April 17, 2014 7:38 am

Dozens show up to debate bike lanes in Calgary

A committee meeting on a controversial cycle track plan stretched well into the evening at Calgary city hall on Wednesday.

Some in attendance waited 12 hours to make a passionate pitch for, or against, car-free bike lanes on several downtown streets.

The proposed $9 million project would cut traffic and parking space in an effort to make downtown Calgary more cycling friendly.

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READ MORECity unveils plans for network of downtown cycle tracks

The plan has ignited debate about whether the plan is feasible in areas like Chinatown, where community organizers say traffic is already too congested.

Others believe more pedal pushing in Calgary will encourage residents to be more active and improve safety for cyclists.

The Calgary Downtown Association is opposed to a track on Stephen Avenue.

Executive Director Maggie Schofield points out that cyclists and pedestrians already clash in the busy area.

“We just don’t believe it’s the right place to start,” she says.

Councillor Joe Maggliocca agrees.

“I would consider moving some tracks around and doing a pilot project with that,” he says. “Study it for two years or so and then get some feedback.”

Some on council would like to see the cycle track tested, including Mayor Naheed Nenshi.

“There’s already been a significant reduction in the testing cost,” he points out. “I don’t know if it will pass but I think the kind of debate we’re having is a good one.”

The transportation committee voted to endorse the downtown cycle track network following nearly 14 hours of debate.

The plan will go to council for final approval on April 28th.

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