CREBNow’s three-part series examining the news, community and culture of cycling in the city.
April 28 saw Calgary’s city council voting in favour of a downtown cycle track pilot.
The 8-7 vote comes on the heels of months of planning, community forums and debates on whether the track would be a feasible idea for downtown Calgary.
The pilot originally called for tracks on First Street S.E., Fifth Street S.W., Eighth Avenue W and Stephen Avenue, Ninth Avenue E, 12th Avenue and Eighth Street. Council, however, rejected the First Street S.E. leg of the track.
Appreciation for the decision was echoed by bike enthusiasts throughout the city. A “Calgarians for Cycle Tracks” Facebook page is plastered with photos of local residents and business owners showing signs of “We Support the Cycle Track Network”, social media site Twitter lit up with positive exclamations and cycle enthusiasts celebrated the decision with a gathering at The Palomino Smokehouse on Seventh Avenue.
“I’ve lived here my whole life, and Calgary keeps surprising me and exceeding my expectations,” said cyclist Calvin French. “[The cycle track is a] win-win for all road users. Even those opposed should at least like the predictability from having bikes in their own space.”
Also standing in support of the cycle track is The Calgary Chamber.
“What we’re hearing from our members is that Calgary’s ability to attract and retain a talented workforce is one of the biggest challenges to businesses and business growth,” said Justin Smith, Chamber director of policy. “And to the extent that amenities that approve our quality of life, such as a cycle track network, can help make Calgary a more attractive destination to a future labour force, the better it is for business. And our support came down to that.”
The 12-month cycle track pilot allows time for City Transportation to study how the network will affect downtown traffic, will connect existing pathways and will provide the same function a permanent track would, though with temporary barriers that can be removed if necessary.
“The cycle track network will have an impact, we have to be honest about that,” said Blanka Bracic, Transportation engineer with the City. “There will be some impact to people who are driving, however our [studies] show that this will be minimal and we think we can manage it with changes to the traffic signals.”
The one-year cycle track pilot begins in the summer of 2015.