Construction will begin this spring in downtown Calgary on the first cycle track — a two-way bike lane with a physical barrier from vehicles.

The first phase of the project is a two-way cycle track on Seventh Street S.W. between the Bow River Pathway and Eighth Avenue. It’s scheduled to open in July.

"The way Seventh Street operates now it's really a free-for-all if you're a bicyclist," said Tom Thivener, the city's bicycle co-ordinator. "Some brave it and ride with traffic, which is tough for a lot people to do. Others dismount and walk."

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A bicycle rider on a cycle track in Ottawa. (City of Calgary)

Based on similar designs offered in Vancouver, Ottawa and Winnipeg, the cycle track will have a concrete barrier between the vehicle and car lanes.

"When it gets into downtown you really need complete separation, not just a painted line because you still have the risk," he said.

Group questions placement

The new lanes will mean fewer street parking spaces and businesses should have been consulted, said Maggie Schofield, Calgary Downtown Association's executive director.

"We're not exactly convinced that this particular piece of infrastructure is the right piece of infrastructure in the right area. We don't believe it's the place where cyclists really need it the most," she said.

Officials have recorded more than 12,000 trips on bicycles in and out of the city centre, up 35 per cent from 2006.

A public information session was held downtown on Monday afternoon and another will be held on Tuesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Centennial Place in the west tower.