CALGARY – Vehicles rein king as the chosen form of transportation in Calgary; but as fuel costs rise, more and more people are looking for a cheaper way to make it from point A to B.
The city’s cycling community says making the city more “bike friendly” will save millions of dollars in transportation infrastructure, ease traffic tie-ups and get more people active.
But even if the city was to improve and expand bike lanes, would more people pedal to work?
Murray Jao already commutes on his bicycle but says navigating Calgary’s downtown core can be a risky endeavour.
“You just have to have your radar on like you wouldn’t believe! I’ve been “doored” twice downtown, hit on the crosswalk when someone came through the flashing lights.”
The city is working on a cycling strategy to improve safety in the core.
“I would agree downtown it feels very unsafe and you are exposed and vulnerable as a cyclist,” says Councillor Druh Farrell.
According to our 2011 Ipsos Reid Canada’s Pulse poll, 19 per cent of Calgary commuters would consider pedal power if the strategy was put into place.
Currently, only two per cent of Calgarians cycle to work. That type of change would be a game changer for an overcrowded downtown.
“Everyone on a bike is one less person on a crowded CTrain or one less person in a car on the road,” says Mayor Naheed Nenshi.
The strategy is considered a priority but city budget concerns are proving to be a hurdle.
“We still have to find almost $20-million in budget,” says Nenshi.
Councillor Farrell is leading the push for temporary lane markers on a trial basis to see where permanent lanes would be needed. There are also plans to curb conflicts between cyclists and pedestrians on city pathways.
Twinning has taken place on the East Village’s new Riverwalk.
“There is a home for cyclists, home for pedestrians, even home for mom with a stroller and a home for a guy on a run,” says CEO of the East Village project Michael Brown.
“Ultimately our hope is this becomes a meeting place too.”
After surviving the downtown jungle for the past 20 years, cyclist Murray is looking forward to a safer commute in the coming years.