CALGARY (660 NEWS) — If proposed bylaw changes take effect, the city’s cycle tracks may get busier while safety will improve alongside that.
The Transit and Transportation Committee at City Hall voted in favour of recommending adjustments to the bylaw, including legalizing more forms of transportation on the tracks, changing some requirements for cyclists, and establishing a mandatory passing distance for cars.
First off, the committee voted in favour of allowing scooters, skateboards, roller skates and wheelchairs on the cycle tracks. Also, the new electric-assisted bikes we have been seeing around the city would be allowed to go on public transit.
Secondly, cyclists would be permitted to use either hand to signal a turn, allowed to yield when entering a sidewalk from a pathway — instead of stopping completely — and lock up bikes on city-owned bike racks.
Finally, there would be a mandatory passing distance of one metre for cars travelling up to 60 km/h, or 1.5 metres when driving at a faster speed.
Local advocates say this helps modernize a somewhat dated bylaw.
“Expanding it to accommodate new technology options and transportation, such as electric scooters and electric-assist bikes, it only makes sense that the city keep up with the technology options and provide users a safe place to go,” said Bike Calgary President Gary Millard. “That means that anybody that travels at that speed should feel safe using the cycling infrastructure. So we welcome anybody that can integrate into that flow of traffic.”
Ward Four Councillor Sean Chu — who has vocally opposed cycling infrastructure in many cases — says allowing the other modes of transportation makes sense.
“We have so many personal devices already using the cycle track anyway. Might as well make it legal to go ahead and do it,” said Chu.
Millard feels the adjustments for signalling, rolling stops in some situations, and improving signage should not be very controversial as it makes it easier to understand the rules and may make cycling more attractive for Calgarians.
“An acknowledgment within the City of Calgary that there are plenty of transportation options out there, and they are trying to make it easier for people who choose to cycle, choose to use scooters or skateboards, any of the transportation choices they would like.”
The potential for legalizing wheelchairs on the cycle tracks is also being met with optimism.
“It allows the option for people to utilize other access navigation routes through downtown, where maybe the sidewalk may not be fully accessible. It now gives them another space to navigate and commute through the city — especially in the downtown,” said Sean Crump, Head Chair of Universal Access.
As this may set the stage for a little more congestion on the cycle tracks themselves, there’s speculation that there will be increased calls to build more infrastructure.
“I asked the question if in the future is cycle track people going to say ‘oh, look now we have way more people using it, we have to expand the cycle track,'” said Chu. “You can quote me right now, I guarantee that’s exactly what’s going to happen.”
“One of the concerns around these bylaw changes will put more users on to the cycle tracks,” added Millard. “And our response to that one is, that’s great. It probably means that we need more cycle tracks.”
Some other proposed changes include allowing on-street parking adjacent to painted lanes and establishing back-in angle parking for cars in some areas.
City Council will discuss the recommended changes during a meeting in March.