|A cyclist heading south on 10 St NW new bikelane. Photo Credit - Calgary Herald|
The City of Calgary sprung a surprise on everyone this week with the installation of a pilot project bike lane on 10 St NW, running from 5 Ave NW all the way up to Confederation Park and beyond.
With this new project, they have instantly created one of the best bike routes in the city because it actually connects to something - the downtown core to the central NW via the Kensington/Sunnyside neighbourhoods and passing right beside SAIT/ACAD. People who live in this area now have a safe, connected route where none existed before. Thank you City of Calgary!
On the flipside, the City has also created an awful lot of animosity and negative press by the way this project happened - essentially out of thin air, with no warning, and no consultations with communities along its route. As I understand it, 10 St NW was slated to be repaved this fall and this route has been "on the books" for close to a decade. If the new bike lanes were painted now it would save a lot of money because the roadway would not need to be repaved next spring.
But some notice would have been a good idea to help educate motorists and journalists on the full scope of the project. Instead, local reporting seemed to focus on the "traffic snarls" and chaos with no mention of the full scope of the project and the reasoning behind it. The city should have sent out information to the media on how this was being implemented so the story would be less about bikes vs. cars and more about the creation of a neccessay cycle link and implementation of the Comprehensive Cycling Strategy which was passed in the spring. Let's remember that 59% of Calgarians also said they would cycle more if they felt safer.
The reality is that traffic has not actually been horribly affected - but based on the news stories in local papers you'd think that people were having to get out of their cars and push them down 10 St NW. Even The Mayor is not impressed.
Funny thing though, there have been exactly ZERO traffic reports on the snarls and chaos on 10 St NW since the lanes went in - no radio mentions, no mentions on Twitter using the #yyctraffic hashtag - nothing but crickets...
So, here is my advice to the City - please, please, please get a communication strategy sorted with regards to upcoming cycle infrastructure installations - press releases to media detailing the full scope and schedule of projects would be a good start.