The right track

Calgary cycle track pilot seeing success in early days

For Calgarian Adrian Murphy, the opening of a second of four routes for the City’s cycle track pilot is welcome news.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” he said of the Fifth Street S.W. track, which opened June 12 and will allow him to cycle from his home in Mission to the 12th Avenue leg, which opened on June 4, and then to work.

Murphy isn’t alone in wanting to utilize the new tracks.

“We have seen a high number of people using the 12th Avenue track so far, with minimal traffic delays,” said Tom Thivener, projects co-ordinator with the City of Calgary.

“On opening day, an average of 893 trips were made by a bike in a 16-hour count in the middle of the route, and an average of 854 trips were made [June 2-7]. We hope to see this momentum continue with the opening of the Fifth Street route.”

Two remaining routes, on Eighth and Ninth avenues, are still under construction and expected to open at the end of the month. A bike lane on Seventh Street S.W. has been in place since July 2013.

With more than 12,500 bicycle trips in and out of downtown every day, and a 122 per cent increase in bicycle usage in the city since 1996, the pilot serves a growing need for safe access for bikes, say local cyclists.

“Many in the inner city live carless or a car-light lifestyle,” said Brendan Baines, environment director with the Cliff-Bungalow-Mission Community Association, who has lived “carless” for most of his life. “The cycle tracks are much needed infrastructure for residents of the dense core who see cars as overkill for a good chunk of their mobility needs.

“The tracks get bikes off the roads, and sidewalks; once we all adjust to the new infrastructure – which will take a little time – cars, pedals and shoes will all be better off.”

City council voted in favour of a downtown cycle track in April 2014. The pilot originally called for tracks on First Street S.E., Fifth Street S.W., Eighth Avenue W. and Stephen Avenue, Ninth Avenue E. and 12th Avenue, before being pared down to the four streets constructed today.

Raised as a concern, parking in cycle track areas has been maintained wherever possible, the City said. In places parking could not be kept, 501 new stalls were created within two blocks of constructed tracks to offset the loss.

Appreciation for the decision was echoed by bike enthusiasts throughout the city including a “Calgarians for Cycle Tracks” Facebook page and several business owners posting “We Support the Cycle Track Network” signs in their windows. Popular downtown barbecue joint The Palomino Smokehouse even held a celebration for the pilot.

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