This article is part of a series called Six sustainability ideas that have gone mainstream in Canada. Each article explores an innovative sustainability idea that may have seemed radical a decade ago but is now considered a best practice. The series features inspiring ideas and projects being implemented in Canadian cities and towns of all sizes, plus resources to help you implement these solutions in your community.

Cyclists riding on Ottawa bike path in winter.


Cyclists riding on Ottawa bike path in winter.

A chilly challenge: The City of Ottawa, ON, was faced with the challenge of reducing automobile dependency in a winter city with far-flung suburban areas. Their response was to launch an ambitious transportation plan that combines high-quality transit with safe and accessible year-round cycling infrastructure, aiming for 66 per cent of all trips to the city core to be made via public transit or bike.

Sustainable solution: Ottawa's innovative approach combines city-wide land-use planning that supports transit and cycling with integrated cycling-transit services such as bike racks for buses and a Bike and Ride program. The city has also developed dedicated cycling infrastructure, such as segregated bike lanes, "Complete Streets" and a winter cycling network.

Green benefits: Integrating cycling with transit is effective because it provides options for cyclists during bad weather and increases the accessibility and reach of public transit by encouraging trips that combine both modes. And it's having a big impact: just one initiative — the award-winning Laurier Avenue Segregated Bike Lane Project — succeeded in quadrupling cycling trips on that road, reducing roadway operation and maintenance expenses and almost doubling the cycle mode share in the downtown core.

Success secrets: Some of the reasons for Ottawa's success include promoting integrated options for biking and walking, focusing on key route connectivity and quality rather than total kilometres, and using electronic monitoring data to track and report on success. 

Looking for ways to increase cycling levels in your community?

Learn more about the City of Ottawa's projects with these resources: 

Discover more sustainability ideas and project examples

Read the other articles in this series for more sustainability ideas and project examples that you can use in your community:

This series was inspired by "From Crazy to Common Sense: 'Radical' Ideas Whose Time Have Come," a workshop that was held at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities' 2016 Sustainable Communities Conference.

Move ideas to reality: Get funding and free resources from FCM's Green Municipal Fund

Subscribe to email updates and get the resources, training, networking opportunities and funding you need from FCM's Green Municipal Fund to implement these sustainability ideas in your community.

2019 Federation of Canadian Municipalities