Cycle track network should be tried as whole, says Nenshi

Calgary's mayor says he wants to see a downtown cycle track network be tried in whole rather than piecemeal to see if it will work.

Individual lanes aren't enough of a gauge, Calgary mayor says as city set to unveil plans

Dedicated two-way bicycle lanes, called a cycle track, opened last summer in Calgary on Seventh Street S.W. between the Bow River pathway and Eighth Avenue. (CBC)

Calgary's mayor says he wants to see a downtown cycle track network tried in whole rather than piecemeal to judge whether it will work.

The city is set to unveil its revised plans for a downtown cycle track network on Tuesday morning.

Plans for a bike lane along First Street S.E. have been controversial, with opponents saying it's too much money for too few cyclists and will cause too much congestion.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi says he supports temporarily trying the entire network and then seeing if people use it, rather than accept the argument there are too few cyclists downtown.

“Of course the numbers are low because there's no cycle track network,” said Nenshi.

“If our goal is to encourage more people to cycle, then looking at what the numbers are today, that there's only three bikes on First Street southeast, well that actually is evidence to do it, not evidence to not do it.”

Nenshi says he supports a bigger, but temporary, experiment to see what the demand really is for bike lanes that are physically separated from other traffic.

“Manage it very, very closely, looking at the changes to people's driving time, to inconvenience, to accidents, to the number of cyclists, to a whole bunch of data. And if we figure out a way to pilot the entire cycle track at once with a temporary system of tracks — for say, a full year, so we can see summer and winter effects as well — I think that's the right thing to do.”

The cycle track plan will go to a council committee next week. Currently there's only one cycle track downtown, along Seventh Street S.W.