News / Calgary

Calgary group proposes the next cycle track, and it's on 17th Ave SW

A grassroots group is hoping to get a conversation started about a 17 Avenue SW cycle track

Jeff Binks has a plan to get a cycle track on 17 Avenue SW.

Jennifer Friesen / for Metro

Jeff Binks has a plan to get a cycle track on 17 Avenue SW.

As the city enters its second year of the 17 Avenue SW reconstruction, one group is hoping to spur a Red Mile spinoff, and get a conversation about cycle tracks on the popular stretch.

A grassroots group is hoping the city will rethink its 17 Avenue SW reconstruction plans and tweak them to make the major roadway a multi-modal paradise. Their 16-page proposal suggests adding cycle tracks, incorporating a lane-reversal and installing available space parking counters to lead motorists to available parking.

“The way we look at it, it’s been over a decade since 17th Avenue became the Red Mile — a destination that draws people from across Calgary, and yet we still haven’t seen a significant level of investment from the City of Calgary recognizing that fact,” said plan proponent Jeff Binks.

“Pretty much what’s happening is businesses are paying Red Mile rent and not seeing Red Mile returns.”

His group, a handful of engaged citizens, have met with a number of businesses along the stretch and, although there’s no clear consensus on their proposed plan, Binks said there’s an appetite to look at improvements to the 17 Avenue construction plans.

The city is on year two of its four-year construction project to revamp the major thoroughfare.

The consultation, according to a city spokeswoman, took two years to craft. The final result is meant to balance the needs of everyone who uses the avenue, but will also replace 100-year-old utilities for the future needs of the area.

The city said cyclists are being accommodated on the 5th Street cycle track and through various Livable Streets projects in the area.

Peter Oliver, the Beltline Neighbourhood Association president, said it may be a good conversation to have once the dust settles on the city’s construction plans.

“There has to be engagement with (17 Avenue) businesses to make sure that a cycle track is done right, or that that’s the place for it,” said Oliver.

“Now might be the time to start talking about it, maybe not necessarily implementing it.”

As it stands, Oliver said the city’s plans for the reconstruction don’t push the envelope for change on 17th.

“It was initiated as a roads project that was all about replacing aging infrastructure,” said Oliver. “Ideally, it would have been more of a revisioning of 17 Avenue instead of a tweaking.”

But he said there may be other places to put cycling infrastructure in the nearby residential roads.

Binks concedes that it may be too late to look at his group’s ideas because the city is halfway through the construction process. But he hopes launching the Red Mile Complete Street proposal might get a conversation about Calgary’s ultimate main street.

“It’s not about making Calgary into Amsterdam or Copenhagen,” said Binks. “But it is about adopting a best practice like we see in places like Banff, or Salt Lake City, or Kelowna and applying them to 17 Avenue.”

The first ask from the project, and what the group hopes can be done as a starting point, is a survey of visitors to find out what transportation mode 17 Avenue frequenters are using to get to the popular shopping spot.

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