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potatopizzafan

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This is getting somewhere - Strava slants to the exercise cyclist routes, but at least isn't just work trips only and gives you the actual route. Probably a reasonable proxy for "cycling preferred" routes. Check out the strava heatmap for some interesting findings here. I summarized my quick thoughts below:


Below is the bicycle-only heat map for central Calgary, the river pathway network is the clear backbone as expected. In blue I highlighted likely mountain bicycle routes, green is more interesting as it relates to infrastructure.

NE green highlight - there's a surprisingly long and consistent N-S pathway through Whitehorn, Rundle and Westwinds, along with circuitous but connective routes past Sunridge into Nose Creek. Compare that to Marlbourough to the south with few routes and no infrastructure. Imagine if that N-S pathway was upgraded from an accidentally useful windy suburban pathway to something more direct and supportive of bicycles for transportation? Would totally be a backbone to the whole NE network.

SW green highlights - Spruce Drive and 26th Avenue bicycle lanes are clearly visible. Also a strong showing is 45 Street SW, a super direct connection N-S but no pathway or bicycle infrastructure at all. Also note how 26th Ave decreases in brightness right as it passes Crowchild - bike lanes disappear right as you really need them to go up a hill. Cyclists scatter off to side streets awkwardly.

SE green highlights - the new pathway on the BRT bridge to Forest Lawn area is a key connection. If the pathway network expands into Forest Lawn properly, this will be a backbone to that part of the SE. As it just ends currently, note how cyclist routes scatter - if there's no good direct route safer and more reasonable than the others, cyclists scatter all over to make the best of it, just like 26th Ave in the SW.

Centre green highlights - cycletracks. Totally build it and they will come story not critical backbone infrastructure. 5th Street,12th Ave and Stephen Ave are all clearly visible. Harder to see - 9th Avenue, one of the most hostile pedestrian and cycling streets there is with no infrastructure. Unsurprisingly it barely registers. If we want bicycles off of Stephen, we would really need a serious, high-quality alternative.
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View attachment 342712
They really need to extend that bike line on 26 ave all the way to 14 st. There is a big missing connection from Crowchild to 14th
 

MichaelS

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Would be super nice to have an express bike path alongside MacLeod trail linking the South to DT. Not sure if feasible though

Imagine something with a tunnel so people could bike all year round.

I'm probably dreaming.
The MacLeod Trail corridor study showed exactly this. However, I don't know if council actually approved the cross section north of 58th Avenue. I seem to recall them balking at the cost to implement it,.when there was no increase in vehicle lanes. Essentially, around $100 million for Boulevard trees, wider sidewalks and bike lanes.
 

darwink

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The MacLeod Trail corridor study showed exactly this. However, I don't know if council actually approved the cross section north of 58th Avenue. I seem to recall them balking at the cost to implement it,.when there was no increase in vehicle lanes. Essentially, around $100 million for Boulevard trees, wider sidewalks and bike lanes.
Yeah it came at the worse possible time. And had no champion to argue for it. I think given 17th SE’s transformation, perhaps the idea should get another look.
 

GoVertical

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Does anyone know what's going on with the interesection of 5th st and 58th Avenue SW behind Chinook? I see the city is making the sidewalks accessible but they have also installed a bike light facing south. I tried looking on the city's website but I cannot find any info on it other than sidewalk repair. I really hope they make 5th street more cycling friendly or at the very least get rid of that shitty alleyway/pathway that connects the intersection to Meadowlark Park! It would be nice to have a protected lane all the way to Elboya, but I just can't figure out why there's a bike light all of a sudden?
 

CBBarnett

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Does anyone know what's going on with the interesection of 5th st and 58th Avenue SW behind Chinook? I see the city is making the sidewalks accessible but they have also installed a bike light facing south. I tried looking on the city's website but I cannot find any info on it other than sidewalk repair. I really hope they make 5th street more cycling friendly or at the very least get rid of that shitty alleyway/pathway that connects the intersection to Meadowlark Park! It would be nice to have a protected lane all the way to Elboya, but I just can't figure out why there's a bike light all of a sudden?
Meadowlark Park has got to be one of the most out of place neighbourhoods in the city, right up there with University Heights. Built at the same time as the adjacent activity centre, but failed to change at all despite a mega expansion in activity right next door. Failed to change so hard that a simple pathway connection or consistent sidewalk along 5th Street hasn't ever existed, despite 60 years of mall development adjacent to it. I'll save my land use complaints for another thread :)

I am 100% convinced that 5 Street SW near Chinook could lose a whole lane for a high quality pathway connection and be just fine. With a good connection past Chinook and into Kingsland, it would plug consistently into the next stretch of low-traffic streets as far south as Heritage and a pretty decent connection E-W to the Elbow River system.
 

ByeByeBaby

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I was out at the car free Sunday in Inglewood -- it was awesome, by the way, and the businesses were thriving. But it made a gap in the pathway system super-apparent.

The path across the new bridge from St Patrick's Island is a two-way path on the west side of the road. There's now an adaptive lane on 12th/11th St SE from 9th Ave in Inglewood down to 21st Ave in Ramsay (it should be extended all the way to the Crossroads Market; it's a very quiet road with under 800 vehicles southbound in the peak hour); this is also a two-way lane on the west side of the road. But for two short blocks -- 150m from 9th Ave to the bridge, there's one-way cycle tracks on both sides of the street.

So if you're going south, there's a continuous path. If you're going north, you have 800m of adaptive lane, then you 're supposed to cross three lanes of traffic (I suppose by walking across at the light), then riding two blocks on the east side of the street, then going on a 200m loop under the bridge and back around to keep going north. It's ridiculous; there's enough room on the road to make the two-way protected facility continuous all the way on the west side. On Sunday, I noticed at least a dozen cyclists just riding the wrong way on the one-way west side cycle track, and literally nobody doing the "correct" thing. Here's the area, with the southbound route shown in red and the northbound one in blue

1629758993241.png
 

Col du Edworthy

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I was out at the car free Sunday in Inglewood -- it was awesome, by the way, and the businesses were thriving. But it made a gap in the pathway system super-apparent.

The path across the new bridge from St Patrick's Island is a two-way path on the west side of the road. There's now an adaptive lane on 12th/11th St SE from 9th Ave in Inglewood down to 21st Ave in Ramsay (it should be extended all the way to the Crossroads Market; it's a very quiet road with under 800 vehicles southbound in the peak hour); this is also a two-way lane on the west side of the road. But for two short blocks -- 150m from 9th Ave to the bridge, there's one-way cycle tracks on both sides of the street.

So if you're going south, there's a continuous path. If you're going north, you have 800m of adaptive lane, then you 're supposed to cross three lanes of traffic (I suppose by walking across at the light), then riding two blocks on the east side of the street, then going on a 200m loop under the bridge and back around to keep going north. It's ridiculous; there's enough room on the road to make the two-way protected facility continuous all the way on the west side. On Sunday, I noticed at least a dozen cyclists just riding the wrong way on the one-way west side cycle track, and literally nobody doing the "correct" thing. Here's the area, with the southbound route shown in red and the northbound one in blue

View attachment 343520
The fact we continue to get bike infrastructure like this really makes me question if the people designing it have every ridden a bike. I just don't understand how anyone who actively rides as their transportation choice could build this and not see the barriers it creates.

Or is the system so broken that even though they realize the design has flaws there's no way to correct it?
 
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Surrealplaces

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I definitely got a kick out of this 😅
Sad but true. Calgary has come along way with cycling infrastructure in the last few years, but we still have a long, long ways to go to catch up to cities like Amsterdam or Copenhagen.
I realize those cities are the bar when it comes to cycling infrastructure but still it would be nice to keeping pushing to have that.
 

Disraeli

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Here is the companion video to the above video:

It goes to show that even though our cycle network has been a huge step forward, it barely makes a dent in how road space is used in this city. I've said this before but the city needs to stop picking away at the corners and really dig deep into the core issues of our transportation network.
 
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CBBarnett

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The fact we continue to get bike infrastructure like this really makes me question if the people designing it have every ridden a bike. I just don't understand how anyone who actively rides as their transportation choice could build this and not see the barriers it creates.

Or is the system so broken that even though they realize the design has flaws there's no way to correct it?
The answer to the Inglewood piece is a continuous bi-directional path from the river through to Crossroads Market.

The problem isn't that designers of the bicycle network don't know this, the problem is that bicycle stuff is not a priority and still doesn't get elevated to the level of "transportation" the way that cars have been, as they have been for decades in Amsterdam. This remains true despite massive improvements over the past decade in Calgary for on-street infrastructure and general acknowledgement that bicycles are really part of the transportation network fabric.

The backbone of the bicycle transportation network is largely a happy accident triggered by improvements in how park space should be used in the 1970s and 1980s, not from a transportation need to provide efficient bicycle routes as transportation. The Bow River pathway system was largely created from this perspective and functions amazingly consistent as a transportation route by North American standards. We are super lucky it worked out this way.

However, there are issues that aren't addressed because it's a park and recreation thing. It's funded and planned like a park and recreation thing. Some sections are too narrow. Some sections are curvy for no reason. The general state of repair is not always great. The occasional upgrades that do happen are typically done from the idea of having a nice park space, not improvements to capacity or travel time (not that those are always conflicting goals).

To illustrate this further, I'll pick on a niche issue on the Bow River Pathway, just west of Crowchild Bridge.
  • This section is always busy and is tight for space due to a bottleneck in two ways - a combined pedestrian and cyclist pathway and a bunch of poles left haphazardly further narrowing the pathway width. Summer weekends it's very congested and practically a slow zone, but even most times of day all year round requires careful passing in either direction as it's always busy enough and the pathway is tight enough.
  • First picture is from 2021 - as far as I am aware there has never been a plan to widen it or address the crowding that occurs, let alone just shift the poles out of the way a metre. The light isn't even directed onto the pathway as a perk for the inconvenience of having a pole in the way.

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  • Same poles from 2009. Road has been resurfaced at least once, barriers improved but nothing done to improve capacity or width of the pathway since this picture.
1629990913570.png


What happens when a road has a similar capacity and safety issue historically?
  • The city often spends decades expropriating land or even if they don't get around to capacity expansion, they will enshrine setbacks into the land use in the event they might expand the road one day. I doubt this has ever occurred for a pathway or even a sidewalk.
  • A project will emerge, be funded and completed over the same time period as those two pictures were taken to allow for that expansion - quite literally in this case with the $90M Crowchild bridge expansion. I also recall the pathway bridge under it being closed due to construction for 2 years while traffic above was accommodated through construction as it was "critical". Again, bias that cars = transportation, bicycles and pathway users can just go around because they are probably just out there for fun anyways.
What do we have in the works for increasing the pathway's capacity and usability?
  • As far as I am aware, nothing. Despite all the cycling strategies, transportation pyramids, climate initiatives, priority network maps etc.
  • I do know we are planning to build this one day (see below). I circled the area where the poles are and likely to remain for decades to come by the looks of it. Note all the future expropriations for further highway capacity expansion.
  • Also note the only cycling improvement added - a curvy pathway bridge that goes up and over Memorial east of Crowchild. A pathway overpass is actually just car infrastructure dressed up - the goal is to ensure cars can move quickly at high capacity, not make it easier for pathway users. If pathway users were the priority we'd keep them on ground level.
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All this gets to my conclusion. I think one avenue for improving the cycling system in Calgary is to treat the bicycle like a car. Not in the regressive way that those self-hating vehicular cyclists mean from the 1980s, but in the literal planning, engineering and budgeting way. This would take us closer to Amsterdam:
  • Set minimum pathway widths and standards to separate pedestrians and cyclists with zero tolerance for exceptions. We'd never put a pole in a driving lane or expect a pedestrian to walk in the middle of Memorial Drive, we should never put one in a pathway. Where widths are too narrow, that would trigger the bureaucratic black box machine common in roads projects to just spool up a new projects and smooth out all bottlenecks over time.
  • Flip the priority - where a trade-off needs to be made just default to the pathway instead of the car. In the case of this bottleneck, Memorial would be reduced by a lane or shifted over decades ago to accommodate a reasonable pathway width.
  • Set long-term expropriation and setback plans for pathways. Luckily we won't need these often as bicycle stuff is so narrow and efficient compared to cars but the principle is important. A pathway in a straight line will exist here one day so be sure to get out of the way.
That's our one competitive advantage - we are clearly really, really good at long term arterial road network planning and implementation. Just take those same people and put them on pathways planning and projects, tweak the priority but keep the bureaucratic machine the same otherwise. We'd churn out high-capacity cycling routes in all directions in no time.
 

Silence&Motion

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Thanks for posting the video! They're great, but I will just say that it's a little unfair that the Calgary guy chose to take Macleod Trail when there are several better alternatives that don't add any extra time (e.g. Elbow River pathway). It seems like the Calgary route was designed to illustrate some of the city's major failings.
 

Disraeli

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Thanks for posting the video! They're great, but I will just say that it's a little unfair that the Calgary guy chose to take Macleod Trail when there are several better alternatives that don't add any extra time (e.g. Elbow River pathway). It seems like the Calgary route was designed to illustrate some of the city's major failings.
I think that was the point as well. It displays that biking, or active modes generally, is not viewed as a legitimate priority for the city. The logical routes to get from the Library, or the eastern portion of City Center to Chinook would be MacLeod. The central portion would be similar to the route taken in the video 4th street through Roxboro. And then Elbow pathway and then up Elbow drive if you live west. None of those routes come even close to supporting active modes from start to finish and you could make the same videos for commutes to the universities, hospitals, and every other major center in the city. It's sad because there is no legitimate reason for neglecting this infrastructure apart from our addiction to enabling heavy car volumes during a 4hour window during the week days.

Pretty much every major arterial road in and out of the core has the capacity to accommodate this infrastructure. It's a bum deal for people that the 100000+ who live in inner city neighbourhoods to have their transportation needs given less priority than suburban commuters who use the roads for a few hours each day a best.
 

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