Figure 1: Study Area: City of Guelph, Ontario.
The study area to be examined is the City of Guelph which is located in south central Ontario approximately 100 km west of the City of Toronto, Ontario, Canada (Figure 1). Guelph spans 87.20 square kilometers and as of the 2011 census, is home to approximately 122 000 people (City of Guelph 2012). This city is a good setting to investigate cycling habits because it offers a wide range of urban cycling options and conditions: bike lanes, wide-shouldered roads, paved trails, and dirt paths (City of Guelph, 2015). The majority of the city is relatively flat, except for two steep hills rising from the river that runs northeast to southwest through the city’s core. In a city wide survey, more than half of respondents reported cycling once a week or more and 31% reported cycling every day (City of Guelph, 2015). High cycling potential among the citizens warrants research into the potential for identifying alternative routes for bicyclists in the city which avoid main arteries and high congestion or potentially dangerous areas. The street network in Guelph does not follow a strict grid system, especially with pieced expansion of the suburban areas, so identifying alternative routes requires more than simply taking the next street over (Aultman-Hall et al. 1997). With a street network and citizen base like those present in Guelph, GIS and spatial analysis techniques provide appropriate methods to determine alternative cycling routes.