, those who ride a bicycle multiple times per week are considerably more likely to blame drivers for disputes between the two groups on the roadways," the report said. "The much larger portion of the population that drives a vehicle multiple times per week, meanwhile, is more likely to blame cyclists."
Age was an important factor as well. Those between 18 and 34 were more likely to see drivers as being more at fault while three-quarters of those over 55 blamed cyclists.
"The greater degree of sympathy for bicyclists among 18-34-year-olds may reflect this age group’s greater propensity to ride a bike. Fully one-in-six in this generation (17 per cent) ride a bicycle at least once per week," the report said. "That’s nearly three times as many as those who ride a bike this often among the 55-plus age group."
When asked to assess cyclist and driver behaviour rather than just place blame, however, most respondents were unhappy with both groups.
Sixty-seven per cent of participants said too many cyclist don't follow the rules of the road. Nearly as many (64 per cent) say too many drivers don't pay enough attention to cyclists.
How many bike lanes do we need?
The report comes the same day a controversial new bike lane across Vancouver's Cambie Street Bridge opened to cyclists.
The $600,000 project was a response to an increased number of cyclists using the bridge over the past decade and is meant to make it safer for both cyclists and pedestrians.
Yet for a city that is often considered Canada's most bike-able, the report suggests Vancouverites remain fairly evenly split on how many bike lanes the community needs.
Thirty per cent of residents said there are too many bike lanes in the city, 34 per cent said there are too few and 36 per cent said Vancouver has about the right amount of cycling infrastructure.
Those numbers are a marked difference from other cities such as Winnipeg, Halifax and Toronto, where a majority of respondents said their cities needed more bike lanes.
Despite the rapid growth of cycling infrastructure in many parts of the country, Kurl said the finger-pointing between drivers and cyclists is likely to persist as more densely populated areas figure out ways to move their residents in greener, healthier, more efficient ways.
"Generationally, we're seen a shift and I think that over time that means we're going to see a shift in behaviour and probably more cyclists on the road, but how long before and if we get to a critical mass of enough cyclists to really change perception on that front?" she said. "I think this tension is going to continue to exist for a long time to come."
The following infographic from Angus Reid shows the survey's key findings.
With files from CTV Vancouver's St. John Alexander