Earlier this summer, US based People for Bikes published its annual city ratings. This year, in 2022, the organisaton ranked over 1100 North American cities.
Quebec mid size city scores high in People for Bikes rankings
I wrote about the rankings of Ottawa, Canada’s capital already, but I still owe you an overview of Gatineau’s rankings about cycling in Gatineau. Gatineau, Quebec, with 291,000 residents, is considered a mid size city for the rankings and this city across the river from Ottawa did -like last year- even better than Ottawa.
It ranked in the 99th percentile of both the overall ratings of 1105 cities as well as in the mid size city category of 455 cities. Gatineau scored 9th (8th in 2021) and 4th (3rd in 2021) respectively with a rating of 64. In the mid size city category, only Davis, Berkeley and Boulder score higher than Gatineau. In general, a score above 50 means a city is making a strong effort to make bicycling safe and convenient for riders.
Gatineau is about to enter the category of large cities (300,000+) and might actually end up second in the category Large Cities category after Montreal next year.
Scores for Gatineau
Like all other cities, Gatineau has a network score and a community score. (Actually not all cities have a community score. There is a minimum number of replies needed to make sure the answers don’t get skewed). The network score is based on data such as safe speeds, protected bike lanes, network connections etc; the community score is based on a survey filled out by a number of participants.
Note: I find the terminology a bit confusing: there is a network rating and and a network score. The score is part of the rating. Keep that in mind.
Six main factors influence a city’s score (summarized by the acronym SPRINT):
Protected Bike Lanes
(source: People for Bikes website)
If we compare the two scores between Ottawa (see previous post) and Gatineau, we’ll notice that Gatineau’s and Ottawa’s community scores are similar (55 and 57), however the network score in Ottawa (49) is considerably lower than Gatineau (66). For the record, Montreal’s network score is 66 and its community score 61.
How about Gatineau and Ottawa as one National Capital Region entity?
Gatineau and Ottawa are somewhat of a Siamese twin (if that is still a word), joined at the hip by the Ottawa River. Locally, we tend to talk about the National Capital Region. Many cyclists cross the river to cycle in Gatineau Park in Quebec or along the waterways in Ottawa. So it makes sense to see the region as one entity.
If we would see the region as one large area how would our scores look like and how would it compare?
The network rating is calculated by weighing the network score at 80% and the community score at 20%. If we average out the network and the community scores of the two cities and then multiply by 80% and 20% respectively, we end up with a city rating for the NCR of 57. The region’s average network score would be equal to the one of Quebec City, QC and Queens, NY and the region’s average community score (56) would be equal to cities like San Jose, Edmonton, Toronto, Winnipeg and Sacramento.
97th percentile in overall ratings for the region
In the overall category that would be a 25th spot out of 1105 (97th percentile) and in the large city category a 4th place between Calgary and Vancouver. Basically it means that Ottawa-Gatineau has just as good a cycling environment as Vancouver and better than a city like Portland, OR. This Oregon city is often seen as the example for urban cycling: it ranks 39th in the overall standings and 10th in the large city category.
How about Toronto in the People for Bikes city ratings?
Toronto barely makes it to the top 100 of 1105 cities ranked with a city rating of 45 (91th percentile).
In the Large Cities ranking, Toronto ranks 16th out of 85 cities, or in the 81st percentile. Its network score (42) drags the city down unfortunately. Toronto has a similar score as Kitchener and Burnaby in Canada and Imperial Beach and Detroit in the US.
Not a contest
Like I emphasized last year, this is not about gold medals for the best city, but a guide to where to look at if a city wants to improve cycling (and walking for that matter as Multi Use Pathways serve both modes). May I suggest taking a close look at Montreal and Gatineau?
Read in a previous blog about Ottawa’s rankings here. If you want to go cycling in Gatineau (or a hike, or both) or in the region, take a look at my map of connected cycling infrastructure. Early October is a great time to visit; Gatineau Park is spectacular with its abundance of red, yellow and green Fall colours.
Note: People for Bikes uses open source data such as OpenStreetMap. OpenStreetMaps is maintained by (local) volunteers. If the maps are not up to date, it might affect the ratings.