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Active Transportation


Active transportation measures how many people walk or bike to work.

Why This Matters

Transportation is an important and unavoidable part of our daily lives, whether we are going to work, school, or social gatherings. Active transportation is being increasingly embraced by cities as a transportation mode that provides multiple benefits, including improved citizen health, decreased road damage, better air quality, decreased costs to commuters, increased social interactions and even higher property values (City of Winnipeg, 2011). Active transportation is closely linked to the natural environment, in that it is a carbon-free mode of transportation and does not impact air quality.

Active transportation has a close connection with health. The World Health Organization (2002) reports physical inactivity causes roughly 3.2 million deaths each year. Moderate physical activity, such as walking and cycling, reduces the risk of illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, colon cancer, breast cancer and depression. Using active transportation to get to work can provide enough activity to obtain these health benefits. Johan de Hartog et al. (2010) suggest that a person travelling 7.5 kilometres by bike to and from work (roughly 30 minutes of exercise) will meet minimum exercise requirements to improve their health. The authors estimate that active transportation can add 3 to 14 months to a person’s life expectancy.

Active transportation also relates closely to the built environment. When cities provide well-maintained and interconnected bike lanes and walking paths, as well as features such as traffic calming, their citizens will be more likely to use active transportation (Frank et al., 2006; Winters et al., 2010).

Measurement and Limitations

The active transportation indicator shows the percentage of people who walk or bicycle as their primary mode of transportation to work. All members of the labour force aged 15 years and over who worked at some time over the previous year are included.

This indicator does not take into account individual variation in the mode of transportation taken to work. For instance, an individual who drives a car to work 60 per cent of the time and bicycles 40 per cent of the time would only be recorded as using an automobile. This indicator also does not account for transportation used for outings not related to work.

Additionally, this indicator does not take into account differences in distance. An individual bicycling 5 kilometres to work is not differentiated from an individual who bicycles 15.

Data Source

Statistics Canada collects this data for each census year. Recent data can be accessed at:

The most recent data for this indicator was made available in 2016. This data is updated for each census year, as the data becomes available.

More detail about this indicator can be found in Peg’s 2017 Wellbeing Report on the Natural and Built Environment:


City of Winnipeg (2011). An active city is a vibrant city. Retrieved from

Frank, L.D., Sallis, J.F., Conway, T.L, Chapman, J.E., Saelens, B.E., & Bachman, W. (2007). Many pathways from land use to health: Associations between neighborhood walkability and active transportation, body mass index, and air quality. Journal of the American Planning Association, 72(1), 75-87.

Johan de Hartog, J., Boogaard, H., Nijland, H., & Hoek, G. (2010). Do the health benefits of cycling outweigh the risks? Environmental Health Perspectives, 118(8), 1109-1116.

Winters, M., Brauer, M., Setton, E.M., & Teschke, K. (2010). Built environment influences on healthy transportation choices: Bicycling versus driving. Journal of Urban Health, 87(6), 969-993.

World Health Organization (2012). Physical activity. Retrieved from


Active Transportation in the Sustainable Development Goals

Click on the SDG to reveal more information

11. Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
11. Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

11. Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

Cities are hubs for ideas, commerce, culture, science, productivity, social development and much more. At their best, cities have enabled people to advance socially and economically.

However, many challenges exist to maintaining cities in a way that continues to create jobs and prosperity while not straining land and resources. Common urban challenges include congestion, lack of funds to provide basic services, a shortage of adequate housing and declining infrastructure.

The challenges cities face can be overcome in ways that allow them to continue to thrive and grow, while improving resource use and reducing pollution and poverty. The future we want includes cities of opportunities for all, with access to basic services, energy, housing, transportation and more.