Calgary cycle track pilot gets final report card
Now up to council to give the downtown bike lanes a passing or failing grade
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It’s the cycle track’s final report card, and while advocates may look at the results as “passing with flying colours,” ultimately, the decision to continue on track is in council’s hand.
For a $5.45 million pilot, the data collected is lengthy, and every inch of the plan has set targets. Checking in on streets before, during and after, the city was measuring the standard figures, like ridership, but they also recorded collision stats with the help of CPS, they surveyed Calgarians at three points to track satisfaction with the roadways – and made more than 100 tweaks during the project to improve the network.
While cycling ridership went up 40 per cent in the core, and unlawful sidewalk rides went down to two per cent from 16 per cent before the pilot and 67 per cent approval for the track – several targets weren’t met.
The 5 Street SW and portions of 12 Avenue SW crushed their targets, but in the end, 8 Avenue SW lagged behind.
Looking back, bike boss Tom Thivener said the pilot’s shortfalls were the impacts it made (to parking, loading) and the changes that people had to slowly get used to. But for him there were many positives.
“It not only makes it more attractive for more people to cycle, it’s attractive to people who don’t have as much confidence out on the road,” said Thivener. “Making it more predictable for all road users.”
In one week, councillors will get their fist chance since the pilot launched to publicly debate the project’s merits.
“The primary purpose of our cycle track network was to establish an additional mobility option that will allow us to continue to grow our vibrant downtown,” said Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra. “For extremely little cost and disruption to existing modes, we’ve established an option that’s made cycling a viable mobility choice downtown, and has tremendous opportunity to grow.”
Disruptions were measurable. The tracks did add a maximum 90-second delay to certain commutes, but the data also showed minimal collisions (39), even instances where vehicle collisions went down compared to pre-pilot numbers. And Thivener noted the problem areas often had easy fixes, with future tweaks that could improve the network even more.
According to the city’s minutes, Couns. Joe Maggliocca, Sean Chu, Peter Demong, Ward Sutherland, Diane Colley-Urquhart, Jim Stevenson and Ray Jones voted against the city centre pilot project in 2014 when the pilot was ultimately approved.