Calgary’s new bicycle report boasts a spike in the number of bike trips into downtown since its cycle track opened.
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Tom Thivener, the city's cycling co-ordinator, says before the track opened, about 250 people per day used that route to get into the core.
“Since putting in cycle track — which is a barrier separated bike lane — ridership has gone up to over 1,100 cyclists a day. So it’s about a 430 per cent increase on this one facility alone.”
He says that stat — and another form the report showing the overall number of bike trips went up 26 per cent between 2007 and 2013 — helps support plans to expand the number of cycle tracks around the city.
“We are at that stage where we have a robust planning stage under way, we expect to come back to the committee, before council in April,” said Thivener.
“Hopefully we'll get a direction that we can continue to do a network of these to make cycling a legitimate mode of transportation into downtown Calgary.”
Thivener says there are plans to install a network of tracks so cyclists can get around Calgary easier.
Take space from sidewalk, says councillor
Some members of council, however, say they want to take a better look at some of the decisions being made under the strategy.
The cycle track project will go before council in April. They’ll discuss plans for a track on First Street S.E., between the downtown and the Talisman Centre.
Some, like Coun. Sean Chu, say that rather than putting a physically-separated cycle lane onto that busy road, there are other solutions.
“Why do you have to take a lane away from Macleod Trail?” asked Chu.
“[At] any given time, you have police pulling people over or construction, the traffic is just crazy. Why do you have to compete with a vehicle? Why can't you take three feet, four feet, five feet off the sidewalk and be on the sidewalk?”
Some other councillors, like Brian Pincott and Druh Farrell, argue roads are for all commuters, not just drivers. They say spending a small amount of city infrastructure budget on making cycling safe improves the commute for everyone.
More info needed, and fast, says Nenshi
Mayor Naheed Nenshi said the plan for the First Street track is late, adding that it is a “bit of a dropped ball.”
“It's extremely difficult for me as a policymaker to approve any further construction until I know what it connects to,” said Nenshi.
“I really want council to have the opportunity to discuss the plan in detail before shovels hit the ground, and if that means that we miss a construction season in 2014, well them's the consequences.”
The public can continue to comment on the draft network of the cycle tracks until the end of this week on the city's website.