Deerfoot Trail study shows Calgarians avoid freeway due to safety concerns
Calgary’s busy skeletal road under scrutiny as part of an improvement study with the province
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If someone told you Calgarians aren’t impressed with Deerfoot Trail, would you be surprised?
Between congestion and reliability a number of Calgarians don’t love the skeletal road up to 170,000 vehicles use daily. But aside from road improvements, a high number of citizens choose to avoid the freeway for fears of safety.
Recent public consultation as part of the Deerfoot Trail study surveyed more than 8,000 Calgarians during online consultations and public houses to check public perception of Deerfoot.
Although a number of respondents found issues with how smoothly the freeway flows, there were a number of concerns on the road’s safety.
More than 30 per cent of respondents said they choose not to use Deerfoot because they believe it’s not safe. City spokeswoman Pooja Thakore said there are a number of reasons behind these concerns.
“That’s obviously a big concern,” said Thakore. “Part of the recommendations will be not only to address issues of congestion, but also safety.”
She noted this indicates the city doesn’t just have to look at adjustments like High Occupancy Toll Lanes, and other traffic improvement measures, but also turn their eyes to driver behaviour and design.
“We heard a lot about people driving too fast, following too close – a variety of things in terms of speed,” said Thakore. “Even having to merge across three lanes might make people feel unsafe.”
Coun. Shane Keating said he’s surprised to hear people are concerned with the freeway’s safety.
“They may not feel safe just because of the speed and congestion,” said Keating. “I don’t see it being an unsafe road.”
Keating believes the trail needs to be larger, even going to four lanes in places, with a toll lane (HOT) at points to encourage carpooling and charge those for the privilege of using the extra lane.
“We have to do this smarter,” said Keating. “Some off and on ramps have to be redone and some of them have to be done grade-separated so they’re not conflicting with people trying to get off and on in the same half-kilometre.”
In the past news outlets have crowned Deerfoot as a dangerous thoroughfare, and the City of Calgary's data notes a number of high crash intersections falling along the trail.