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Downtown cycle track approaching one year anniversary; project manager explains past 12 months

The one year anniversary of Calgary’s downtown cycle track is nearly upon us, but we’re going to have to wait to find out if it will become a permanent fixture.

City council won’t be discussing its future until December.

Interest has spiked of late, though.

The city’s active transportation projects coordinator told 660 NEWS that usage hit a record last month.

Tom Thivener said that they will continue to make improvements.

“We’re making adjustments to put back more parking or loading, timing changes to the signals because we’re trying to make them flow as good as possible,” Thivener explained. “Realizing if you adjust one corridor, you affect other the other corridors. So, it’s all within reason what we can do along the corridors.”

Thivener also added that it’s hard to know if it’s been a positive or a negative experience.

“We’re looking at it from the city very objectively. We want to know if it’s working well, is it safe, are people using it?” Thivener wondered. “Council has given us a number of things to monitor; how many people are using it, is it safe, are people getting off the sidewalk, are we seeing kids ride, are we seeing women ride?”

He also said the attitude around the cycle track seems to be changing.

“Car traffic numbers are starting to fall down and more people than ever are looking for alternatives, so it’s proof once you have decent transit options, people will take that,” Thivener explained. “Adding the bike component is really no different and for the people coming into the downtown that live three to seven kilometres away, it’s really a practical, feasible way to get around now.”

He also said education continues for people that commute in or around the track.

“From a cyclists point of view, we’re really trying to get them to avoid riding the wrong way in the cycle track,” Thivener said. “We’re looking to curb that behaviour.”

“From a motorists point of view, we have a number of intersections where the motorists pull up and where they used to have a ‘left on red’ option, that there’s now signage saying that’s illegal. It’s for the safety of the cyclists coming upon them. We don’t want motorists making a left when they shouldn’t be.”

In terms of a recent report saying the Calgary Downtown Association isn’t convinced this is the best program, Thivener addressed the parking issue.

“It’s really the ground floor business we’ve heard the most from, so in a couple of spots, we did have to remove parking initially with the first design of the cycle track,” Thivener defended. “That was really to have adequate lane widths for the moving cars and the cyclists. We did go back at a couple of locations and we shrunk those lanes so that we could get parking back on one side in front of the business.

“We haven’t heard back from those businesses, so we think they’re pretty satisfied with the way that went.”