Build entire downtown cycle track on 1-year trial basis, council told

A cycle track network for downtown Calgary should be set up temporarily all at once so it can be tried out for a year, city administrators are recommending to council.

City administration wants to construct $11.5M network as pilot project to gauge use by cyclists

The city should build the entire proposed downtown cycle track all at once, but on a temporary basis, so that its utility can be properly assessed, city administrators told council. (CBC)

A cycle track network for downtown Calgary should be set up temporarily all at once so it can be tried out for a year, according to a recommendation by city administrators to council.

The $11.5-million project will provide more insight into how well used a network of separated bike lanes would be in the core, said city traffic engineer Blanca Bracic.

“We can watch how things are working, we can make small adjustments. We plan to use temporary barrier-separators that we can easily move around or interchange with other devices,” she said.

So far the city’s approach has been to build the network one lane at a time, permanently. A two-way north-south section on Seventh Street S.W. was the first to be constructed.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi says going ahead with the full network on a one-year pilot basis is more sensible.

“We have been endlessly fighting about how many people will use it … and we won't know until we build them,” he said.

The recommended network includes east-west lanes on Eighth Avenue S.W. and 12th Avenue S.W. and north-south sections on Fifth Street S.W. and First Street S.E.

Bracic said the project will result in fewer lanes and parking spots for vehicles.

'We have to be honest'

“The cycle track network will have an impact, we have to be honest about that. However, our analysis has been quite detailed and thorough. We've hired a third party traffic consulting company to help us with this analysis,” Bracic said.

Reaction in the cycling community has been mixed.

Bike Calgary spokesman Dale Calkins says he likes the idea of building the track all at once.

“The complete network is there, so we don't have situations like the one here on Seventh where it just ends — no appropriate connecting infrastructure,” he said.

But the Tour de Nuit Society put out a press release slamming the new proposal as a waste of money.

“Like the Seventh Street S.W. cycle track, which goes nowhere, most of the proposed cycle tracks achieve little and do not maximize the safety gains for bicycle commuters,” the society said in a written statement.

“The network plan takes a complete miss on the vitally important east-west route and does not significantly improve access.”

The proposal goes to the committee level next week and council is expected to make a final decision by the end of the month. 

The network would open in the summer of 2015 for one year. 

Check out the map below of the proposed cycle track. On mobile? Click here.