30 Days of biking 2016 edition: “the commuting myth”

I took meticulous notes about where I traveled using my bike in April and how much I spent.  And my results show that we may want to reconsider the importance of “Bike to Work” months, when the majority of my trips were not to my workplace.

77% of my biking destinations were not my workplace.



So, where did I travel in April? Mostly within a 5km distance with a few exceptions.

Full-size strava april2016

What I found was that shopping and childcare were the bulk of my destinations.

Type of trip Number of Destinations
Shopping 32
Childcare and recreation 36
Workplace 20

I then recorded all of my stops and where I spent money in a Google Map.


Don’t judge me.  I like eating out.  And it’s a luxury when you don’t have car payments or bus passes to buy.

Let’s zoom in to one of my shopping hotspots!  Oooh boy, imagine how many more people would feel like shopping here with a bike lane instead of sharrows?  $$$$  : )  $$$$


If I only look at a 2km radius from my house, I spent $1025 at local businesses.

If I expand that to 5km, the total grows to $1269.

Still think bikes don’t mean business?  Still think “bike to work month” is the right strategy?

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Comments: 10

  1. bruce says:

    Thanks for taking the time to do this. It’s really important to have a good picture like this when talking to people about transportation and in particular, biking. It seems that almost all discussions about transportation conveniently boil down to (usually) misinformed whims and opinion, even with the professionals who should know better. I’ll be happy to be able to speak about this next time the conversation comes up, and I hope it’s an inspiration for more people to contribute data like this and maybe one day Ottawa can have some realistic transportation and cycling conversations.

    • Lana says:

      Thanks! Counting kms and tracking CO2 emissions is an interesting challenge – but given the types of debates we face regarding street parking – I wonder if it’s the best strategy.

  2. David Delasol says:

    I think I will do this for May, but I believe my results will vary wildly from yours. I commute by bike often, but rarely shop by bike. It simply isn’t convenient for me, whereas biking to work is. Maybe that has something to do with the focus on “Bike To Work Month” is that it is easier to get people to bike to work than it is to get them to carry their groceries by bike.

    • Lana says:

      It doesn’t have to be groceries – bike to a cafe, to the library… find a short destination and go there. Or – I’d at least be happier if the messaging around “Bike to Work Month” was geared (ha) to make cycling a part of your commute (or all of it).

  3. Dana says:

    How did you account for trips with multiple purposes? For example, this morning I biked my son to school, stopped at the library to return a book, and then completed my commute to work. I am interested in doing something similar in my area.

    • Lana says:

      I didn’t count ‘trips’ – I just counted destinations. Like you, on my way home from work, I pick my son up, take him to an activity, get groceries. I’m not sure my methodology is scientifically sound. : )

  4. Jessica says:

    I’m keen on doing this too, it sounds silly, but how did you manage your admin, just so others can get some tips on doing this.

    • Lana says:

      If you open up my Google map, I added each destination and then number of trips / money spent there. At the end of the month, I tallied it in Excel to make the pie chart.