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Dec 5, 2012

Calgary's First Bicycle Super Highway?

The much anticipated west leg of Calgary's light rail transit system is due to open on December 10th and along with it, many improvements to Calgary's bicycle network.  There is a comprehensive list of the improvements here but one of the most exciting components is a new multi-use pathway (MUP) that runs parallel to the line from Westbrook to 69 St.

69 St station head with the new high school and parking garage in the background.
In the past, if you lived west of Sarcee Trail and tried to cycle from there east towards the inner city you would run into the very bicycle (and people) unfriendly corridor that is Sarcee Trail.  Getting across this road required that you either A) detour north to the Bow Trail area B) try to navigate the wretched intersection at 17th Avenue or C) detour south towards the pedestrian overpass near 26th Avenue SW.  All of these options were not the best and made cycling and walking between these areas difficult.

It's all downhill from here! And look at the view!
The new MUP is a very direct route, almost a bicycle superhighway (ok, I know its only a couple miles, not 11) and provides great access to all the businesses along the 17th Avenue corridor including Westbrook Mall and West Market Square.  Running along the north side of 17th Avenue for its entire length it connects the communities on either side of Sarcee Trail to each other and makes it possible to quickly and safely walk or cycle between these areas.  For bicycle commuters, there is now a very direct route to downtown (if used in conjunction with other West LRT bike improvements).

Westbrook station head in all its post-construction glory.
I bicycled the route this morning from the 69 St station down to the Westbrook station, a Strava map of the route can be found here.  And just for the fun of it, here is a video of the new line from the City of Calgary. The official opening isn't until December 10th however on December 8th there is a celebration going on during the day at all the new stations - details of the celebration events can be found here.

Perhaps the City can look at adding these same sorts of bicycle superhighways when designing the South East and North Central lines in the future?

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