When the Cycling Strategy was discussed the last time in City Council in February, the focus was on a public bike share system (à la Bixi). At the time, the Transportation Department was asked to come up with a business model and implementation plan for such a system by October of this year, together with an update on the Cycling Strategy and an explicit plan for bicycle facilities in the Centre City, where the bike share program would be operating mainly, at least at first. The concern among councillors was that solid cycling infrastructure should be in place especially in the downtown core before a bike share program could be rolled out--Bike Calgary and our partner organizations in the Bike Calgary Advocacy Committee shared this concern.
The bike share business model report and update on the Cycling Strategy is scheduled to be presented to the Standing Policy Committee on Transportation and Transit next Wednesday, October 10. Information related to the above two topics is now posted: go to the Agenda and then click on agenda item 3.4.
This will be a public meeting and members of the public can provide input on the report and plans. If you are so inclined, show up on Wednesday and voice your support. You can also follow the discussion on live video (link will be posted on the agenda page).
Here are the highlights (Attachment 1):
- 26 of 50 Cycling Strategy action items are currently underway. Two are complete and more are set to start in 2013.
- 15 km of new marked bikeways have been constructed since 2011. A map is contained in Attachment 2. These include the West LRT bicycle improvements (separate map) as well as projects such as 10 St NW, Charleswood Dr, Northland Dr, 40 Ave NW, 9 Ave SE.
- A new bicycle coordinator has been hired.
- Applicants for a new Bicycle Engineer withing Transportation and Planning are currently under review.
- Progress towards developing a network of physically separated bikeways, i.e. "cycle tracks," with the first slated for the Centre City in 2013.
The plan for cycle tracks in the Centre City is of course the most exciting aspect. Currently, the City is envisaging to implement physically separated cycle tracks in three phases inand near the downtown: Phase 1 would include cycle tracks along 6 and 7 St (painted lanes were planned to be installed this year, but are being postponed in favor of physically separated lanes to be installed early 2013). Phase 2, planned for early 2014, will include dedicated cycle tracks through the 5 St underpass to connect to new cycle tracks along 8 Ave, as well as along 10 Ave. Routes for Phase 3 are yet to be determined. There will likely be other improvements (paint, signage) elsewhere in the downtown as well, but these are the planned physically separated routes.
For Public Bike Share, two models are put forth for consideration (Attachment 5):
- "Administrative non-profit" - A non-profit is formed or engaged to create the program and own the system. A private contractor is hired to launch and operate the program.
- "Privately owned and operated" - The operator is responsible for providing all funding for the system, which eliminates the requirement for external funding.
The recommendation is to conduct a request for proposal process to determine whether an established not-for-profit or a private enterprise is willing to assume the risk. As per the direction of Council, no City funds would be used for starting or operating the bike share system.
Background facts: Between 1 and 2% of daily commuters (4,000-8,000 people) use their bicycle daily, year round, and 6% of adult Calgarians (44,000) use their bicycle regularly for transportation. 59% of adult Calgarians would ride bicycles more often if there were safe facilities. The City of Calgary still lags behind other major Canadian and international centers in terms of on-street facilities for cyclists. Out of 15,000 lane kilometres of roads in Calgary, there are only 27 lane km (i.e., less than 0.2% of the total) of dedicated bike lanes, almost all of that are paint-only bike lanes, and some are shared with busses or only in force during rush hour. The downtown core has no dedicated bike lanes at all, despite 5% of downtown commuter street traffic already being bicycles. The City spends about 0.5% of its transportation budget annually on cycling. Only about 0.1% of Transportation Department staff work on the cycling portfolio. Transportation expenses including roads are mainly paid from general taxes which Calgarians who ride bicycles pay like everyone else. Only 30% of transportation infrastructure cost is covered by gas and fuel taxes: cyclists subsidize Calgary's roads and public transit system.
UPDATE: This is on the agenda for the November 5 City Council meeting. Proposed motions passed, with the exception of the terms of reference for the public bike share, which was thought to be premature by some councillors. The Transportation Department will present a cycle track network for the Centre City to the Standing Policy Committee on Transportation and Transit by December 2013.