Calgary’s extensive pathway network lets cyclists roam far and wide

Cycle City: A three-part series exploring biking in and around Calgary

What stretches 770 kilometres across Calgary, reaching virtually every area of the city, yet doesn’t contain a single car?

Even if you are already aware of Calgary’s extensive pathway system, the scope of the city’s multi-use pathways is the envy of other cities.

Allowing cyclists – along with any other pathway user – to travel across the city on a network dedicated to non-vehicular transport, the impact of Calgary’s extensive pathway system is being felt across the city.

No longer just a way to occupy spare time, easy access to Calgary’s pathway system is beginning to appear on a list of must have’s for some Calgary homebuyers.

“I’m in Kensington, so right along Memorial Drive, and it’s pretty sweet,” said avid cyclist Curtis Mah, who prefers to commute to work via bicycle when his job allows.

“If you want to [ride recreationally], Kensington is awesome. I can cross the bridge and only go through one crosswalk – so no dealing with traffic – and I can be on the pathway and get to East Village and all the way up to Bowness. It’s [a big plus] for buying or renting.”

The City of Calgary’s latest bicycle count showed bicycle trips in and out of downtown Calgary increased by nearly 40 per cent between 2006 and 2014, with more 12,566 Calgarians going either to or from work on a daily basis.

According to the City’s last Cycling Yearbook, released in 2013, the majority of the communities seeing three per cent or more of residents commuting to work via bicycle were located adjacent to a pathway.


“Right now, I think the multi-use recreational trails are a big draw. Just because [people] know them and are used to them. Every city has them, whereas the on-street separated bike lanes are a little bit scary,” said Mah.

Along with the push to create a bicycle-friendly city through the creation of a dedicated cycle-track network in the downtown core, the area outside of downtown is also seeing developments that will benefit cyclists.

The $65-million Rotary/Mattamy Greenway, for example, will stretch 138 kilometres, creating a loop around the entire city through 55 communities. It’s the largest project in Parks Foundation Calgary’s 30-year history, with an expected completion date of 2016. While the majority of bicycle commuters reside within Calgary’s city limits, those eager to journey outside the city for work or for pleasure may soon have another option.

The Bears Paw Trail – a 2.2-kilometre leg of the Calgary to Cochrane Trail joining Haskayne Park in northwest Calgary to Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park – is expected to begin construction this summer, pending $100,000 in funding that needs to be raised by July 1.

With the final two phases expected to be complete by 2020, the $7.5-million project will stretch 14-kilometres and represent a portion of the TransCanada Trail. When completed, the trail will stretch nearly 24,000 kilometres from the Atlantic to the Pacific to the Arctic oceans, linking Canadians in close to 1,000 communities in one of the world’s longest network of trails.