Cycle track network needs work

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The city finally unveiled the initial plans for a network of separated bike lanes, known as cycle tracks, in the inner city, with some good north-south routes, and another wasted opportunity to get people from east to west. 

There's the 1st street southeast cycle track that was announced earlier, allowing access from the Bow to the Elbow River pathways. There's now also a second route down 5th street, another great link, but one that stops dead at 17th Avenue. 

And then there's the east-west connection, or lack thereof. If you can make it out of downtown, you can enjoy a separated ride down 12th Avenue, but in the core the proposal is for a separated lane down part of 8th Avenue, ending at the Stephen Avenue mall. Bikes might be allowed on the mall outside of daytime hours. During the day? So far, nothing.

When it comes to bikes on Stephen Avenue, nobody seems all that excited, particularly the Calgary Downtown Association.

Nothing is yet set in stone, but it's incredibly frustrating to see this long-anticipated plan utterly fail to take the big steps needed to accomodate cyclists and increase the number of people riding. The excuse is that traffic would be affected along other routes, which fails to account for increased numbers of cyclists helping to reduce congestion, not to mention the fact that city is meant to prioritize pedestrians and cyclists over cars in  transportation decisions. If we're trying to make a change, let's make a change.

What are cyclists supposed to do once they reach the invisible wall of the Stephen Avenue mall? Dismount and walk the rest of the way? Risk it on 5th or 6th Avenue? Go four blocks south to get onto 12th Avenue and then ride back into downtown and walk partway to their destination? 

Those wishing to provide feedback can do so throughout the first half of February, with three open houses planned. Or you can always contact your councillor.

more in City     |     posted Feb 5th, 2014 at 3:10pm     

Comments: 18

mx80 wrote:

Join the conversation here:

on Feb 8th, 2014 at 9:04am Report Abuse

GaryBeaton wrote:

Drew has sparked a pretty good debate "What Chu Talking About"
Better yet at the Hotel Arts one could debate cycling with Sean Chu in person, Rick Bell, Richard Poon (what does shark fin soup have to do with cycling? fame), Carole Buchanan, the bike brats from twitterverse, or TransDep's cyclocheerleaders.
Nothing, absolutely nothing beats live performance.
But like Rick Bell I have to ask why only six bikes?
How is Montreal mx80? Too much snow for cycling?

on Feb 11th, 2014 at 7:03am Report Abuse

Drew Anderson wrote:

Might have been the lack of bike racks in front of the hotel. Should have looked over at the Hop in Brew or the Drum. Not sure if there were any more, but was probably worth looking across the street to where the racks are.

on Feb 11th, 2014 at 9:20am Report Abuse

GaryBeaton wrote:

Excellent idea Drew that City should we chose a venue that accommodates bikes to make a big bike network announcement!?
No bikes at Hop n Brew (until after the open house closed) and no need for Gary to park on the other side of the street (lots of parking BTW) because there was space in front of Hotel Arts. It started at 5 pm and I arrived at 6 pm.
Maybe TransDep should get a communications/media relations expert to help with the optics and propaganda? Just sayin'.

on Feb 11th, 2014 at 4:45pm Report Abuse

rube wrote:

City says what, 4% of downtown commuters use bicycles? One for every 25 people? So if the conference had less than 150 people, six bikes isn't too bad, right?

on Feb 11th, 2014 at 5:30pm Report Abuse

GaryBeaton wrote:

Calgary has a ballpark population of a million people. Six bikes show up for a very well publicized roll out of a long awaited bike network fuelled by a controversy the day before over putting bikes on a pedestrian mall.
Consultants and bureaucrats are paid to say what they say but the other 999,980 Calgarians might wonder why all the bother for 6 cyclists?
Very bad optics from a marketing perspective and it makes the case for cycling very difficult to a public that is already sceptical. The Tour de Nuit is trying to market cycling to the world we have unlike Drew who would have us market to the world we would like to be living in.

on Feb 12th, 2014 at 7:41am Report Abuse

Drew Anderson wrote:

Is there something in this post that suggests I'm a gushing, uncritical fan Gary? This is the reason people don't talk to you, not because there's some TransDep conspiracy against your or your group. Best of luck.

on Feb 12th, 2014 at 9:16am Report Abuse

mx80 wrote:

I parked around the corner on 1 St, where the bike racks are. No bike racks in front of Hotel Arts. Didn't see your bike there Gary, did you drive your van? It was a bit nippy that evening, after all.

on Feb 12th, 2014 at 11:19am Report Abuse

Clairvoyant wrote:

"Great White North" Got that? Calgary will not have, in the foreseeable future, the high percentage of bicycle commuters that is true for southern places like LA and Houston. :)
rube: Can you tell me if the statistic of "4% of downtown commuter use bicycles" is for fine summer days, or snowy winter days, or the worst cold snowy winter days? And just for clarity, does 4% of downtown commuters use bicycles" means that they use their bicycle to commute almost every day that they are working, or only once every ?? days? And just for clarity, does the 4% of downtown commuters use bicycles" mean that they all use bicycles for commuting, or are some of those using their bicycles mostly or only recreationally?

on Feb 12th, 2014 at 11:32am Report Abuse

mx80 wrote:

We will never have the high percentage of bicycle commuters that Houston has? We already have a 5 times higher percentage of bicycle commuters than Houston!

on Feb 13th, 2014 at 10:21am Report Abuse

Clairvoyant wrote:

To mx80: Sorry, but I thought a bit of humour, a touch of sarcasm might be okay. And that the emoticon would be a dead give away. However, the main point was and is: in the "Great White North", there will not be, within the foreseeable future, a high percentage of bicycle commuters.

on Feb 13th, 2014 at 1:23pm Report Abuse

mx80 wrote:

Says you. Every northern city in Europe or Canada that's built safe bike infrastructure knows otherwise.

on Feb 13th, 2014 at 4:43pm Report Abuse

Clairvoyant wrote:

To mx80: Where can I find those statistics? Do they apply to winter? Do they apply to the urban area, not just to the urban core (e.g. in the old designations, GTO or just the City of Toronto)? Remember, "Great White North", so Victoria and Vancouver aren't really there in terms of weather. So the Canadian cities are Edmonton, Calgary, Regina, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, Sudbury, London Toronto (GTO), Montreal, Quebec City, St. John, Halifax, St. John's, maybe a few others. Which of these has a high percentage of winter bicycle commuters? (high means same order of magnitude as automobiles or public transit)

Downtown Amsterdam, probably: but it has not been part of the Great White North since the end of the little ice age. And the greater Amsterdam area? Please show me the data on which European municipal regions that have our type of Great White North weather have a high percentage of winter bicycle commuters?

For those locations where there are high percentages of winter bicycle commuters, is that because the people want to bicycle, or is it because they have been taxed into submission? I.e. free choice, or compulsion?

I await your data with great interest.

on Feb 13th, 2014 at 9:55pm Report Abuse

mx80 wrote:

Oh, sorry, I didn't realize that a transportation mode is only worthy of investment if it transports >30% of the people. I guess it was a big mistake to build all these sidewalks. After all, we'll never have the same number of people walking to work as are driving or taking transit, right, with our winters?

I thought we were having a reasonable discussion. I also thought we were talking about downtown. This article is about the downtown cycle track network, right?

on Feb 16th, 2014 at 2:40pm Report Abuse

Clairvoyant wrote:

To mx80: I do try to be "reasonable".
Is comparing sidewalks to cycle tracks reasonable? Cycle tracks are for commuter bicyclists, the 1%. Everybody, the 99%, use sidewalks for a thousand different purposes: sidewalks are not just for "commuter pedestrians. To compare sidewalks with cycle tracks is not reasonable.
Is it unreasonable to consider how many people will actually use the cycle tracks, and when? The idea of using downtown sidewalks for cycle tracks has been validly shot down. So the cycle tracks will take a lane that is currently used for automobiles: buses, trucks, taxis, emergency vehicles, HOVs, SOVs, and motorcycles. If putting in the cycle tracks does not convert a significantly large number of drivers and bus riders to bicycles, in all seasons, then the outcome is greater congestion with the unintended consequence of increasing Calgary's carbon footprint. It would seem to me that it is reasonable to query the probable number of users.
Is it reasonable to consider downtown in isolation? I think not. I presume that most of the commuter bicyclists come from outside the immediate core area. Does the City proceed with more brilliant (that's sarcasm in case you missed my intent) innovations like 10th St NW, and the re-built-rebuilt Charleswood rubber? Are the downtown cycle tracks the newest version of the bridge to nowhere? So it's reasonable to want to understand the city-wide picture.
And I am waiting with reasonable patience for those statistics.

on Feb 18th, 2014 at 4:28pm Report Abuse

GaryBeaton wrote:

To Clairvoyant:
You are not holding your breath waiting for MX80 to respond with some numbers are you?
Should someone call 911?

on Feb 20th, 2014 at 11:46am Report Abuse

Clairvoyant wrote:

Gary: No need for 911. But after 21 days, I need to take another breath. :) Come on MX80, some data please.

on Mar 4th, 2014 at 8:20pm Report Abuse

ambivalent wrote:

"too much snow to cycle year round yeah but calgary is a WINTER city but snow"

Uh, guys? Oulu, Finland is further north, on average colder, and more consistently snow covered than Calgary is. Calgary has it easy compared to a town at 65 degrees north latitude.

I don't ride in the winter for transportation because I don't have a separated network to carry me safely to my center city destinations, and this winter there's a lot of pathway closures because of the flood. Soon as it happens I'll be able to ride year round.

My first year with a bike I bought my studded tires and my gear but i quit. why? not the cold. the cars. drivers in this town are rude and hostile to cyclists. They're scary, and if they kill me the worst they'll get is a hundred dollar fine. Demanding that more people ride on the streets as they are now only maintains the status quo.

I can't ask drivers to be more courteous to me. The attitude is that they own the road and I have no business being on it. so the only real solution is to create a safe space for me and my bike.

So yeah, I'm a fair-weather cyclist. but the reasons aren't to do with the conditions of the weather (there is no such thing as bad weather, only inadequate gear) but my safety in an increasingly hostile environment.

my warm weather trips are long because I have to use the pathways as most of my route, which is very pretty, don't get me wrong. But I don't feel safe on the streets with aggressive, neglectful motorists and no barrier keeping me safe from them.

and if that's what you've wanted all along, well grats. It's working. Way to be awesome.

on Mar 20th, 2014 at 12:04pm Report Abuse

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