Number of cyclists who commute unchanged from 2006 to 2011: Statistics Canada

Gearing up for a busy cycling season. Lluis Gene / AFP / Getty Images

OTTAWA – The waterfront bike ride from Jon Domanko’s home in Toronto’s west end to his downtown office leaves him feeling alert and refreshed in a way he just isn’t when he takes the car to work.

“The days that I bike in, I feel like I hit the desk running. I get in, I load up my computer and I’m working immediately,” said Domanko, who cycles from Roncesvalles-High Park to his job at Coca-Cola Canada.

“My boss might not like to hear this, but the days I drive in or take the streetcar, just like everyone you have the half-hour of sort of getting warmed up, getting into the swing of things so it definitely helps productivity.”

But if the latest National Household Survey is any indication, not all commuters are quite as gung-ho as Domanko about cycling to work.

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The latest batch of data from Statistics Canada shows no difference in the percentage of Canadians who rode their bike to work in 2011 and 2006.

That number remains unchanged at 1.3 per cent. That works out to 201,785 cyclists out of more than 15 million commuters.

So why aren’t more people peddling to the office?

Statistics Canada isn’t really sure.

“What we’ve seen in the past is that for every age group, there’s not necessarily a decrease in proportion of people cycling,” said Martin Turcotte, a senior analyst at Statistics Canada.

“We know that younger people are more likely to cycle to work. But at the same time, the population is aging, so it’s possible that there’s a structural effect of population aging on this trend.”

Long commutes don’t seem to be the reason that there aren’t more people biking to work.

The National Household Survey data suggests the commute for most cyclists lasts between 15 and 29 minutes. The second-most cited commute time is less than 15 minutes. Only a small percentage spend more than an hour cycling to work.

Nor does it appear cyclists have to leave their homes at the crack of dawn just to make it to work on time.

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Most cyclists have to leave the house between the hours of 8 and 9 a.m., the data shows. That’s followed closely by a departure time that falls between 7 and 8 a.m.

Cyclists say they would much rather get behind the handlebars than sit in their cars during morning rush hour.

“In the cities where I have biked I’ve found that I’ve been able to move around a lot more easily and learn more about just the ways that the cities work,” said Allendria Brunjes, who lives in Toronto.

“You can see everything around you, you can smell everything around you, you can you know feel the air in certain places.”

Getting some exercise is another benefit, she added.

“It’s a really good way to make sure that I’m also being physical, and you know if you’re working in a desk job it’s not going to be as easy to do that,” Brunjes said.

“We are allowed to keep our bikes in the office so that we don’t have to worry about them going missing over lunch or something like that. So that’s a plus.”

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