Cycle track pilot pedaling towards council decision
Committee goes full steam all day debating merits of 18 month pilot
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It went all night long, and folks, this is just the prequel.
If the transportation and transit committee is any indication of council’s appetite to keep the cycle tracks, the decision on the pilot in two weeks will have municipal politicians split between keeping the existing infrastructure in place as is, or seeking more improvements for the tiny existing network.
In 2014 the eight to seven split vote for the cycle track was so close, it would seem there was a lot hanging in the balance for the pilot that administration said met 70 per cent of the targets set by council.
“I see no reason to remove them at this point,” said Coun. Shane Keating. “They’ve met a good number of the targets, they haven’t met them all…I’m not sure we should be spending an awful lot of capital money making them permanent today.”
Keating has heard as it is, the tracks could stand easily for another five years.
Thursday's meeting was punctuated by those who were in favour of the tracks, dead set against them, okay with the network except on 8 Avenue, or simply there to berate administration on their data sharing techniques.
Notable was the response from the business community, which has been vocal before and during the cycle track pilot, about the merit of the protected bikeways in front of storefronts where they may take away nearby parking, or interrupt their delivery vehicles, and could be bad for business on top of the stresses from the economic downturn.
Bonny Anderson, who was speaking on behalf of the Keynote Development, the relatively new development along 12 Avenue southwest, said business owners facing the cycle track, have several issues with the tracks.
Calgary's Downtown Association submitted a four-page letter, indicating they recommend the entire 8 Avenue track be removed.
"It clearly does not provide the desirable corridor route for cyclists," reads the letter. It continues to say the CDA commissioned their own engineering study, and if the Stephen Avenue track remains in place, asks the city to "seriously consider" it.
Along with the businesses perceptions, the city did find customers were spending an average of $20 less at downtown businesses. Per day, since the cycle track was installed, the city found on average 20 fewer customers daily since the baseline survey in 2014.
But not all business was so skeptical, in the Beltline, The Victoria Park Business Improvement Area’s executive director David Low said his group fully supports administration’s recommendations, and have had several businesses open and become successful despite the track and downturn.
“We haven’t even begun to touch the gas on this yet,” said Low. “If we really started leaning on it with a comprehensive education and engagement program to the businesses, then we’d start bridging that gap.”
At the end of the night, the committee voted to move the matter to council without making any recommendations. It is now in council's hands.