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New Calgary cycle track extension connects with Bow River Pathway

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New Calgary cycle track extension connects with the Bow River Pathway
WATCH: People who use bikes to get around Calgary are applauding the city's plans to connect the Bow River Pathway system to the 12 Avenue cycle track. As Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports, the Sunalta Community Association supports the plan but some residents are concerned about the loss of the parking spots – Dec 8, 2019

The city is hosting an information session on Wednesday to show Calgarians the plans to extend the 12 Avenue cycle track.

The track opened in 2015.

Currently, it runs from Victoria Park to 15 Street S.W. The city plans to push it to 19 Street and then north so the tracks connect with the Bow River Pathway.

“Twelfth Ave. sees a lot of traffic,” said Bike Calgary president Gary Millard.

“Even through the winter, the daily cycle counts are seeing many hundreds of travellers every day, and in the summer, it’s into the thousands. Those are people who are choosing to bike instead of taking up road space or parking space in cars. It’s a lot easier for drivers if they don’t have to share the space with cyclists as well.”

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Millard said creating the extension to the Bow River Pathway is an important step in building a complete biking network in Calgary.

“It’s one thing to have a recreational pathway system that is nice to toodle around on a Sunday afternoon, but if you really want to get to a destination in order to use one particular mode of transit — in this case, cycling — you want to make sure you have safe connections all the way through,” Millard said.

“The 12 Avenue cycle tracks were a fantastic build in Calgary, but when they ended at 11 Street, they didn’t connect to a lot of the other pathways further west or on the river valley pathway.”

The Sunalta Community Association supports the city’s plan but would like to see parking remain on 12 Avenue. Members are hoping design changes will make the road feel more like it is going through a residential neighbourhood.

“We have a large number of people who either cycle to work or use bicycles to get around within the community, and going to the Beltline, grocery stores and other amenities. So having a safe and easy way to do that all times of the year is very exciting,” said Micheal Jones, director of development and planning with the Sunalta Community Association.

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“Like any kind of commuter route across the city, people tend to speed a lot more. So along 12 Avenue, especially once people come around the corner at 19 Street, it’s just open. They tend to lay on the gas because that’s what the design says.”

The city plans to remove parking on the north side of 12 Avenue to accommodate the cycle track. People who live there said on-street parking is already tough to come by.

“I think it’s going to be a bit of a tragedy because people are going to have a hard time finding a spot to park,” said Ben Traeger, who lives on 12 Avenue.

A few centimetres of snow didn’t stop Natalie Sit from hopping on her bike on a chilly Sunday morning. She said the 12 Avenue cycle track keeps her and her family safe while riding downtown, adding that the city does a good job clearing the snow.

Sit is looking forward to seeing the 12 Avenue cycle track extended.

“I think that’s awesome. It’s something I think the community wants, and it will help the Beltline and Sunalta communities connect to the river pathway,” Sit said.

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According to the city, 12 Avenue is one of the top five busiest bikeways in Calgary. Construction on the extension is expected to start in the spring or summer of 2020.

Public input about the 12 Avenue project was collected in spring 2019. The city project team talked to 260 people and over 60 businesses through open house events and online.

The city information session will be held at the Sunalta Community Hall on Dec. 11 from 6:30-8:30 p.m.

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