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Mountain Man

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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.
That was exactly my thought when I watched it.
 

ByeByeBaby

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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 it's a little unfair that cyclists would be expected to travel 8.5 km to make a 6 km trip to maximize use of better infrastructure. I put the trip into Google, and it's suggested shortest cycle trip (7.5 km) would have gone around the Stampede, then on Spiller, Manchester and a bunch of other crummy industrial roads east of Macleod. In fact, his chosen route actually increased the use of high quality pathway and cycle track infrastructure.

The alternate path that Google suggested with increased use of the pathway (8.5 km) went down the Elbow to Stanley Park, then mostly down 5th St. The route he took (8.1 km, with a couple of weird zig-zags) only had 5 blocks on Macleod, then a bunch on side streets that are no better or worse than the alternative of 5th St would have been. Macleod is a major corridor with a lot of businesses along it (there are many similar roads in other parts of the city; 16th Ave, 32nd Ave, etc.) and I think it's instructive to show what cycling infrastructure is or isn't available.

It's a sort of Stockholm syndrome to think that since we have a bunch of major corridors and areas that are utterly hostile to cyclists, we should just pretend that it's unfair that cyclists might want to actually go there some day.
 

Silence&Motion

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All good points, but the Amsterdam guy specifically says (at 4:50): "In the Netherlands, the routes taken by cars and the routes taken by bicycles are purposefully made different so that there is as little interaction as possible." He's purposely taking a route designed for cyclists, whereas the Calgary guy is taking the route designed for cars. It's a little like comparing apples and oranges, although Amsterdam would still win hands down even if the Calgary guy took a more bicycle-friendly route.
 

boreal96

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All good points, but the Amsterdam guy specifically says (at 4:50): "In the Netherlands, the routes taken by cars and the routes taken by bicycles are purposefully made different so that there is as little interaction as possible." He's purposely taking a route designed for cyclists, whereas the Calgary guy is taking the route designed for cars. It's a little like comparing apples and oranges, although Amsterdam would still win hands down even if the Calgary guy took a more bicycle-friendly route.

He didn't purposely chose this route, all the routes are like this.

I cycle everyday in Calgary and everyday I have to take routes designed for cars. There was no bias in the video. I lived in both Amsterdam and Calgary and it honestly gives a fair pictures of both cities. Actually many people were positively surprised by Calgary, they were expecting way worse from a North American Oil city where its freezing half of the year!
 

DougB

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Calgary is easily one of North America's most bike friendly cities simply due to its extensive dedicated pathway network, which no city even approaches. Yes "last mile" on street connectivity is still an issue, but the pathway network is so huge that it accommodates most of the distance on a large majority of trips. Calgary's weather and sprawl challenge cycling much moreso that does alleged lack of infrastructure.
 

ByeByeBaby

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All good points, but the Amsterdam guy specifically says (at 4:50): "In the Netherlands, the routes taken by cars and the routes taken by bicycles are purposefully made different so that there is as little interaction as possible." He's purposely taking a route designed for cyclists, whereas the Calgary guy is taking the route designed for cars. It's a little like comparing apples and oranges, although Amsterdam would still win hands down even if the Calgary guy took a more bicycle-friendly route.
Literally the sentence before the one you quote notes that this pathway is through a park, but it is not just a recreational path, "it is well connected and actually takes you where you want to go". He is taking a path that happens to go through a park, but it's straight and offers the same connectivity as a car would have. Here's the path he's taking at this point of the video (starting lower right); his cycle path is in green, the orange is a parallel road less than 100m away, and the pink is a higher capacity parallel road about 800m away. He's taking the cycling path but it's essentially no further than he would have gone otherwise, and it's probably shorter than the route he would take in a car. (PS: both the parallel roads highlighted have wide, separated cycle paths.)
1630019271445.png


This is the situation along Macleod, same scale, the cycle route in green, the high capacity road in pink, bike route from the video in yellow.
1630020346679.png

They're both taking more or less the best available cycling infrastructure that actually goes to the destination, not just taking whatever good cycling infrastructure is vaguely in the same postal code. He's not riding on Memorial and ignoring the pathway running parallel, he's decided to not take a route that meanders (and is a lovely recreational ride!) nowhere near where he wants to go. It's not like the Calgary guy is taking Macleod to go to Sandy Beach park, he's taking Macleod to go to... a business located on Macleod.

Fundamentally, the reason the Calgary guy is taking a route designed for cars is all of our routes are designed for cars.
 

Disraeli

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Calgary is easily one of North America's most bike friendly cities simply due to its extensive dedicated pathway network, which no city even approaches. Yes "last mile" on street connectivity is still an issue, but the pathway network is so huge that it accommodates most of the distance on a large majority of trips. Calgary's weather and sprawl challenge cycling much moreso that does alleged lack of infrastructure.
The lack of infrastructure is obvious not alleged. Weather and sprawl might limit our ability to reach certain thresholds of active mode share that you see in dense, temperate European cities but it is not an excuse for poor connectivity in areas that can easily support it. At this point Calgary has acceptable bike infrastructure only when you compare to many NA cities but that's simply a low bar. We need a-lot more investment and political will power to have a system that is a functionally good means of moving people.
 

CBBarnett

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Literally the sentence before the one you quote notes that this pathway is through a park, but it is not just a recreational path, "it is well connected and actually takes you where you want to go". He is taking a path that happens to go through a park, but it's straight and offers the same connectivity as a car would have. Here's the path he's taking at this point of the video (starting lower right); his cycle path is in green, the orange is a parallel road less than 100m away, and the pink is a higher capacity parallel road about 800m away. He's taking the cycling path but it's essentially no further than he would have gone otherwise, and it's probably shorter than the route he would take in a car. (PS: both the parallel roads highlighted have wide, separated cycle paths.)

They're both taking more or less the best available cycling infrastructure that actually goes to the destination, not just taking whatever good cycling infrastructure is vaguely in the same postal code. He's not riding on Memorial and ignoring the pathway running parallel, he's decided to not take a route that meanders (and is a lovely recreational ride!) nowhere near where he wants to go. It's not like the Calgary guy is taking Macleod to go to Sandy Beach park, he's taking Macleod to go to... a business located on Macleod.

Fundamentally, the reason the Calgary guy is taking a route designed for cars is all of our routes are designed for cars.
This exactly. To further illustrate the point, I tried to find the most MacLeod Trail-like road in Amsterdam. This a major car-oriented road leading to a highway interchange and an industrial park on the outskirts of Amsterdam. Note the bicycle lane and sidewalk to the right. Remarkably, when they added the right-turn lane they shifted the bicycle lane over without reducing it's width or throwing a sign in the pathway. They even kept a consistent width of the green buffer. This really shouldn't be impressive - but by North American standards it's outstanding.

1630076565425.png


Second picture is an intersection on the same road. Note the lack of slip lanes, weird pinch points of a randomly changing width of path or sidewalk, and all sorts of curb ramps that a cyclist or pedestrian would have to contend with here.
1630076709863.png


This pathway quality, width and connectivity is superior to 99% of our pathway network and this is literally in the middle of nowhere industrial park. The paths are straight, wide, barrier free, separated from traffic and actually go to businesses and destinations - exactly how we plan arterial roads in Calgary but for bicycles. Super boring stuff and not an attractive bicycle ride, but will get you to where you want to go safely and efficiently.
 

Silence&Motion

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He didn't purposely chose this route, all the routes are like this.

I cycle everyday in Calgary and everyday I have to take routes designed for cars. There was no bias in the video. I lived in both Amsterdam and Calgary and it honestly gives a fair pictures of both cities. Actually many people were positively surprised by Calgary, they were expecting way worse from a North American Oil city where its freezing half of the year!

They're both taking more or less the best available cycling infrastructure that actually goes to the destination, not just taking whatever good cycling infrastructure is vaguely in the same postal code. He's not riding on Memorial and ignoring the pathway running parallel, he's decided to not take a route that meanders (and is a lovely recreational ride!) nowhere near where he wants to go. It's not like the Calgary guy is taking Macleod to go to Sandy Beach park, he's taking Macleod to go to... a business located on Macleod.

Fundamentally, the reason the Calgary guy is taking a route designed for cars is all of our routes are designed for cars.

I don't want to belabour the point because I fundamentally agree with all of the critiques of Calgary's cycling infrastructure. The only thing I want to dispute is the idea that the Calgary guy is taking the best available route. In fact, he claims that there's no alternative to Macleod. A simple Google Map query pulls up several alternatives that are actually shorter, make better use of the pathway system, and avoid Macleod.

bikes.png


Look, I hate Macleod as much as everyone else. If I was emperor for a year, I'd completely redesign Macleod north of Glenmore, reducing it from 7 to 4 lanes (2 lanes, if I was feeling extra ambitious). Cars on Macleod south of Glenmore can be diverted along the Glenmore to Deerfoot, Blackfoot, or Crowchild, leaving Macleod to be an urban boulevard. That would also allow us to convert Macleod and 1 st SE into two-way streets throughout downtown and the Beltline. In fact, Macleod could actually be pedestrianized between Olympic plaza and City Hall, creating a much larger, continuous civic plaza.
 

CBBarnett

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I don't want to belabour the point because I fundamentally agree with all of the critiques of Calgary's cycling infrastructure. The only thing I want to dispute is the idea that the Calgary guy is taking the best available route. In fact, he claims that there's no alternative to Macleod. A simple Google Map query pulls up several alternatives that are actually shorter, make better use of the pathway system, and avoid Macleod.

Look, I hate Macleod as much as everyone else. If I was emperor for a year, I'd completely redesign Macleod north of Glenmore, reducing it from 7 to 4 lanes (2 lanes, if I was feeling extra ambitious). Cars on Macleod south of Glenmore can be diverted along the Glenmore to Deerfoot, Blackfoot, or Crowchild, leaving Macleod to be an urban boulevard. That would also allow us to convert Macleod and 1 st SE into two-way streets throughout downtown and the Beltline. In fact, Macleod could actually be pedestrianized between Olympic plaza and City Hall, creating a much larger, continuous civic plaza.

What's even the point of nerdy development forum if we don't belabour things. Here's what happens when I force the route to stay on MacLeod:

1630079325658.png


So if the video cyclist had access to Amsterdam-style arterial bicycle network infrastructure along MacLeod, the trip would be 19% shorter (1.5km off of 8km) and save about 10 minutes each way. Also it would be significantly safer. I think we have invested in billion dollar highways with less trip improvement stats than that.

Does that mean that a MacLeod Trail path is a good idea and would be worth it compared to the hundreds of other pathway improvements we could make ? Who knows - but illustrates the point we don't accept weird detours, dangerous randomness, and 19% longer trips for vehicles very often but totally do for bicycles (and everyone else frankly).
 

Silence&Motion

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Does that mean that a MacLeod Trail path is a good idea and would be worth it compared to the hundreds of other pathway improvements we could make ? Who knows - but illustrates the point we don't accept weird detours, dangerous randomness, and 19% longer trips for vehicles very often but totally do for bicycles (and everyone else frankly).
The more I think about it, the more I think the "de-highway-fication" of MacLeod north of Glenmore would actually be hugely transformative for the city. You have a lot of important locations along that stretch, including a bunch of LRT stations. Chinook Mall. City Hall. Olympic Plaza. Arts Commons. Reader Rock Garden. The arena/Stampede grounds. The Barley Belt. It connects to Stephen Ave and 17 Ave.

The fact that Macleod is a car sewer has turned the entire stretch into a dump, but if you look at how it's actually positioned within the larger geography of the city, it might actually be Calgary's only chance at creating a real "main street" a la Yonge Street in Toronto, Broadway in NYC, or Michigan in Chicago.

Moreover, as mentioned, Glenmore, Deerfoot, Blackfoot, and Crowchild are all in place to redirect the bulk of car traffic that Macleod currently handles. All you'd need to do is redesign the Macleod/Glenmore intersection.
 

ByeByeBaby

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In service of continuing to belabor the point:

Here's the existing conditions in the corridor --- green are multiuse paths, yellow are cycle tracks, magenta are sidewalk/bike improvements (bike paths alongside sidewalks). There's no connectivity, the recreational paths are lovely but don't provide straight or efficient connectivity.
Macleod bike 00 current.jpg



Here's a few improvements -- new cycle tracks in orange, new multiuse paths in light blue, new sidewalk/path improvements in pink.
To start with, let's build that path along the LRT track (which connects well with both sets of sidewalk improvements on 42nd and 62nd aves), and add in cycle tracks to provide better connection to the residential area -- Elbow had an adaptive lane that worked well, 50th still has an adaptive lane. (EDIT: the adaptive lane on 50th is on the west side of the Elbow in Altadore. There's still a ton of room on 50th in this area for a cycle track.)
Macleod bike 02 Elbow ct.jpg


Next, let's provide better connections for north-south travel; Mission Road and Spiller Road allow better connections to and from the downtown, and 5th St is a good route for a cycle track in the residential area: 60th Ave also needs some improvements; it's adjacent to one of the densest residential areas outside the central city.

Macleod bike 035 more connections.jpg


And here's a fuller set of improvements that provide a good baseline of cycling access throughout the area. I'm not including anything past Blackfoot or Glenmore although there are obviously connections that should be made.
Macleod bike 09 everything.jpg
 

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