Vote on Downtown Cycle Track Network Pilot Project

Vote on Downtown Cycle Track Network Pilot Project

On Monday, April 28th, City Council approved a portion of the “Cycle Track Network” pilot project.

Here is a record of how I voted on that day:

Resolution

Voted

 

Direct Administration to open the Complete Centre City Cycle Track Pilot Project Network Map

Against

Alternative 1

Direct Administration to open the Centre City Cycle Track Pilot in 2015 based on the Cycle Track Pilot Project Network Map with the exception of 1st Street SE from the Bow River to 9th Ave SE

Against

Alternative 2

Direct Administration to open the Centre City Cycle Track Pilot Project in 2015 based on the Centre City Cycle Track Pilot Network Map with the exception of 1st Street SE from 9th Avenue to the Elbow River Pathway

Against

Alternative 3

Direct Administration to open the Centre City Cycle Track Pilot in 2015 based on the Centre city Cycle Track Pilot Project Map with the exception of 1st Street SE

For

I voted for an amended proposal that included a pilot of three cycle tracks in the City Centre:

  • 5th Street SW (north-south route)
  • 8th Avenue S (Stephen Avenue)
  • 12th Avenue S (east-west route)

I was reluctant to support any proposal that would remove a traffic lane on 1st Street SE, one of downtown’s busiest roads. However, the demand for different modes of transportation in Calgary, as in many other Cities in Canada, is experiencing continued and accelerated growth. As many of you already know, this has led to longer travel times, greater driver frustration, and more congestion. One approach to lessen these effects is to decrease the number of vehicle trips going into the core. This can be achieved by influencing a mode shift from automobiles to more efficient alternatives such as public transit, carpooling, biking, and walking.

Simply put, transportation options are important, and I believe that we should work together with key stakeholders and industries to develop transportation systems, infrastructures and policies that are efficient, and encourage a range of transportation choices. For this reason, I felt it was important for the well-being of Calgary that Council go forward with some form of the cycle track pilot project.

Side note: Alternative 4 would have been approved with more support from Council which would have directed Administration to open the pilot project with the exception of 1st Street SE and Stephen Avenue. Stephen Avenue was identified as a trouble sport. To mitigate this, cyclists will not have access to Stephen Avenue during peak pedestrian traffic times between 11:00am and 2:00pm. I also supported it because it provides cyclists with a route north of the CPR railway.

Council instructed administration to reduce the cost of implementing a pilot of three cycle tracks (Alternative 3).  Administration pledged to reduce the cost to approximately $5 million, less than half of the $11 million, originally quoted. Council also passed a policy to allow small scale private contractors to bid on maintenance and snow clearing to reduce of the operational costs of the cycle track.  The Transportation Department will need to look at how to best connect 8th Avenue and 9th Avenue now that 1st Street SE is not included in the network. I will recommend that City Officials remove the 9th Avenue portion from the pilot project in an attempt to further reduce the overall cost.

Over the past months, my office received significant feedback in regards to the implementation of the cycle track proposal. Most of the concerns we received were mitigated by not including 1st Street SE. Concerns raised included, but was not limited to:

  • The effect of removing a traffic lane on 1st Street SE on Chinatown.  The Calgary Chinese Elderly Citizens’ Association, along with several other community groups banded together to express their dissatisfaction with the proposal to put a cycle track on 1st Street SE.
  • Potential traffic impacts of removing a lane from motorists on an unduly busy arterial road. The design of the underpass between 9th Avenue and 10 Avenue that would result in cyclists leaving the road and heading into mixed pedestrian traffic. How do bikes safely exit and re-enter the road after?
  • Concerns over what this pilot project means for parking in the core. Calgary Parking Authority is planning to put in more street parking to the tune of 350 new spaces in an effort to offset the 260 stalls lost. Three new parkades will also be added within five years, creating another 2,100 parking spots.

Please note that Stephen Avenue is still closed to bikes until the cycle track pilot open in summer 2015. You can be fined up to $300 if you ride your bike on Stephen Avenue before then.

A comment was made on twitter that suggested I prioritized the cycle track pilot project at the expense of improving transit in Southeast Calgary. The chart below shows the amount of money Council has allocated since I was elected to accelerate the development of the Southeast Transitway/LRT compared to the $5 million committed to improve cycle infrastructure in the core. Side note: the money for the cycle track was approved by a previous Council and was allocated from federal fuel-tax. I firmly believe that I have my priorities in order, but I do find it interesting that Calgarians that live in  the suburbs have greater access to bike and pedestrian paths than those living in high density areas like the downtown core.

Funding