Vancouver's most 'walkable' and 'bikeable' neighbourhoods are also more dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists: study
The Burrard Bridge bike lane is seen in this file photo.
VANCOUVER -- The City of Vancouver's most walkable, bike-friendly neighbourhoods are also the ones where pedestrians and cyclists are most likely to be hit by cars, new research from the University of British Columbia finds.
The study, which was published recently in the journal Transportation Research Record, looked at five years' worth of data on collisions from ICBC and compared areas with high crash risk to their walk scores and bike scores. Areas that scored better on these metrics were also areas where pedestrians and cyclists, respectively, were more likely to be involved in crashes.
While this conclusion - that collisions between vehicles and pedestrians or cyclists are more likely to happen in areas that are more attractive for walking and cycling - may seem obvious, the authors of the study note that they controlled for traffic volume when looking at the data.
"There is an implicit assumption that ‘walkable’ and ’bikeable’ means safe for walking and biking, but these indices do not actually include objective measures of safety," said Tarek Sayed, a professor in UBC's department of civil engineering and one of the lead researchers, in a news release.
“We found that the zones with better bikeability and walkability scores had higher collision risks," Sayed said. "We controlled for traffic volume and pedestrian and cyclist numbers, so this reflects actual collision risks to individuals.”
The areas of Vancouver that pose the highest risk to cyclists include the downtown core, Strathcona and Mount Pleasant. Pedestrians are at the greatest risk in those neighbourhoods, plus Fairview and Grandview-Woodland.
Those neighbourhoods are considered walkable or bikeable because they have a high density of locations people want to walk or bike to visit, but not because they're especially safe for pedestrians or cyclists.
Sayed and his colleagues propose an alternative metric that measures both safety and attractiveness of destinations.
On this scale, the neighbourhoods in Vancouver that score highest are parts of Point Grey, Stanley Park, False Creek, the River District, Kerrisdale and along the Fraser River in Marpole.
“By providing the public with an objective measure of safety, my hope is that cyclists and pedestrians will be better equipped to navigate their cities safely, and with an accurate understanding of where they are at greater risk of injuries from car collisions,” said Sayed.