No Show For Bow River Flow

Posted by: Kenny Chan onAugust 25th, 2009
Re-elect me! We'll needlessly close roads again next year!

Re-elect me! We'll needlessly close roads again next year!

The organizers may have named it the Bow River Flow, but this event made traffic do anything but flow on Memorial Drive on the weekend. It was back in April when we first wrote about Ald. Druh Farrell’s idea to completely close the eastbound lanes on a section of Memorial Drive. At the time, the plan was to have the closures occur on every sunday during the month of August. When Calgarians spoke out against this idea, City Hall decided to allow it to be closed on a single Sunday, which was this past weekend. Calgarians tried to send the message to City Hall, and Ald. Druh Farrell but their reasoning fell upon deaf ears.

The idea was to have two lanes closed so Calgarians could go down and ride their bikes, or rollerblade their way down the roadway. Others could enjoy a nice walk on the road, or even practice some tai chi on the road. Critics of the plan said that Calgary already boasts one of the largest pathway systems in North America. There are pathways on both sides of the Bow River, and on the south shore there is a large greenspace that is perfect for hosting festivals like this. Organizers of the Bow River Flow, by virtues of their actions this weekend seemed to agree that the pathways are quite excellent as they setup the festival tents along the existing pathways!

Organizers expected about 10,000 people to attend the event, but estimates show the number was closer to 1,500–the majority of which walked along the existing bike paths adjacent to Memorial Drive. People were also discouraged to congregate on the roadway due to safety concerns about them being hit by cyclists or rollerbladers. The truth is, the only danger on the roadway were people tripping over the pylons that were setup. For most of the day there were more pylons on the road than people. In fact, there were more members of the media there than people on the road.

Supporters of the event ask why there is such a strong opposition to the roadway being closed. They argue that roads are closed each year for the Stampede Parade, the Lilac Festival, and Marda Gras to name a few. The key difference is that for each of these events, the roadways are closed for a reason. The Stampede Parade route runs on the actual roads that are closed. The festival tents are setup right on 4th street for the Lilac Festival, not on the side streets. The same goes for Marda Gras, tents are setup along the road and pedestrians walk along the closed street. For the Bow River Flop–err… Flow, two lanes of Memorial Drive were closed while festival tents were setup on the bike paths. The closure of Memorial Drive was unnecessary plain and simple. I would be just as peeved if they closed Northbound Macleod Trail during the Calgary Stampede while everyone is on the grounds.

This year’s Bow River Flow was a trial run and Ald. Druh Farrell must have accepted that the idea was bad. So, lesson learned right? Yeah, no thats not how we roll in Calgary. The event was a big bag of fail as I said on twitter, and our dear old Druh is talking about EXPANDING the event. I’m at a loss for words, so this will have to suffice.

Fun Fact:
Ald. Druh Farrell voted AGAINST saving Race City. Remember that during the next election folks.

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  1. Chris says:

    I wonder how long it will take for Druh to proclaim the event a complete success? Sorry Druh, but I think you have angered enough Calgarians with your shenanigans that you will be joining alot of people in the unemployment lines. I for one will be looking to vote for whoever has the best chance of beating you. Stubborness is not a good virtue.

  2. sc says:

    car enthusiasts may deem the event a failure – pretty easy to do if you didnt attend, or just sat idling in your car on the westbound lanes of memorial (no sympathy here – the event was well publisized, so if you were stuck in traffic its your own fault).

    in reality, most in attendance at the flow felt that the event was a success and there is a good chance it will be expanded next year. i know carheads will hate this, that is a natural response when your precious roads are taken back by bikes and peds.

    what is important to remember is that people are traffic too! accept it. watch for the road closures in the future, plan your route around the closure and quit bitching. there are numerous east/west routes across the city. if you cant find your way to one of them, you should probably park your car because you are not smart enough to be driving safely.

    cars have had their time. that time is coming to an end. people are tired of being marginalized and terrorized by cars and their negative impact on the environment (both built and natural).

  3. pink robe says:

    I have to agree with sc – if you got stuck in traffic along Memorial on Sunday, it’s your own fault. One of the most publicized community events in recent memory, and you can’t figure out how to go through downtown or take 16 Ave.? Come on man, break out the nav and find a way around…

  4. mercator says:

    What a lame article – more bitching from a grumpy ‘car enthusiast’.

  5. Kenny Chan says:

    What was the point in closing down Memorial really? Why not hold the event on the pathways, maybe by Eau Claire? theres lots of room on that side of the river. I would support the event if they closed the road and setup booths along the side of the road so pedestrians and cyclists could go along and check out the different displays. I would also support extending the closure all the way to the Center St. bridge if the road was actually utilized.

  6. stephen says:

    I biked from Riverbend to the Foothills hospital following the Bow River pathway on Sunday and I have to say I wasn’t all that impressed with this attempt. When I got to this section of Memorial I remembered hearing about this event on the news and was guessing that was why the road was closed but wasn’t sure if that was the sunday it was happening. I continued to bike on the pathway (which was the busiest strech of the whole ride) becasue there was nothing indicating it was ok for me to be on the road. I biked the entire strecth and did not see a single person on the road. The fact is the section of road they close is too short to help out with saving time while biking or even rollerblading and most of that section of pathways has a bike path and a ped path anyway. From a bikers point of view, if they want to close a lane they should close it all the way from the zoo to crowchild or something so it is at least a usable length to be able to avoid pedestrians and get a good bike in.

  7. midtoad says:

    I was in a booth at this event for 6 hours, and I saw lots and lots of people on the road.

    Motorists that passed this location had exactly the same number of lanes at their disposal as inbound traffic has every day at rush hour – one, so I don’t see what the complaint is. At least they could still use half the road, unlike during the marathon when the entire road was closed for hours.

    As for not setting up booths beside the road, the organizers were apparently told explicitly by someone that they couldn’t do that. yes, that will be looked at for next year.

  8. A.Cyclist says:

    SC? People are traffic too? No shit sherlock.

    However, even at the event, the existing pathways were more than enough to hold the flow of people.
    Tents could have been set up on the grass and the road could have remained open without inhibiting the flow of pedestrians, cyclists, or vehicular traffic.

    All this this did was tick off people using the road – including cyclists (you know cyclists right? – true non motorized commuters?) Many of us ride on memorial drive through that section because of the stupid pathway speed limit – which still applied on the blocked off roadway – and the over abundance of tree hugging dog walkers that use the pathway there. The increased vehicle density actually made passage dangerous.

    The closure was a stupid idea.

  9. Syritis says:

    on the news monday evening the organizers agreed was a success and yet they still admitted it was unnecessary for the road to be closed. the tents didn’t prevent anyone for walking on the paths.
    Yes i am a car guy, i avoided memorial like the plague but i still have sympathy for the people on memorial. it is one of the major routes east or west. 16th ave, has more lights then memorial and is still under construction. john laurie/mcknight if a decent road still much further north. the country hills. way outta the way AND under construction. as for city transit, that’s just a lost cause
    point is that unless city council gets they’re heads out from they’re bum cheeks and ACTUALLY listen to the people they represent they sity will continue to just get worse and worse.

    P.S. i’m absolutely sure there were more pissed off people driving on memorial then people who actually gave a crap about the event.

  10. Chris says:

    Oh please, pedestrians are taking back the roads? HAHAHA SC, are you a complete and utter moron? the roads were NEVER built with the intention that hippies were going to have a “festival” on it. I think it was quite aptly proven that the pathway system beside the road could handle your “festival” just fine. I have also yet to hear from one of the “supporters” why they have chosen to close down a MAJOR artery when right across the way is eau Clare market, which was specifially designed for such activites? why not put that area to use? You want Calgary to become like a few other cities in the states? I think you should just move there, or better yet, move the “festival” off the the main road, and into one of the side streets.

    You claim that the vehicles are the ones causing the pollution, yet you create such a traffic jam with your “festival” that you actually created MORE greenhouse gasses. Where is the logic in that? And I would love to “break out the NAV and find a way around” but tell me what east west route will get me across town faster?

    And you are right, people are traffic too, and that is why there is an extensive pathway system in calgary for the pedestrian traffic to use. What is wrong with that? why not use what was SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED FOR PEDESTRIAN TRAFFIC?

  11. […] are fast becoming a contentious issue with environmental campaigners. They are beginning to be attacked for their carbon emissions and whoever doesn’t own a Prius doesn’t care about the health of the planet, so on and so […]

  12. CE says:

    Wow, one sunday for a few hours a road was down a few lanes.. oh the humanity, if that’s the biggest issue in this city things must be going ok.

  13. John says:

    I think SC is Druh Farrell…

  14. Eric says:

    I have only one thing to say: Can’t wait for the next election.

  15. Josh says:

    Druh Farrell is the most useless wasteful contribution of tax payers dollars this city has ever encountered. She boasts about closing down one of calgaries main roadways to let people walk about on the road since they dont seem to have enough parks and open field to do so then actually goes ahead with it and fails miserably. Calgary doesnt need roads closed for people to walk on we have enough roads closed due to construction / accidents and the poor infrastructure of this city. She is against race city, voted yes to put a useless bridge up and continues to piss off half of calgary with her lame useless ideas. I for one will definatley not be voting this loonie bin into office and I pray Calgarians have enough common sense to cause a losing land slide for this waste of tax payers money.

  16. Mandy says:

    Okay how about every Day during rush hour we can close down the paths and let cars drive on them. Roads were designed for Cars, paths were designed for Pedestrians makes sense too me too bad it doesnt for the morons we have in City Hall and as for SC get a clue before you start bantering on about your nonsense just wait till election time thats all I have too say I love all the tree huggers and love pointing out their inconsistencies because we all know if everyone became true enviromentalists and tree huggers wed all be living in the F*c*king Stone Age.

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