Calgary cycle track: A tale of its impact on 2 businesses

Two Calgary businesses that have been affected by the downtown bike throughway weigh in on whether city council should keep it, alter it or get rid of it.

Bike throughway brings in river pathway traffic, but takes away downtown parking spots

While some business owners say the cycle track has been beneficial, others say it's cutting in to their bottom lines. (CBC)

Should we keep or kill Calgary's downtown cycle track network? Or just make a couple of adjustments to the route?

Those are the questions being debated (again) at city hall on Monday.

Council is expected to vote on the fate of the pilot project sometime this afternoon.

The Calgary Eyeopener spoke to two businesses about their experiences with the bike throughway: George Condon, owner of Gios Collections for Men on Eighth Avenue S.W. and Dagny Eneyew, the manager Alforno Bakery Cafe near Eau Claire.

Dagny Eneyew (left) is the manager Alforno Bakery Cafe and George Condon is the owner of Gios Collections for Men. (Danielle Nerman/CBC)

The following is an edited version of their conversation with CBC Radio host, David Gray:

Q: How has the cycle track affected your business?

DE: Extremely positively. We're so close to the Bow River pathway that it makes us accessible. You get people who are on the cycle track riding around and don't know where they are going who end up here as well. We are also close to the Peace Bridge, so even for people coming from the suburbs — they may park as far as Kensington and walk over. Just overall, the network works for us.

GC: Well, there are a lot of disgruntled people that do drive. They're looking for street parking and I'm trying to reverse that to try to promote a parkade which is directly behind me. But the thing is, people's habits are to look for street parking and there's next to none available.

DE: We are affected very differently by the cycle track. We are further away from the downtown core, so there is parking available. Two-hour parking where you pay, there's 30-minute parking for just people running in or out just getting a baguette and coffee.

GC: We're looking at anywhere from 15 to 20 per cent [drop in business] just with the pilot project in place for the last year and a half.

The owner of Gios Collections For Men on Eigth Avenue S.W. says the cycle track has taken away precious street parking space for his customers. (Gios Collections For Men/Facebook)

Q: We've had two years of bad business in Calgary. How do you know what's the cycle track and what's the downturn?

GC: The downturn, for me, that started more or less when the price of oil started to drop, which was the end of June 2014. When the cycle track was in play by June of 2015, there was another drop-off. So there was a second hit, besides the economy. It was a double whammy.

Q: What's the solution?

GC: Put a cycle track on the north side of Ninth Avenue and you'll have your bike lanes side by side like you have on Fifth Street and 12th Avenue. And it will be a lot easier for the cyclists, I think, than what we have now on Eight Avenue with one lane on the north side, one lane on the south side because it's a two-way avenue.

DE: They've already spent a lot of money putting the cycle track in, it's already there. So they would be spending a lot more money to take it out. There is no denying there could be a lot more thought put into layouts. There are certain areas where it's questionable why there is a cycle track there.

In other areas though, it's absolutely genius. Like Fifth Street? Perfect.  

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener


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