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Calgary Cycle Tracks

Sorting out cycle tracks

Calgary, Alberta

As Calgary’s population continues to grow, it’s essential to find more travel choices for those who regularly travel in and out of the downtown area. In 2011, the City of Calgary dedicated funds to develop a network of cycle tracks in the downtown area.

The first cycle track, built in 2013, was a 0.8 km route along 7th Street SE—connecting the northwest quadrant of downtown with the Bow River Pathway. Following the success of this first corridor, planning and design for the network began in earnest with Stantec added to the team.

In June 2015, 5.5 kilometres of cycle track and one km of shared street space was opened to Calgarians as an 18-month pilot, using temporary construction treatments. These new cycle tracks are designed to include separated bicycle lanes for cyclists, travel lanes to keep vehicle traffic flowing, signage to direct cyclists and motorists, modifications to traffic signals to keep traffic flowing (and improve safety for all road users), more bicycle parking, and maximum on-street parking where possible.

We worked closely with the City of Calgary on the network planning, public engagement, approval process, detailed design of all facilities, traffic analysis of approximately 40 impacted signals, construction, and construction administration efforts. We’re also involved in ongoing engagement with a variety of stakeholders including the public.

Stantec’s Ryan Martinson takes you on a ride through some of the benefits and challenges of cycle tracks, using Calgary, AB as an example.

Transcript of the video follows
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<p><b>Ryan Martinson</b></p> <p>We all need to move around our cities to take advantage of what they offer us in terms of living, working, playing, and learning. With our cities growing, our transportation systems need to grow as well. And that’s why cycle tracks are so great. Check it out!</p> <p><b>Rock Miller</b></p> <p>Cycle track is a relatively new form of bikeway that is being built in urban areas, particularly in downtowns. It’s basically a reassigning the way the street is used to dedicate some space for bicycles in addition to the space for cars, and one of the most important features of it is there’s some kind of a physical separation between the bicyclists and the cars.</p> <p>When you ride a bicycle in a facility like this it feels a lot more comfortable to people riding a bike, so people who are nervous about riding in a city will ride in a facility like this.</p> <p><b>Ryan Martinson</b></p> <p>As I travel through downtown Calgary, there’s a lot of people moving around by different modes. It’s busy, but everyone’s getting around safely. This is something we had to consider when we were planning and designing the cycle track network. So why aren’t more people doing this? Well like everything, there’s challenges.</p> <p><b>Rock Miller</b></p> <p>We’ve heard a number of people, particularly people that are used to commuting by cars express a lot of concern over taking away the lane of traffic. Another issue of concern that we’ve heard from a number of people is that it basically has resulted in some loss of parking along the street.</p> <p>One of the things the City did to address the parking shortage is survey nearby streets and they actually found places where they could provide some additional parking and they’ve actually come up with a net increase of about 100 stalls total for the overall project area.</p> <p>The bicycle traffic to the downtown has been increasing, the car traffic has actually been decreasing, and the City’s really established a lot of goals to increase bicycling and decrease single occupant car traffic in the downtown.</p> <p><b>Don Mulligan</b></p> <p>To be a great city, you’ve got to take some risks, you’ve got to go out on a limb, you’ve got to try new things, and lots and lots of people are resistant to change. You can give them some comfort by saying “it’s a pilot, we’re going to try it, it’s not permanent, if it doesn’t work we can either adjust it or abandon it…” And so there’s a huge power in creating a pilot project that is truly a test.</p> <p><b>Ryan Martinson</b></p> <p>So clearly there are a lot of challenges with implementing cycle tracks. Why bother?</p> <p><b>Don Mulligan</b></p> <p>When we ask people “why cycle?” the vast majority say “for exercise”, but it's not just about exercise, it's about a whole new lifestyle.&nbsp; I've been to many other cities all over the world and the cities that are best at cycling, people use it for everything. It becomes their way. We call it &quot;All day, all purpose trip&quot;. So, it's not just about going to school or going to work. It's going to visit friends, it's going to get groceries, it's going out at night.</p> <p><b>Ryan Martinson</b></p> <p>So they’re an all-around good idea, so how can other communities get started, and who can help?</p> <p><b>Rock Miller</b></p> <p>Stantec has helped cities implement cycle tracks in many communities throughout the US and Canada. We know it’s worked where it’s been done in cities before, and we have no doubt that it’s going to be working here. And the early returns really are confirming that already.</p> <p><b>Ryan Martinson</b></p> <p>So give us a shout if you want to learn more about cycle tracks in your town.</p>

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