Calgary’s entire cycle track pilot project will open Thursday morning, nearly two weeks ahead of schedule.
Along with the early start, City of Calgary Director of Transportation Planning Don Mulligan said the project is also below their projected budget of $7.1 million, ending up at $5.75 million.
The 8th and 9th Avenue portions will open at 6 a.m., with vehicles and bicycles sharing Stephen Avenue in the evenings, but cyclists will be required to walk their bikes between 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. from July 1st to July 12th for Canada Day and Calgary Stampede.
As for the portions that are already open, Mulligan provided updated ridership.
“The average weekday number of bicycles is at 1,000 bike trips per day, we had estimated 800, four times what it was before, so we’re seeing five times the previous volume before cycle tracks on 12th Avenue,” he said.
As for 5th St. over the last two days, there’s been an average 1,500 cycling trips per day.
“That’s the highest number of cyclists we’ve ever seen on any road since we’ve been measuring,” he said.
Mulligan said it’s critical for cyclists to yield to pedestrians on Stephen Avenue, similar to traffic on the Peace Bridge with cyclists in the middle of the street and the pedestrians on the side.
Data regarding the effect on vehicle traffic for 5th St. is not yet available, but when it comes to 12th Avenue, it hasn’t been seriously affected.
“We have found that the average travel time increase in the morning is 90 seconds difference between before the cycle track went in to after,” he said. “In the afternoons, it’s 60 seconds, so between 60 and 90 seconds and that’s for the entire length.”
There have already been some line-marking changes on 12th Ave. and 5th St. and traffic ambassadors will be in place to help with any confusion from pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.
Mulligan said although ridership is up, it’s difficult to tell how many brand new cyclists there are, but there seems to be an increase anecdotally.
“From some young folks, from women and from older folks that for the first time ever they’re venturing into downtown,” he said. “This is not just about commuters, this is about changing the way people in the Beltline, in the inner-city and the whole city get around.”
He added another critical piece of information will be collisions between pedestrians and cyclists on Stephen Ave.
“That is our number one priority is safety and so it is the very first performance measure that will be measured,” he said.
Mulligan said there haven’t been too many concerns regarding parking issues and they will continue to monitor 311 where Calgarians can call in concerns.
“This is a pilot, we are constantly monitoring what’s going on, we want to hear from people about how it’s going, good, bad, however they perceive,” he said.