Is Calgary bicycle-friendly? Cycle Track Review

City-of-Calgary-cycle-review

Copenhagenize Index 2015 has ranked 20 of the worlds most bicycle-friendly cities. Copenhagen overtook Amsterdam for first place and these two cities still dominate. Buenos Aires stomps the competition and nails the South American continent. Montreal clings on to 20th spot and now has North American competition in the form of Minneapolis, which makes its debut on the index. In Copenhagen more than 36% residents use bicycles for going to school and the office. Every day 789,000 miles of bicycle trips are made and saves 90,000 tons of carbon dioxide.

The population of Calgary is ever increasing, to give the transportation choices to the people, the City of Calgary Council passed its cycling strategy in July 5, 2011. The City has a vision to become one of the premier cycling cities in North America and is looking to make changes that will encourage more people to cycle in Calgary. The City has allocated 1.1% of its transportation budget exclusively to the cycling strategy.

Pilot project

Based on a 2010 survey, Calgarians can be grouped into four categories of cyclists: fearless, confident, interested and reluctant. Confident and interested cyclists made up 70% of survey respondents. They are not comfortable sharing the road with vehicular traffic and want dedicated bicycle lanes. Based on this survey city council passed its cycling strategy. The cycling strategy has three pillars: pillar one: plan, design and build; pillar two: operate and maintain; and, pillar three: educate and promote.

Under pillar one the city has planned to implement four major routes in the City Centre. Route: one: 5th Street on the east side from 3rd Avenue to 17th Avenue SW; Route 2: 12th Avenue on the north side from 11th Street SW to 4th Street S.E.; Route 3: 8th and 9th Avenues (on the north and south sides from 11th Street to 3rd Street S.W. and MacLeod Trail to 4th Street SE; Route 4: Stephen Avenue (3rd Street SW to 1st Street SE). The aim of pillar one is to provide dedicated space on streets to help Calgarians feel safer and more bicycle parking to make it more convenient to lock up a bicycle.

The new cycling strategy will help people to get to work and school faster than before. In addition to the cycling routes, the City has also planned secured parking for cyclists. The City of Calgary land use bylaws clause 559 has provisioned cycle parking in multi-residential apartments. Mainstreet Equity Corp. has seven buildings within the proposed pilot cycling routes in the SW, namely Avenue Tower on 17th Avenue, Avenue Houses at 18th Avenue, Wilmax at 13th Avenue, Westwinds on 14th Avenue, Merante on 14th Avenue, Vintage Squared on 15th Avenue and Mainstreet Place on 8th Avenue. We already had bicycle parking in all of these buildings, the cycling strategy has encouraged us to install even more bicycle parking.

A goal of Mainstreet’s is to become Canada’s leading provider of affordable mid-sized, mid-market apartment accommodations – typically properties with fewer than 100 units. In pursuit of this goal, the Corporation adheres to its six step “Value Chain” business model. Value enhancement is one of the links of the Value Chain. We have already received development permits for upgrading three buildings situated on cycling routes. All three buildings are approved for renovations and have provisions for cycle parking equivalent to class 1. In Mainstreet Place, we are going to install 16 more class 1 equivalent bicycle parking spots in the underground parkade. The new bicycle parking consists of a rack for each bicycle and an enclosed chain link locker equipped with secured lock to protect from vandalism and theft.

Calgary’s pilot cycle track consists of 5.5 kms of new track at a cost of $7.1 million which is almost half of 1% of the transportation budget for 2012-2014. Although the project was kicked-off based on the 2010 survey, people have mixed views after the project implementation. But the numbers don’t lie, the tracks are being used. The City of Calgary has provided a Google map that counts the daily average cycle trips and total numbers. Stephen Avenue has the highest daily average of 14,327 followed by Peace Bridge 4,428 and 8th Avenue 1,313. The pilot project is implemented within downtown using 5.5 kms of city roadways out of a total of 330 kms to encourage people to switch their mode of transport from motorized vehicles to cycling. The City is dedicated to keeping the track free of snow during winter, and expects commuters will use track even in the winter months. The cycle track has received mixed reviews among the local business communities. Small businesses appear more positive than big business enterprises, as door front parking has been used for the cycle tracks. Cyclists approve of the tracks, the general public are one of three categories: against, for or neutral. This trial stage is just the beginning, and effectiveness of the tracks will need time to evaluate. The city has baseline information and will continuously monitor and evaluate the performance of track based on 80 performance indicators. The City’s 311 phone line is open 24/7 for feedback, so do not hesitate to provide your feedback.

Mainstreet Equity Corp. is a publicly traded (TSX: MEQ) residential real estate company in Canada. Mainstreet currently owns and operates properties in Surrey, BC; New Westminster, BC; Abbotsford, BC; Calgary, AB; Cochrane, AB; Lethbridge, AB; Edmonton, AB; Fort Saskatchewan, AB; and Saskatoon, SK.

Mainstreet provides affordable, renovated apartment suites to Canadians, and is committed to creating real value without diluting shareholder interests.

About the Author
Sanokaji Karkee

As a Capital Expenditures Manager my responsibilities are to bring order to chaos. Derive deliverables, deadlines, milestones for each capital project, communicate with stakeholders and team members.

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