The City has been developing a public realm plan to improve the 8 St SW corridor between the Bow river and 17 Ave SW. Bike Calgary has particiated in a number of engagement and visioning sessions. A public open house was held in March and a final proposal will be presented soon. Throughout the process, it has been clear that the plan will give first priority to pedestrians, as it should, but support for considering the needs of cyclists has been high as well. The current plan, however, will make things worse, not better, for cyclists, between 17 Ave and the train underpass. It calls for a single travel lane in each direction, an additional transit-only lane going south, and widening the sidewalks by about 4 m (the width of the removed lane). This will make 8 St SW dangerous and inconvenient, especially for cyclists going north towards downtown.
Bike Calgary sent a letter outlining our concerns to the project team. You can read the full letter here. The concerns include:
Conflicts will be exacerbated where motorists must wait behind slow moving cyclists, as opposed to moving into the adjacent lane to pass under the current configuration.
Cyclists riding close to the curb will be endangered where motorists attempt to squeeze past in the proposed single lane, potentially pushing them into the curbside danger zone.
Motorists, crossing the centre line in an attempt to pass cyclists will place oncoming motorists and cyclists in danger.
- Incidence of sidewalk riding will almost certainly increase as cyclists, uncomfortable riding in heavy traffic, switch to riding on the new wider sidewalks, thus endangering pedestrians and them.
If you share our concerns, you should write to the project team via 3-1-1ContactUs@calgary.ca with a copy to the Ward 8 alderman, John Mar, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
North of the train tracks, 7 St will provide an excellent alternative route through the downtown core. The underpass itself is very constrained, and in particular, can't accommodate a cycle track because it is a primary fire route (a fire station is located closeby on 10 Ave). However, current plans call for shared bus/bike lanes in each direction through the underpass.