Bike lane on busy street put on back burner - 660 CITYNEWS
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Bike lane on busy street put on back burner

Council has delayed a decision to put a bike track on 1st Street SE, cutting four lanes of traffic into the core down to three.

The decision came yesterday after the lane was voted down by four councillors (Keating, Demong, Sutherland and Magliocca) Wednesday at a Transportation Committee meeting.

It was supposed to be 1.7 kilometres long and it would have stretched from Riverfront Avenue to the Talisman Centre.

After hearing hours of appeals and criticism, the 8 member panel voted to put off the project until April when council has had a chance to decide on a full network of downtown-area bike lanes in the core.

Traffic congestion and the cost were two big concerns for committee chair Shane Keating.

City planners told the committee this bike track would have increased traffic in the area another 30 seconds to a full minute.

“That’s the issue, if you multiply that by tens of thousands, a lot of people are slowed down for the sake of a few,” he says.

The Ward 12 Councillor tells 660News he just wasn’t convinced.

“And that’s really what I was looking for,” he says. “Convince me on why you would like to take a lane away from a road that has thousands of cars a day to put as they said, 1,100 cyclists on it.”

Bike Calgary however feels that number’s a bit conservative and says the numbers are misleading.

President Kimberly Nelson says city staff came up with that number from monitoring the lesser used 7th Street lane and anticipates at least 2,000 would make use of the track.

“When they reconfigure the traffic lights, they will actually have a faster traffic flow for vehicles in the morning,” she says. “Between Beltline users, Ramsay which is becoming less and less car oriented and Inglewood, all of the connections are there,” says Nelson.

It would have been a direct route, providing cyclists with 14 blocks of access including the Epcor Centre for the Arts and the Stampede Grounds.

Some are also questioning the cost after original estimates put the price tag at 2.8 Million dollars, it’s now 3.7 Million.

Advocates say the bike lane is sorely needed given there is no room left to build any new roads and given the influx of businesses and condos, congestion is about to get a lot worse.

Four councillors voted for the plan (Carra, Pincott, Wooley and Farrell).

“Bikes are not the problem, this is hopefully going to be one small part towards relieving the congestion,” Nelson explains.