Traditionally, it has been assumed that the percentage of commuting trips made on foot or by bicycle is low in most towns and cities. While that might be the reality when considering the entire working population, perhaps a better spin can be put on it if you consider just those that live and work in the same town or city.
If we look at the typical calculation of mode share, the number that walked and cycled, divided by the employed population, we see, with the exception of a few locations, pretty low numbers. And for all the towns and cities in BC listed below, the average is 8.2%. Walking and cycling are therefore seen as somewhat insignificant modes.
However, if we consider only those residents that work in the same town or city that they live in, i.e., those that live close enough to work that they could walk or cycle, the percentages change quite dramatically. The average increases from 8.2% to 20% of people walking or cycling to work, suggesting walking and cycling is a much more valid mode for those that have that option.
In conclusion, the simple mode share percentage of walking and cycling provided by census data may not be telling the whole story of the demand for these modes if you include those that live and work too far apart for those modes to be a realistic travel option.
When it comes to prioritizing infrastructure improvements in the municipal budget, looking at the mode share from this perspective may lead us to focus more spending on the modes used within the municipality itself rather than funding improvements for those who leave it every day.