Bridge gets makeover as Calgary cycling groups push to make active transportation an election issue

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Bridge gets makeover as Calgary cycling groups push to make active transportation an election issue
A Calgary bridge that spans Deerfoot Trail just got a makeover. As Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports, it's about raising awareness of the need to make the city safer for pedestrians and cyclists – Oct 10, 2021

The 8th Avenue bridge over Deerfoot Trail is now much brighter thanks to a group of community volunteers who are pushing for better active transportation infrastructure in Calgary.

The separated pedestrian lane has gone from dull grey to brilliant colours with geometric patterns.

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“I think it brings a lot of safety, it beautifies it and it’s a really great way to give back,” said artist and Calgary school teacher Alisha Ingbritson.

A group of around 100 volunteers painted the bridge over several weekends. The efforts are part of a movement called United the Heights.

Community members are hoping to create better bike and pedestrian connections between Crescent Heights, Renfrew, Mayland Heights and Radisson Heights.

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Ingbritson said community members are pushing for the separated pedestrian path to be widened. She said with hills on either side, vehicles pick up a lot of speed on 8th Avenue.

“It can be scary, absolutely,” Ingbritson said.

“I have been biking on this path with my children in a bike trailer, and it’s either go on the road and go with the traffic or you come onto the pedestrian bridge and then it’s really tight and uncomfortable.”

Bike Calgary, in partnership with Youth En Route, distributed a survey this month regarding active transportation to all Calgary mayoral and ward candidates to help voters know where they stand.

Youth en Route is an advocacy and education group established this year with the goal of getting more students to bike to school.

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“Just a simple hundred feet of pavement in one area could make a dramatic difference to the safety of students going to a school in an area,” said Youth en Route executive director Laura Shutiak.

Shutiak hopes this election will give voters the chance to dig into candidates’ platforms to see which ones are seeking more options for active transportation choices.

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“Calgary is at a bit of a crossroads. We are a city that is changing very quickly,” Shutiak said.

“There is an opportunity for this city council to make our city much safer for pedestrians and for bikers and for people who use scooters or skateboards.”

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Bike Calgary and Youth en Route have not endorsed any candidates.

Shutiak said around a third of candidates have responded to the survey.

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