Calgary council votes to make downtown cycle track permanent
Amendments require City of Calgary administration to spend more capital to make the project better for businesses and motorists, especially on 12 Avenue
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It should stay, it shouldn't go.
That's what council has ultimately decided after hours of debate on a contentious item: should we keep the downtown cycle track network?
The 10 to four vote showed council has changed its stripes since the pilot was proposed and voted for in 2014 with eight votes for and seven against.
"This has been a very very interesting project for a number of reasons," said Mayor Naheed Nenshi. "But I want to say that in one way it has been extremely helpful for us on both sides, because this crazy debate...has forced us to do a better job."
He said proponents were forced to analyze and think about the benefits, and skeptics forced administration to be thoughtful in the implementation.
Peter Oliver, of Calgarians for Cycle Tracks, said his group is thrilled council listened to citizens and businesses.
"Calgary is a better city for this decision," said Oliver. "The disproportionate amount of scrutiny on this tiny project never made sense."
Coun. Shane Keating brought some amendments to administration’s recommendations. He asked that the remaining money not yet spent ($1.65 million) be used to improve parking, loading and other transit issues.
He also asked that administration use the current tracks as is, instead of upgrading the infrastructure to be more permanent. And finally, Keating asked that the cycle track team and Green Line team meet to discuss how the network would look with the Beltline Green Line alignment.
Coun. Sean Chu offered a motion to swap out 12 Avenue for 10 Avenue to improve vehicle traffic on that part of the track, and remove part of the 8 Avenue track west of 3 Street SW, which was underperforming on the city’s bike targets. His motion was ultimately lost.
Chu wasn’t the only member to ask for 12 Avenue track not be permanent. Coun. Andre Chabot also wanted to take a wait and see approach with the alignment; he said he wasn’t happy with that portion of the network. His motion asked to come back with a cycle track alignment after working with the Green Line group, perhaps with plans to make that portion permanent.
Coun. Ward Sutherland said he’d purposefully driven on 12 Avenue approximately 75 times in the last few months to see what all the fuss was about.
“It’s extremely confusing, it actually doesn’t make it safe, it frustrates everybody,”
said Sutherland. "Unless it's fixed, unless we can do something to make it right, I can't support the program. I hate an all or nothing."
A portion of Chabot’s motion also failed, but council will get a report on how 12 Avenue will work with the Green Line project.
Coun. Evan Woolley said whether the Green Line is at surface or underground will have an impact on the cycle track. The extra cash on the budget will help get traffic flowing better on 12 Avenue, where administration noted an average 90 second delay in commutes after the cycle tracks were installed.
"The cycle track pilot proved itself out," said Woolley. "We did an immense amount of data collection, an immense amount of advocacy, and Calgarians used the cycle track a lot...and it showed itself in the vote today."