Cycle Track Network attracting women, families as 770K trips logged in 1st year

Calgary's Cycle Track Network seems to be catching on among women and families as the experiment logs 770,000 trips since it opened a year ago, the project co-ordinator says.

'As we build out our network ... it will get safer and you'll see even more women out riding'

Project co-ordinator Tom Thivener says there were more than 770,000 trips on the city's cycle track during its first year. (Evelyne Asselin/CBC )

Calgary's Cycle Track Network seems to be catching on among women and families as the experiment reaches 770,000 logged trips since it opened a year ago, the project co-ordinator says.

"I can definitely say we're exceeding our expectations a bit," Tom Thivener, the city's cycling co-ordinator told the Homestretch.

"There's definitely some sections that are under what we'd like it to be but it's really explained pretty easily when you look at how the cycle tracks just kind of end, and that's the knock we hear from the people who use them, that they just don't go quite far enough."

The Fifth Street S.W. underpass has been the busiest spot.

"We've actually put an electronic display there on the sidewalk so you can see how many people have gone by that day and that year," said Thivener.

"Each day that spot is hitting about 2,300 or 2,400 cyclists."

No hard numbers are available, but Thivener said periodic visual surveys found an increase in female riders.

"We have seen the number of women increase quite substantially from just about 1-in-5 cyclists to 1-in-4," he said.

"It's not quite parity like they have in Copenhagen and Amsterdam, but as we build out our network and connect to things it will get safer and you'll see even more women out riding."

More young riders

Families and children are also a growing user group.

"It's something we see on a routine basis," said Thivener.

"As people get off work and they start to go for a ride or on the weekends, we see a lot of families out riding. It's not something we've tabulated very well but it is a common occurrence to see kids riding in the Cycle Track which is really great to see because that's what the project is about, mobility and getting around downtown."

The project hasn't been without its challenges or naysayers, with the loss of parking to build it and added gridlock being the biggest complaints.

"I think change is hard to swallow for many," said Thivener.

"But this is definitely a city where you have to build something and prove it to them to show them if it's something new like the Cycle Tracks were.

"I'm sure it was difficult back in the day when the first C-Train line came into town when it was proposed, but now we couldn't live without it."

The pilot project will run for another six months then city council will vote whether to keep or remove it.


With files from the Homestretch