Rolling along

Expanded downtown cycle track set to open

Calgary cyclists dreaming of a road to call their town will soon see those dreams become reality.

Adding to Calgary’s existing cycling infrastructure, four downtown streets will soon see the addition of dedicated bike lanes.

Along with a shared space running down a section of Stephen Avenue, the four new lanes will transform Fifth Street S.W., Eighth, Ninth and 12th avenues into bike-friendly routes as part of a pilot project by the City of Calgary.

“Everyone knows that we have an extensive pathway network – one of the most extensive in North America. It’s widely popular and it limits your interaction and your conflict with cars,” said City of Calgary cycling co-ordinator Tom Thivener.

“It feels really comfortable when you’re on it, but when you get into downtown, how do you get that last kilometre to the office tower or to the destination that you’re trying to get to? Essentially, the cycle track network is the attempt to bring that pathway experience into the heart of the centre city.”

The new lanes will help accommodate the 11,000 trips that are made in and out of the core every day – a number that has increased by 122 per cent since 1996, according to the City.

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Set to open in late June, Thivener said the 6.5 kilometres of new lanes should help make things easier for cyclists, as well as pedestrians and motorists.

“We find that many cyclists in the downtown now ride on the sidewalk, which is technically illegal, or they just go out in traffic and sometimes there are conflicts between the moving cars and the bikes,” he said.

Looking to the existing cycle track along Seventh Avenue as an example, which opened in July 2013 and regularly sees more than 1,000 cylists per day, Thivener hopes the new lanes will add “thousands” more cyclists to the city and help reduce some of the stress on Calgary’s existing transportation network.

“We’re essentially adding more capacity. We’re taking the four lanes on 12th Avenue today and making five lanes – the bike lanes being two of them.”

The four new bike lanes will be re-evaluated by council in fall 2016.

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