Calgary’s Bike Lane Network Plan Needs More Thought

Posted by Alan Zunec on Friday, June 17th, 2011 at 3:43pm.

Calgary’s city council is working on making the city more bicycle friendly. At present they are looking at a plan with a price tag of $28 million. It includes a network of cycling paths in the Beltline and in the downtown core. This network will cover almost every street and nearly half the city’s avenues. To some it seems a bit like overkill considering that the number of people that commute into the downtown core averages about 9,000 per day.

Also at issue is the fact that those downtown bike lanes are destined for low-traffic streets. Which asks the question, if there is little traffic, why have bike lanes? Doesn’t the law already require cars and cyclists to share the road equally? The streets in question already have extra signs and road markings that advise both parties to look out for each other.

The other issue is parking, which is already a thorny issue. Putting a bike lane in at the expense of parking spaces might not be the greatest idea, especially downtown. And exactly how many people live in the downtown core? Are there enough to warrant the expense and maintenance of bike lanes?

Last of all, Calgary is really spread out, with some residents on the outer edges living some 25 kilometres from downtown. Are these residents going to willingly want to commute this far, especially in the winter? Commute times would double. It would be more practical, and faster, to take public transit if seeking an alternative to driving. Perhaps the network of bike lanes needs a bit of a rethink.

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