The award-winning city of Markham in Ontario province has put in a cycling track along its Highway 7. (Markham Bicycle Friendly Communities 2020 Application)

Canadian communities recognized for being bicycle friendly

Cycling has become ever more popular in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic to the point that many bicycle shops are running out of stock. As more people take up cycling, several communities have made efforts to make the activity safer  and more enjoyable.

Every year, Canadian communities are considered for a Bicycle Friendly Communities award program sponsored by the non-profit Share the Road Cycling Coalition and the Canadian Automobile Association, a non-profit that provides services to drivers but also advocates for road safety.

The program seeks to provide guidance, inspiration and recognition for communities that actively support cycling. They are judged in the four categories. The engineer category judges physical infrastructure and hardware to support cycling. Education judges programs and campaigns that give people on bikes and in cars the knowledge, skills and confidence to share the road safely. The encouragement category looks at incentives, promotions and opportunities that inspire and enable people to ride. The evaluation and planning category examines the processes that demonstrate a commitment to measuring results and planning for the future.

The city of Markham promotes cycling by holding activities such as a children’s race and a cycling day. (Markham Bicycle Friendly Communities 2020 Application)

“While no two communities at a given award level look the same, there is a shared commitment to provide residents and visitors with options and opportunities to cycle,” said Subha Ramanathan, Bicycle Friendly Communities Manager. “There are many paths to becoming bicycle friendly.Our BFC award program helps communities track their progress, learn from one another, and receive public acknowledgement for their efforts. The structure and feedback that we provide encourages continuous improvement over time.”

In 2021, the top silver awards went to:

  • Canmore, Alberta 
  • Collingwood, Ontario 
  • Cornwall, Ontario  
  • Markham, Ontario 
  • Oakville, Ontario  
  • Thunder Bay, Ontario 

Bronze awards went to:

  • Calgary, Alberta 
  • Kelowna, British Columbia 
  • Petawawa, Ontario  
  • Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Honourable mentions went to:

  • Bracebridge, Ontario  
  • Port Alberni, British Columbia 
  • Stratford, Ontario 

The province of Quebec which has long promoted cycling was not included because it has its own set of awards.

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