Calgary bike group wants city to keep temporary cycle and pedestrian lanes open

CALGARY — Bike Calgary is urging the city to consider keeping temporary lane closures in place along popular walking and cycling routes to allow physical distancing through the winter.

“The adaptive roadways have been very popular because they’ve created extra space for people that have wanted to get out for recreation or active transport to run errands during the pandemic. It allows them to create physical distancing from other people using the pathways,” said Gary Millard, President, Bike Calgary, a group dedicated to improving cycling in Calgary.

Millard said some of the lanes are widely used and should remain in place. He said more and more cyclists ride their bikes year round.

“Bike Calgary would like the city to take a look at what adaptive roadways, what lanes are being used, why they’re being used and consider what’s a permanent solution that we could put in here. Is this the space that we should be putting into cycle track, should we be putting in more pathways adjacent and coming up with a permanent solution,” said Millard.

According to the city’s website, “In preparation of winter, The City will be removing most of the lane closures put in place to accomodate physical distancing along popular walking and cycling routes. This will occur on Tuesday, October 13, 2020.”

That means numerous city streets that have been taken over by strollers, cyclists, skateboarders, pedestrians and scooter riders will now be returned to cars, trucks, taxis and SUVs.

The following lanes will be reopened to traffic Tuesday:

* Stephen Avenue (8th Avenue S.W.) from 3 Street to 1 Street S.E.

* 12 Avenue S.E. from Olympic Way to McDonald Avenue S.E.

* 8 Street S.W. from 12 Avenue S.W. to 17 Avenue S.W.

* 11 Street S.W. from 12 Avenue S.W. to 17 Avenue S.W.

* 50 Avenue S.W. from 19 Street S.W. to 14A Street S.W.

* Crowchild Trail S.W. from the North Glenmore Parking Lot A to 66 Avenue S.W.

* Elbow Drive S.W. from 38 Avenue S.W. to 4 Street S.W.

* 4 Street S.W. from 26 Avenue and Roxboro RD SW/Rideau RD S.W. (Mission Bridge)

* Memorial Drive from 9 Street W to the Centre Street Lower Deck

The lone exception will be lane closures put in place to allow restaurant patios. Those will remain in place until two centimetres or more of snow is forecast in Calgary.

In the spring, city administration will bring a report to city council on the adaptable roadways program, which will include usage data for the temporary lanes.

“Those adaptive lanes really did an amazing job and they also sort of were at the front end of an international trend that we’re seeing and so I’m very proud of Calgary,” said Ward 9 Councillor Gian-Carlo Carra.

“I’m not a fan of the fact that we have to close them. I think that people are still active through the winter in Calgary, but the reality is that we don’t budget for snow and ice control like other cities do,” said Carra.

Carra said during the lockdown when there were fewer vehicles on the road, it was easier to open up large sections of roadways for active users. He said intersection safety, with traffic management at intersections is the challenge.

Carra said he understands administration needs time to determine if adaptive lanes can become permanent, but he said there is one lane not on the current list of closures that must stay open. It’s located on 11 and 12 Streets S.E. near the Zoo bridge south to 21 Avenue in the Southeast.

“Administration has agreed they’re not going to close it yet, but we’re having a real conversation about whether we can keep it open all winter and I told them if they’re going to remove pylons, I’m going to be chaining myself to pylons,” said Carra.

Carra said until there is a permanent solution this is the only connection between two inner-city neighbourhoods, because of recent closures to pedestrian connections.

“This street now is our only pedestrian and bicycle connection into Inglewood,” said Erin Joslin, Vice President External, Ramsay Community Association.

Joslin, who has lived in the the area for over a decade said she hopes the city considers keeping the adaptive lane.

“Imagine riding a bicycle and connecting with another bicycle or a mom and dad with a stroller trying to come under the underpass, its too much of a pinch point the extra space gives us some breathing room to pass properly and social distance too,” said Joslin.

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