On a sunny and but crisp Thursday morning, a cyclist flies by on the Galloping Goose trail near Royal Roads, earning a studious tick on Brynne Croy’s chart.
For two hours, the Capital Regional District volunteer watched carefully where the cyclists came from and where they’re headed – most veer into the university, some stick to the trail and a few share Sooke Road with morning commuters.
“It’s a pretty constant flow. There’s a lot of (cycling) traffic off the Goose into Royal Roads,” said Croy, 29, with her own bike propped up nearby.
It’s all part of the largest cycling survey ever conducted in the Greater Victoria. Counters hit 31 locations over three days this week in an attempt to gauge how many cyclists are out there, where are they going, and what cycling infrastructure they’d like to see.
In turn, that survey will feed into the larger Origin-Destination Household Travel Survey, where a research company will seek to interview 6,000 households across the region and the southern Cowichan Valley to get a measure of their travel habits. The CRD says the travel survey will help it plan roadways, trails and bike lanes.
Croy is among a small army of volunteers out early in the morning and late afternoon to catch commuting cyclists. She herself is part of a “car-free family.”
“I want to make sure efforts like this are supported. I want to make sure cycling infrastructure is present,” she said. “I love my bike. I like being present in the environment, at seeing things at a human pace.”
The cycling survey will help focus priorities for the CRD’s cycling master plan, which rolled out earlier this year. The plan envisions increasing cycling to at least 15 per cent of all travel modes region-wide, up from about three per cent now.
“We need strong data to show where the (cycling) growth is,” said CRD research planner Sue Hallatt. “We’ve got ad hoc data from municipalities and cycling advocates have done counts, but now it’s time to pull it all together for a baseline.”
Bike survey volunteers are also conducting short on-the-spot interviews with cyclists. Most plan their routes away from heavy traffic and most rides are relatively short, about 10 minutes, Hallatt said.
“Their No. 1 request would be more bike lanes. No. 2 is more secure bike lockups,” she said. “We heard a lot how they loved the Goose, how they love their regional trails.”
The cycling master plan calls for $275 million worth of new bike lanes, including 360 kilometres of separated on-street lanes. With the Goose, the Lochside trail and the E&N rail-trail as the backbone, the CRD wants all regional municipalities interconnected through bike lane networks.
Langford, for one, has already embarked on its “spider bike plan,” a series of bike and walking trails connecting the city, the Goose and the E&N rail-trail. Langford built a pilot road separated lane on Millstream Road.
Hallatt said cycling advocates often quote cycling statistics and trends from other bike-friendly cities, such as Portland, Ore., and Copenhagen, Denmark, to argue the merits of funding cycling infrastructure.
“We need to start quoting ourselves, we need to know our own data and this is the start of that,” Hallatt said. “All this data is a snapshot of peoples’ experience cycling in the region in October 2011, and next year we will see if there is any difference.”