Cycling advocates in Calgary are calling for safer bike infrastructure across the city after numerous reports of icy and snowy bike lanes from cyclists.
Bike Calgary, a local volunteer organization that advocates for safer bike infrastructure, recently launched a campaign to gather stories from cyclists about their experiences using bike lanes across the city.
Bike Calgary’s president Molli Bennett said the majority of responses are complaints about the lack of snow and ice clearing for bike lanes across the city.
“Improper snow clearing creates a hazard for cyclists and also pushes cyclists into the road more, creating more conflict between drivers and cyclists which nobody wants,” Bennett said.
“I have experienced a lot of sketchy things on bikes in winter, and the snow adds an element to that. It can force you to drive out into traffic and then you’ve got cars driving much closer than you’d like.”
But snow clearing isn’t the only issue cyclists worry about.
Brett Bergie, a lifelong cyclist, said the city does a good job with keeping downtown bike lanes clear of snow and ice in the winter.
However, Bergie noted that painted bike lanes aren’t enough to protect cyclists from vehicles in the city.
“Overall, cycling is quite reliable downtown. There are some exceptions, some problem spots, but generally speaking, I feel like we’re hitting a high standard in downtown Calgary,” she said.
“But I would like what they’re doing downtown to be replicated elsewhere in the city. That includes physical protection between cyclists and motorists which enables machinery to come in and clear the snow more thoroughly out of the track.
“Paint is not infrastructure. People need that physical separation from traffic in order to feel safe, particularly users who are children.
“Women as well are particularly sensitive to riding with motor traffic so we need to appeal to broader demographics to get them onto the bike.”
Calgary resident Natalie Rupert said while the city needs to improve its snow clearing in general, it’s important that cyclists have clear and safe bike lanes to ride on.
“I live downtown and I see a lot of people biking, even when it’s -40 out. It’s slippery and icy,” Rupert told Global News.
“I think it benefits everybody because with all the pollution it’s better if more people are cycling and walking places. Why not encourage that?”
But despite the complaints, Bennett said the city is receptive to improving its biking infrastructure. She said some areas of the city have barriers between the road and bike lanes.
“We’ve had painted infrastructure for a long time before the best practices changed, so we know that city administration is working hard to bring us up to those standards,” she said.
Bennett also said Bike Calgary is meeting with city staff next week to chat about better protection for cyclists in the city.
“We are a volunteer-run organization but we collect information from users and then have conversations with the city about it. We’re considered a stakeholder in the city and they listen to us and we work collaboratively to try and solve some of the issues,” Bennett said.
“We have positive relationships with the city… we have hopes that the city is on our side. They’ve got a lot to deal with and it’s not an easy job, but we believe that they can do better and that they will.”