Breweries, cyclists push to make Barley Belt more bike friendly

Bike riders and brewery owners are banding together to advocate for better bike infrastructure in the Calgary's Barley Belt — more commonly known as the Manchester Industrial area.

Bikes becoming popular way to tour 7 breweries in Calgary's Manchester Industrial area

The seven breweries in Calgary's Barley Belt (in the Manchester Industrial Park) are banding together, along with cycling advocates, to encourage the city to add more bike infrastructure to the area. (CBC, CBC)

Bike riders and brewery owners are banding together to advocate for better bike infrastructure in Calgary's Barley Belt — more commonly known as the Manchester Industrial Park.

Over the past few years, seven breweries have opened in the area, and four more alcohol-producing ventures are under construction and slated to open by the end of the year.

The Barley Belt — an area that starts at one end at Village Brewery and ends at the Banded Peak Brewing Co. —  is becoming a popular weekend haunt for craft beer lovers in the city. 

"A lot of folks show up on bikes on weekends, trying to do a tour of the different breweries in the area," said Banded Peak owner Colin McLean.

McLean said they would like to see a mixed-use pathway running down 42nd Avenue S.E. to separate cyclists and pedestrian from vehicles. 

"Manchester is closed off as far as bike services go. I know it's an industrial area, but there are mixed-use pathways that exist in other industrial areas," McLean said.

To help their project gain momentum, the Barley Belt breweries have petitions in their tap rooms for patrons to sign, and beer lovers are encouraged to take part in a letter writing campaign to Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra. 

Cycling advocate Kevin Schlauch is responsible for the campaign. He said he's hoping his note to the area councillor will make the city aware of how it can help Barley Belt patrons enjoy the area responsibly and safely.

"I ride through it every day. There are things I've seen or thought of in that area that other people haven't had a chance to yet," Schlauch said.

"I wanted to put all of my thoughts and ideas and findings in one letter that makes it easy for him to make a slam-dunk case for safer streets."

Carra said he welcomes the letters as it helps him make an argument for funding in the Manchester area.

"It's a great economic development play for the city and it's a great tourism play for the city and it's a very necessary and fairly easy thing to do," Carra said. 

"On the books we've had a couple of multi-use paths that we'll sort of plug into the Barley Belt and then it's just a question of figuring out how we can create these quiet but necessarily wide industrial streets."

With files from Helen Pike