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Research shows health benefits of public greenways

May 4 2016 Cycling up 49%, auto trips down 35%

Cyclist and pedestrians on Comox-Helmcken Greenway
Photograph by Paul Krueger

Two separate research studies show multiple health benefits for area residents from the development of the Comox-Helmcken Greenway.

We commissioned a study by the UBC Health and Community Design Lab, and partnered with the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility on another study entitled, “Active Streets, Active People”.

Both studies examined the effects of improved access to walking and cycling, and opportunities for social connection along the greenway.

People now walk and cycle more

The two studies looked at behaviour before and after the greenway was improved.

They found that people walked and cycled more, used an automobile less, increased their physical activity, and improved their physical and mental health.

Results included:

  • 16% increase in the number of days of moderate physical activity
  • 9.8% decrease in the number of days of poor mental and physical health
  • 49% increase in cycling trips  
  • 35% decrease in auto trips

Increased awareness of options

The results also showed increased awareness of local active transportation options including new cycling paths and continuous, accessible sidewalks, evidenced by increased use of Comox Street by local residents.

The majority of participants, 63%, felt that the changes along the greenway were either positive or neutral.

Specific feedback from the research that informed planning decisions for the greenway included the need for improved accessibility and comfort for older adults, such as the desire for:

  • Smooth walkways
  • Regularly-spaced benches
  • Other senior-friendly seating creating the opportunity to connect with other people

About the Comox Helmcken Greenway

We made an investment of $5 million in the Comox-Helmcken Greenway including public consultation in 2011-2012. Construction was completed in 2013.

The project aligns to our Healthy City Strategy, the Greenest City Action Plan, and the Transportation 2040 Plan.

The Comox-Helmcken Greenway is approximately 2 km long and is an important east-west connection through Downtown from False Creek to Stanley Park. 

Get details on the Comox-Helmcken Greenway