Cycling strategy OK'd, funding still uncertain
City council green-lighted a new multi-million dollar strategy on Tuesday aimed at getting more Calgarians to ride bicycles.
The three-year plan would see the city invest in new cycling infrastructure, including more dedicated bike routes in the downtown core and elsewhere, better routes leading to LRT stations, more facilities for locking bicycles and wider pathways.
But council decided to put off deliberations on how to fund the strategy until the budget process in the fall.
About $10 million of the proposed plan's $28 million capital costs have already been budgeted for, according to the document released in June.
One of the strategy's goals is to double the number of Calgarians who commute into the core by 2020. The number of riders who commute into the downtown core has remained roughly consistent for the past decade, at about 9,200 per weekday.
"It's a good option for people fitness-wise, and also saving money. And it's a good way to start your day," said Joe Nunn of Joe's Garage, a "mobile bicycle shop" that operates from May to September on the Bow River pathway in central Calgary.
But many Calgarians remain skeptical that they can safety ride bicycles on city roadways. In a telephone survey conducted last fall almost 60 per cent cited safety concerns as the main reason they stay off bikes.
"The cyclists and the motorists don't mix well. I think you've got to keep them apart from each other," said Joe Foose, who does commute on a bicycle.
"There's dog walkers, there's cyclists, there's people moving baby carriages, and they try and put a speed limit on of 10 km/h or whatever the number is, for people that try and get to work. And I think they really gotta try and make an effort to have allocated bike paths."
Gary Beaton, president of the Calgary Tour de Nuit Society, said he wants to see dedicated bike lanes on one-way streets downtown. The city is underestimating the sales job that will be required once its cycling plan goes ahead, he added.
"It's actually going to be a huge job, and that's what the cycling strategy doesn't really address, the massive amount of work that it's going to be to market sustainable transportation," he said.
"We've had a very helter-skelter approach to creating bike lanes in Calgary so far."