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Dec 28, 2012

Top Bike Related Stories for Calgary in 2012

'Tis the season of lists - lists of the best/worst of everything under the sun are all aflutter this time of year.  What would list season be without a list of Calgary's Bicycle Related Stories, right?


Bike Share Debate - One of the more ambitious, expensive, and contentious action items in the Comprehensive Cycling Strategy was a BIXI-style bike share system for the downtown/Beltline area.  January saw this item land in the Transportation Committee and after debate was finished the idea was sent back to City Administration so they could plan how it would be implemented and paid for.  Hint - no City money will be spent on the system.  Hope exists that a private sponsor will be found to fund the system when it is finally ready for roll out in 2013 or 2014 at the earliest. The Calgary Sun weighs in here.


Downtown Bike Count Breaks 10,000 - Our city's bike advocacy organization - Bike Calgary - broke the news that for the first time ever bicycles travelling into the CBD (Central Business District) crested the 10,000 mark in 2011, proving to those of us that cycle regularly that indeed, more people were choosing to cycle and we weren't just hallucinating all those bikes we were seeing.


The Peace Bridge Opens - Much has been written about this beautiful river span and there is not enough pixels available here to cover it all, however, the bridge opened to people during this month and the celebration on the day was massive with thousands of Calgarians coming down to check out the bridge.  One of the cool features of the bridge is the bike lane running down the middle, separated from peoplw walking on the sides.  CTV News covers it here.

The Good Life Community Bike Shop Finds a Home - Every city needs a community bike shop and thankfully The Good Life found a home, at least over the summer, as it appears they are now on the hunt again for a more permanent space.


Calgary Hires First Bicycle Coordinator -  Arguably the most important item in the new Cycle Strategy was the hiring of a person to coordinate all the improvements called for in the strategy.  Finding that person was a challenge but eventually a fellow was found and imported to Calgary from Tuscon, Arizona.  Say hello to Tom Thivener - our new Bicycle Guru.

Another first for our fair city - the first ever Tweed Run It took us awhile to finally get one of these great rides up and running but better late than never, right?


Calgary's newest and already biggest bike festival - Cyclepalooza - returned for a second year of bike fun.  A whole new committee of volunteers brought the festival up to a new level of grand bikery and the events organized by Calgarians were better attended, more varied, and generally more awesome than 2011.  Let's hope 2013 sees the festival return with even more energy!

Here is a short edit of one of the events on the calendar - The Crowbomb!


Not much happened in July, except dressing up like cowboys and cowgirls and going for a bike ride!


MacLeod Trail to get bike lanes? Not quite. - One of the worst stretches of road in Calgary for people walking and people on bikes is the MacLeod Trail corridor.  Non-existent bike infrastructure is coupled with narrow sidewalks and parking lots separating the businesses along the roadway from the sidewalks makes this road perhaps the worst stretch in Calgary for people.  On top of that, crossing this roadway is a nightmare no matter where along its route you try to cross.

The plan being floated by the City does not indicate bike lanes on the roadway proper - it is actually more about creating space for people walking and people on bikes where the sidewalks currently are.  We'll see what city administration comes up with for this corridor but honestly anything would be better than was is currently (not) there. 


3-1-1 Online Updated with Bicycle Specific Reporting Options - 311 is a great tool here in Calgary for reporting all manner of city related concerns and this year the system was upgraded with more bicycle specific options to help keep bike riders rolling all season long.  Again, Bike Calgary did some amazing work with the City, where would we be without these hard working volunteers?


Calgary to Prioritize Bike Lane Snow Clearing -  While the title of this seems like a really big deal, and believe me the bike hater crowd sure thought so, it was perhaps the biggest non-story of the year.  Sure, it sounds great that the City will be telling snow plow operators to push the snow to the curb instead of into the middle of the lane but reality in the bike lane is a different story.  Not much has changed. 

Calgary's First Separated Bike Lanes Announced - This was probably the biggest bike news story of the year for Calgary.  2 lanes will be installed in Spring 2013, one going north through the downtown and one going south, eventually linking up to a wider network of separated lanes criss-crossing the downtown, where they are needed most.  Thankfully, the expected backlash to the story was muted, perhaps we'll need to wait until the lanes are installed to feel the full force of the bike haters.


Community asks for bike lanes, then doesn't want them. What a weird and wonderful world we live in.  The southwest community of Lakeview had some utility improvements installed and as part of the reconstruction efforts the local Alderman, Brian Pincott, worked with the community to have new bike lanes installed at no extra charge by the contractor.  However, soon after the lanes were installed people in the community started complaining about them, eventually asking for them to be removed.  Thankfully that didn't happen but it does sound like they will be reduced in size at some point in the future.  While not on the scale of what happened in Toronto (removal of the Jarvis Street bike lanes) this situation showed how important it is to work hard to get everyone on board with new projects.

On a fantastically positive note, Alberta Transportation responded to concerns from Bike Calgary that the current new driver handbook needed to be updated with more accurate information on the rights and responsibilities of cyclists on the road.  Recommendations were made to the Provincial Transportation Minister and all were accepted.  Score one for the good guys!


West LRT Opens - On the face of it, how does the new C-Train line qualify as a bike news story?  Well, because of this!  In my opinion, this is one of the biggest bike news stories of the year for a couple of reasons - 1) it shows that the City is very serious about improving bike infrastructure and bike/transit integration and 2) the City installed our first ever "bicycle superhighway" in Calgary right beside the line.  I blogged about it here - lets hope that the City continues this precedent when new train lines and bus rapid transit roads are built in the future.

In fact, talk is already happening about trying to retrofit another bicycle superhighway along the existing south line.  It will be interesting to see if this happens in 2013.

Will 2013 have as many positive bike stories?  Let's hope so!

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