No, Committee did not approve the position of Cycling Coordinator

I wasn’t going to wade into this, but there have been some claims made by some special interest groups and individuals based on comments from my fellow Councillors this week that are simply not true. I’m not entirely sure if they are intentionally getting this wrong, but we have an obligation to give Calgarians the facts. While discussing engaging the Province on changes to the Traffic Safety Act on Wednesday, which included the proposed “Idaho Stop” for bicycles, there was a back and forth between Councillor Chu and administration.

During this, the position of “Cycling Coordinator” was brought up, which the City is currently hiring for. This is absolutely not what we were voting on. This is a position that had already existed, was already budgeted for, and was not being debated by Council – to be clear, we do not vote on specific positions within Administration. There were some claims made on social media by Councillors Chu and Magliocca, interest groups and members of the public that Councillors during the Transportation and Transit Committee voted to approve this position. That is a ridiculous claim and is fundamentally false.

Whether you, I, or anyone else personally agrees or disagrees with the City’s cycling strategy, it is in fact a strategy that has been adopted by Council (since 2011) and therefore it needs to be enacted by both Council and Administration.

So what was voted on? The Motion Arising had eight points on it. We broke them up to 6 votes:

  • 1. Direct Administration to work with the Province to examine changes to the Traffic Safety Act to allow for bicycles (including power bicycles) to treat stop signs as yield signs. (Idaho Stop)
    • Passed – Against: Myself, Cllr. Chu and Cllr. Magliocca
  • 2. Direct administration to work with the Province to permanently exempt power bicycles from the requirement of having a brake lamp and a side mirror, and the rider requirement to wear a motor cycle helmet for power assist bicycles with a total continuous motor output rating of 750w or less; (currently 500w or less).
  • Direct administration to work with the Province to remove electric scooters from the prohibited miniature vehicles list and allow them to operate as bicycles in terms of their rules, rights and responsibilities, which will allow Calgary to pilot the devices.
  • Direct administration to work with the Province to change the Traffic Safety Act to allow mobility aides (electric scooters/wheelchairs) in bike lanes.
    • Passed – Against: Cllr. Magliocca
  • 3. To encourage the Province to examine formally adopting the Alberta Bicycle Facilities Bike Design Guide, which will give our engineers certainty when designing modern bicycle infrastructure.
    • Passed – Against: Cllr. Chu and Cllr. Magliocca
  • 4. To encourage the Province to examine formally adopting the ‘Making Alberta Roads Safer for Cyclists’ recommended changes to the Traffic Safety Act, as prepared by the Alberta Cycling Coalition.
    • Passed – Against: Cllr. Chu and Cllr. Magliocca
  • 5. To encourage the Province to establish the role of Active Transportation Coordinator, to facilitate policy and design work at the provincial level and assist with regional and provincial planning and infrastructure.
    • Passed – Against: Cllr. Chu, Cllr. Farkas and Cllr. Magliocca
  • 6. Direct City administration to establish a Bicycle Advisory Committee (or Active Transportation Advisory Committee) to facilitate a regular conversation between staff and citizens and support the work of our various Boards, Commissions, and Committees.
    • Failed – For: Cllr. Chahal, Cllr. Carra, Cllr. Farrell

To clarify, this is essentially what was voted on and passed:

  1. Administration to work with the province to allow the “Idaho Stop.”
  2. Administration work with the province to essentially treat pedal-assist e-bikes as standard bikes, allow electric scooters to operate as bikes, and allow mobility aides in bike lanes (Cllr. Chu voted for this!).
  3. Administration work with the province to standardize bike facility design across the province.
  4. Work with the province to put a minimum passing distance in place for vehicles passing cyclists.
  5. Administration encourage the province to establish a role within the provincial government to facilitate active modes of transportation.

Somehow, out of these votes we get this claim, by Councillor Magliocca and shared by Councillor Chu, that seems to imply they voted against the Cycling Coordinator position:

What misguided proposal? Working with the provincial government? Because that’s what we voted on. Even the Idaho Stop, which I was against, was simply working with the province to amend the Traffic Safety Act.

Save Calgary then comes in, thanking them for voting against the position – a vote that never occurred:

This is a vote that didn’t even remotely come close to existing. Weaponized misinformation does not serve anyone.

In no part of those votes was the position of Cycling Coordinator within Administration debated, nor voted on. This is a disingenuous claim being put out there, intended to raise the ire of the general public with misinformation. If this is truly being done intentionally by individuals and groups, that is weaponized misinformation and is an absolute disservice to Calgarians. Several Councillors, including Councillors Chu and Magliocca, have made it abundantly clear that they are not in favour of the cycling strategy and that’s fine. There are at least three sides to every issue and they should all be heard. What is not fine is fighting against a policy you don’t like with flagrantly false information.

I would also like to make it clear that the Cycling Strategy is something that guides Administration and Council, as it is City policy adopted by Council.

Councillors need to lay out the facts to Calgarians, and whether false information has been presented here intentionally or not, it absolutely needs to be corrected to Calgarians.

As always, I welcome your thoughtful comments and concerns. You can share them with me here.