News / Calgary

4 things to know about Calgary's cycle-track network, opening early and under budget

As of Thursday morning, cyclists will be able to ride all the way from Shaw Millennium Park to East Village and from Eau Claire to 17th Avenue in their own, dedicated lanes, separate from motor-vehicle traffic.

The final leg of Calgary’s Centre City Cycle Track Network – which runs along 8 Avenue SW, Stephen Avenue, and 9 Avenue SE – was set to open officially in the wee hours of the morning, bringing the entire project in ahead of schedule and well under budget.

The city had pledged to open the network by the end of June, at a maximum cost of $7.1 million.

Now, the total price tag is estimated at $5.75 million, including construction, monitoring, the “bicycle ambassadors” helping people learn the new traffic rules, as well as anticipated maintenance and snow-clearing costs.

“It includes everything we can foresee all the way through to December 2016 when this will be ultimately evaluated,” transportation planning director Don Mulligan said of the pilot project.

Volumes of data from automated counters, human observations, and cameras will be gathered over the next 18 months, in addition to feedback from citizens and business owners in the downtown and Beltline areas.

City council will then have to decide whether to keep, modify, expand, or remove the separated downtown bike lanes.

Four things to know about the new network:

Already busy: The 5 Street SW leg, which just opened on Friday, saw about 1,500 daily trips on Monday and Tuesday, according to data recorded at the CP Rail underpass. The city’s target for this spot is 1,200 daily trips.

Confusion leads to detour: A “tricky transition” from a two-way cycle track on 5 Street north of 15 Avenue to a pair of one-way cycle tracks south of the intersection led to much initial confusion. The city has since put a detour in place while it redesigns the former diagonal transition to a “two-stage crossing.”

Traffic slowdown: It’s taken motor vehicles, on average, 90 seconds longer in the morning rush hour and 60 seconds longer in the afternoon rush hour to travel along 12 Avenue from 11 Street SW to 4 Street SE since the cycle track opened.

Shared Space: Cyclists and pedestrians will have to learn to get along on Stephen Avenue during the day. The city has deemed this route as a “shared space” and expects cyclists to stick to the centre of the roadway, slow down, and dismount, if necessary, during peak pedestrian times. No physical separation exists.

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