Aaron Stayner began commuting by bike three years ago and made the decision to ditch his daily drive for health and financial reason. Cody Stuart / CREB®Now

Winter may have put the chill on cycling for many Calgarians, but the City of Calgary’s recent Winter Cycling Congress cast a spotlight on Calgary’s efforts to make two-wheeled transport accessible for even more Calgarians.

Now in it’s seventh year, the annual gathering of experts explores opportunities for cycling in cold-climate cities to inform the construction and maintenance of year-round cycling infrastructure.

“I think the best thing that Calgary has going for it is that Calgarians are so active,” said Tom Thivener, the City of Calgary’s active transportation planner. “Everyone seems to be so accustomed to winter sports and I think that ties in nicely with the cycling scene. But as we’ve been growing the cycling track over the last several years, it’s really opened up commuting.”

According to Thivener, the number of Calgarians choosing to commute by bike has “nearly doubled” since 2011, with more than 9,000 Calgarians making the trip downtown daily, as of the City’s last bike count.

The popularity of cycling in the city is also reflected in numbers released by Lime Bike. After launching in Calgary last fall, the bike-sharing company recently saw more than 700 users in a single day across its fleet of 325 bikes.

“I chose to commute by bike for exercise, health and cost savings versus driving, and it’s fun to do and not stressful like driving can be.” – Aaron Stayner, bike commuter

With the City mandating cycling infrastructure in new communities, there’s a possibility even more Calgarians could be ditching their gas pedals in favour of bike pedals.

As someone who made the switch to bike commuting three years ago, Aaron Stayner says there were several reasons behind his decision.

“I chose to commute by bike for exercise, health and cost savings versus driving, and it’s fun to do and not stressful like driving can be,” he said.

The ability to bike to work rather than drive is something Stayner says has impacted where his family lives in the city, and it would play a role in any future homebuying decisions, too.

“The ability to commute by bike has affected where we live, as when looking to make our last move, proximity to the pathway system was one of the considerations we had,” he said. “We would definitely not look to move to a dwelling where the inability to bike to work would be a factor. Same for a new job – ability to access it via bike would play a role and facilities for bike riders like showers and storage on site.”

More information on the City’s ongoing cycling strategy, including information on the Winter Cycling Congress, can be found on the City of Calgary website.