More cyclists, no lanes

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According to Bike Calgary, there's good news and there's bad news in the latest count of commuters entering the downtown core, at least in terms of cycling. The good news: the number of cyclists commuting into work is up 20 per cent from last year (1 in 17 vehicles). The bad news: there's not a single bike lane in the entire core.

Bike Calgary has a great blog post breaking down the numbers, complete with an infographic outlining how cyclists are accessing the downtown core. It points out that the numbe of cyclists is up 40 per cent since 2006, when the count began. The fact that the count is in February dispels notions that nobody rides their bike in the winter.

The Peace Bridge is now number two in terms of how many cyclists use to cross into downtown, and Bike Calgary uses that number to push the new cycle track proposed for 7th Street S.W. It makes sense to use that corridor to shuttle people into the caverns of office towers, but it also falls short.The Bike Calgary post higlights that 1 in 7 of the collisions between cars and cyclists in the core happens within a block of that proposed lane, but it's unclear whether that's on 7th, or the result of other roadways.

While the 7th Street cycle track (which is just fancy talk for a separated bike lane) is welcome, it's not necessarily the best place to start, or at least shouldn't be done in isolation.

Once you've entered the core, east-west connections are nowhere to be found. You can ride the southern edge on the low speed limit pathway, but then you're still just skirting the edge. You can have some room on 8th Avenue S.W., but you'll end up at Stephen Avenue Mall where you have to dismount or face a ticket during the day.

The Calgary Tour de Nuit society has been pushing for separated lanes on 5th and 6th Avenues for years, which for some reason has fallen on deaf ears. According to Gary Beaton, the president of Tour de Nuit, these avenues are ideal for bike lanes, with more room, and better access into the core. It makes sense to include these with any north-south connections.

One thing is clear, with the number of cyclists increasing on downtown roads, something has to be done. This is particularly true when looking at the Bike Calgary numbers which highlight that 1 in 8 bike/car collisions happen in the core.

I'm not arguing against the 7th Street lane, but we have to look further than a small solution to a transportation problem that is only going to get worse, and east-west should be a priority in those discussions.



more in City     |     posted Feb 12th, 2013 at 2:35pm     

Comments: 9

mx80 wrote:

To be fair, there is a plan in the works for additional downtown lanes. They'll include cycle tracks E-W and through the 5 St underpass. 5 and 6 Ave would be phenomenal, but a hard sell. Despite claims to the contrary, cycle tracks on 5 and 6 Ave will result in loss of parking, loss of a travel lane, and significnt construction at intersections. To think that you can just put down jersey barriers is more than naive.

on Feb 12th, 2013 at 3:26pm Report Abuse

Drew Anderson wrote:

Do you know where the proposed E-W lanes will be?

on Feb 12th, 2013 at 3:38pm Report Abuse

mx80 wrote:

Cycle track on 8 Ave connectign 7 St to 5 St underpass plus painted lanes, probably on 3 Ave, likely to happen in 2014. Planning for additional E-W and N-S connections includign cycle tracks starting now. See the Cycling Strategy update from November.


on Feb 12th, 2013 at 4:39pm Report Abuse

Drew Anderson wrote:

It's interesting, but it still doesn't address the need to get across downtown. That takes it about halfway. It would be nice to see real cross-town separated lanes, which I'm assuming 3rd might be? It almost seems as though the city wants to build the infrastructure, but is too scared to do it properly (backlash from loss of parking, etc.). It's understandable from a political point of view, but pretty frustrating at the same time.

on Feb 12th, 2013 at 4:50pm Report Abuse

Centreman wrote:

Bike lanes will never show up on 5/6th Ave for one simple reason - Tour de Nutjob's grand boobah, Gary Beaton has been the lone individual proposing it. He has single handedly irritated everyone at the City and none of them are going to do what he wants.

On a happier note, as mx80 mentioned, there are plans for E-W routes and I would not be surprised if at least one of them is installed before the end of 2014. I have read that 3 Ave SW is slated to get the treatment.

Regarding 8 Ave SW (The Mall) - Downtown Calgary association has been fighting against anything to do with bike infrastructure downtown and of course blocking any effort to see bikes allowed on the Mall. It's too bad really since studies show that bikers spend more money in shops than people who drive.

I think the most important thing to take from these rapidly increasing cyclist numbers is this - individual Calgarians from all walks of life see the benefits of biking and are dragging the City forward. The City, to their credit, recognized this when passing (and funding) the Cycle Strategy last year. At least we have that strategy and the funding to get things going. Once a few cycletracks are installed and people realize the sky hasn't fallen on them I suspect we can expect to see the network expanded out to the Beltline, Sunnyside, and Hillhurst - and points beyond. That expanded network will facilitate a successful bike share system too.

on Feb 13th, 2013 at 7:32am Report Abuse

Kirstin_M wrote:

I used to commute by bicycle through the downtown (I worked in Mission and lived north of the downtown). I don't understand what good bike lanes are going to do. I'm open to the idea, but when a bicyclist and cars both understand that bikes are vehicles, and that they're a bit slower and harder to see, things seem to go well.

When you add lanes that people have to make right turns through, then it gets a bit scary from my perspective.

But then, when I commuted to Mission, I just acted like a vehicle, obeyed the rules of the road, and I have never been in a car-bicycle collision. Touch wood.

And yes, a small minority of car drivers are psychopaths who just want to mow down a cyclist, because killing someone with a car isn't really punished in Canada. But this isn't going to fix that problem, either.

on Feb 16th, 2013 at 11:15pm Report Abuse

jamtart wrote:

Thank you Kirstin_M for your comment 'bikes are vehicles'. Your comment is a breath of fresh air. Separation creates confrontation.

on Feb 16th, 2013 at 11:48pm Report Abuse

Eastview wrote:

Just because bicycles are classified as vehicles doesn't mean they can't have their own dedicated lanes on the roadway. Dedicated lanes whether they are bike lanes or separated bike lanes improve the safety of bicyclists.

That's great if you enjoy taking the lane and riding with traffic but ask yourself if you want to see more Calgarians bicycling on the street with you. If the answer is yes because bicycling is great, then ask your neighbor,coworker, or average person why they don't bike now. If the answer has anything to do with safety, which it probably will, then ask what kind of infrastructure would it take to make them feel comfortable riding a bike on a roadway. Show them pictures of roadways with different bike facilities, like a road with no bike lane, a downtown road in Calgary with no bike lane with twin right turn lanes, a road with a bike lane and a road with a cycle track on it. A cycle track will probably be selected 8 times out of 10. The Calgary downtown street with twin right turn lanes will rank dead last.

The City has a page on the cycle track network. It is supposed to be determined this year.


on Feb 28th, 2013 at 9:17pm Report Abuse

paulhughes wrote:

In the giant playground of popularity that municipal politics has become, not everyone is welcome in the reindeer games. Ideas in this realm are rarely judged by their merit. Often it is the volume of cheerleading associated with hyped up trial balloon launches that dictates an ideas' life expectancy in starchy Bureaucity. It is indeed unfortunate that @Centreman has chosen to use this forum to attack Gary Beaton, a Calgary advocate/activist for cycling, including dedicated bike lanes. Gary is incredibly well researched and passionate about cycling. If he is guilty of anything, it would be his level of commitment and preparation that invariably catches uninspired bureaucrats and politicians off guard. Beaton's ideas are valid and beneficial to the Calgary cycling community.

on Mar 10th, 2013 at 2:50pm Report Abuse

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