In a response to Saturday’s Gazette article on the city’s car-bike-pedestrian power struggle, a reader asked: “Enough of this story. When was the last time you saw anybody who rides a bicycle to work who actually owns that business and employs people?”
This picture was resurrected from Jacob Larsen’s summer post on dangerous intersections.
Although I don’t share the sentiment, my curiosity was piqued. It seems that I share the bike paths with people of all types (perhaps even business owners), and it’s easy to see that more people are cycling regularly every year. Vélo Quebec reports an oft-cited number of 50,000 Montreal cyclists who biked year-round in 2005. Their most recent study is packed with all sorts of info on who bikes in the province.
But, it doesn’t report the numbers of cyclists by occupation. For that I had to dig into the 2001 Census, at this point ancient history (the 2006 individual responses have not been made public yet). So who are they (or, at least, who were they in 2001)?
In the publicly-available sample, 696 survey respondents between the ages of 15 and 68 indicated that they cycled regularly to work in the Montreal metropolitan area. The most highly represented occupation in the sample? Those working in the service industry as supervisors, sales-persons, and assistants accounted for 23% of cycle-commuters. Perhaps they are not the business owners along the de Maisonneuve bike path, but I’m sure plenty of those business owners depend upon their employees to arrive by bike in the morning.
Other highly represented occupations included those working in arts, culture and recreation (11%), clerical workers (10%), and teachers and professors (6%). These percentages can be assumed to have reflected the wider population of Montreal’s cycle-commuters in 2001.
Of course, in today’s Bixi euphoria, expanding bike paths, and more bikepath snow-plowing, there’s a totally different mix of cyclists on the roads. I bet there’s a lot more business owners.