Feb 6, 2014

Calgary's Downtown Cycletrack Network


Calgary's First Cycletrack - 7 St SW (City of Calgary photo)

A few years back, July 2011 to be exact, Calgary city council made the decision to finally fund a cycle strategy plan.  It was a huge victory for the cycling advocates who've worked so hard, for so many years, to realize not only a comprehensive plan - but millions of dollars of funding to go along with it.

Proposed Cycletrack Network

One of the key action items in the strategy was to address the severe lack of safe cycling routes in the downtown core. Currently, if you look at a map of the bike paths and on street routes in the area, they all stop at the periphery of the core, making access to the biggest business district in the city very difficult for all cyclists except the "strong and fearless" types.  If you are like the majority of cyclists in Calgary, you probably don't feel very safe riding your bike into the downtown core.  If you're like many people I know, you simply won't cycle down there very often.  Hint: unrealized sales for businesses in the core and a loss of potential street life and community vitality.

Calgary's numbers very closely mirror these
The recently released plans for the network look pretty good, considering the limitations "on the ground" (c-train line, CP rail ROW, narrow underpasses, significant number of bus routes, etc) and from what I have seen the initial proposal looks like a great start towards making the downtown more bike friendly and give Calgarians more options for getting into and out of the core. 


Which brings us to the next step - getting the proposal through City Council in April when the item comes before them for a vote.  Getting the required 8 votes may not be as easy as some might think and will require everyone who wants to see this happen to get involved, even in a small way.

Presently, there are at least 5 councillors who have made it pretty clear through their previous statements that they are not in favour of this and will vote against it, based almost purely on ideology alone.  Damn the facts, even if they show that cycletracks are good for cities and help enhance local economies.  

There are 4 openly pro-cycling councillors who we can very confidently count on to vote in favour of the proposal.  

Which leaves the Mayor, and 5 other council members that are hard to figure out which way they'll vote. 

This is where you come in.  

If you want this proposal to go forward and become reality you need to get involved!  Now!

Here are the ways you can get involved and participate in leading Calgary into a bicycle friendly city:

- attend the Open Houses planned next week.

- write a letter of support for the proposal to your Councillor and the Mayor.  It does not have to be a long or complicated letter, just write something short, from your perspective, on why better and safer bicycling conditions in this city matter to you and your family.  That old rule applies - if a politician gets one letter from someone it means there are scores of people who share the same point of view.

- attend the February 19 meeting of the Transit and Transportation committee in support of the planned 1 St SE cycletrack, and if you have the courage, speak to the committee

- attend the April City Council meeting when the full cycletrack network will go before Council for a crucial vote.  There will be an opportunity for people to speak to council and the more people that appear to speak, the better chance we have of moving forward.

Now, I do not want to come off as alarmist but there is a real danger that this proposal will be voted down and if that happens the entire strategy could be at stake since the cycletrack network is a key piece of the cycle strategy.  

At present, we do not have enough Councillors guaranteed to vote for the proposal so it's imperative that the "fence sitters", including the Mayor, as well as the opposed hear from as many supporters as possible.

Together we can make it happen!  Now's your chance to make a positive impact on your city!


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