Estimating VMT and GHG Reductions of Shifting Driving Commutes to Cycling in Canadian Cities

Authors: Qiao Zhao*, McGill University, Kevin Manaugh, McGill University
Topics: Transportation Geography, Urban and Regional Planning, Spatial Analysis & Modeling
Keywords: VTM, Commuting, Cycling, Modal Shift
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 33
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The transportation sector is a major contributor to Canada’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions which are linked to global climate change. Reducing vehicle miles travelled (VMT) over the long term is increasingly recognized as the key to reduce GHG emissions from the transportation sector but has not received as much attention as needed. The primary objective of this study is to investigate the potential for reducing VMT and GHG emissions by shifting short car trips to cycling, with a focus on 10 Canadian census metropolitan areas (CMAs). Based on commuting data from the Canadian Census of 2016, commuting patterns were explored from the perspective of commuting flows between suburbs and urban areas. Three scenarios were introduced to model environmental effects of a modal shift towards cycling based on characteristics of current bicycle trips. We found that automobiles were dominant in Canada, but nonmotorized transportation acted as the alternative mode to cars on short trips. Overall reduction of 15 percent can be achieved by a modal shift from car to cycling. Most census tracts (CTs) have low cycling potential in Toronto and Montreal, while many CTs in Victoria currently have over 40 percent of trips that could be reasonably cycled. In most CMAs, the potential is seen in inter-suburban trips which have implications about where future investments should occur. These findings showed that enhanced cycling commuting can reduce VMT and GHG emissions from car travel. Other mitigation measures are necessary for achieving GHG emissions reduction targets.

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