Photo: James D. Schwartz (flickr)
Cyclists in Calgary will be happy to hear that beginning next spring, they will get to cycle downtown on separated cycling lanes (the City of Calgary is calling them cycle tracks). The first phase of the new cycle tracks will be on 6th and 7th street SW between 8th Avenue and the river pathway system. Designs for the cycle tracks are not available yet but officials point to existing infrastructure in cities such as Montreal and Vancouver as their vision.
The city is debating whether to go with two separate cycle tracks: Northbound on 6th Street & Southbound on 7th Street or a two way cycle track that runs on 7th Street only. If the two-way cycle track doesn’t take up more than 1 lane I would say that is a better solution as it would only affect one of the streets.
The second phase of the downtown cycle track network would see the existing 10th Avenue bike lane converted to the separated variety. 8th Avenue would also see a new cycle track between 5th Street and 11th Street. A cycle track would along the 5th street underpass to connect the two.
Personally I think if we are going to add bike lanes of any sort that dedicated bike lanes are the way to go. In car-dominated Calgary, motorists simply don’t respect the painted bike lanes. I drive along 10th Avenue frequently and everyday you see vehicles driving on the bike lane. However, I don’t think it is a good decision to implement too many separated bike lanes if the demand for them is not there because there is definitely demand for more roads for motor vehicles. Fortunately the City of Calgary agrees as they are only launching phase 1 in 2013. Phase 2 is scheduled for 2014.