The closure of the north side Bow River Pathway between 14th Street and 29th Street NW has caught many people off-guard and, due to the suddenness of the closure and the lack of clear detour signage, has caused understandable frustration.
Bike Calgary recognizes that the Bow River Pathway is arguably one of the most popular active travel and recreation corridors for Calgarians, particularly for Calgarians looking to travel efficiently and comfortably by bike between the northwest and downtown. People of all ages and all experience levels depend upon it to get them around safely. As such, we have been in communication with City staff, advocating for a detour that preserves and similar level of active mode connectivity as the pathway, that is easy to follow, safe and comfortable, and that provides equitable travel opportunities for all modes.
In relation to the closure, City staff provided Bike Calgary with the following map outlining the closures and suggested cycling and pedestrian detours for the mid-July to mid-October duration of the closure.
Above: Pathway closure and detour map provided by City of Calgary.
Based on the map, Bike Calgary had requested some clarifications on the detour and raised some with respect to its adequacy in effectively accommodating all ages and abilities of cyclist.
The purpose of this post is to update our members on the fact that this dialogue is occurring and on what we have been hearing from City Staff, so please read below.
As always, we encourage our members and the public to relay any concerns to both 3-1-1 and the area Councilor’s office. The entirety of this closure falls in Ward 7 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
We also encourage members to provide us their comments so we can better understand the impact of the closure.
**We ask our members to please note that this post was put together prior to the detour coming into effect, but we were unable to actually post it until today. Only minor edits have been made since the closure went into effect.**
Clarifications on Segments Identified as “Detour”
Bike Calgary has clarified that certain portions of the pathway (i.e. east of Crowchild Trail and west of 14th Street NW), indicated as detour, will remain opened for the purpose of providing river bank access only, not through-travel. City staff have agreed that signage should reflect that these are not through routes, though such signage was not observed during reconnaissance today. We will re-raise this issue with City staff.
Accommodating All Ages and Abilities
Bike Calgary has been advocating for a similar level of comfort, safety and ease of travel along the detours as to what Calgarians experience on the pathway. We base this on the need for the City to provide equitable travel opportunities for all modes and ensure user safety and clarity of roadway operation at points of interaction. We not only believe this is the appropriate thing to do, but we also believe it is consistent with City policy set out in the City of Calgary Temporary Traffic Control Manual.
Above: Some observations from the City of Calgary policies and reports.
In terms of safety, comfort and ease of travel, Bike Calgary has identified the following specific areas of concern to City staff;
Intersection of 29th Street and Memorial Drive NW (i.e. Bow River Pathway access/egress to 29th Street detour).
Intersection of 29th Street and 4th Avenue NW
Intersection 25th Street and Kensington Road NW
Intersection Kensington Road and Crowchild Trail NW
29th Street and Memorial Drive NW
For eastbound travel accessing 29th Street northbound, there is no pathway access to the intersection. Cyclists will either have to double back on the existing connection further east, which terminates at a narrow sidewalk leading to the pedestrian crosswalk across 29th Street, or ride across the grass to the intersection. Once at the intersection, there is no crossing guidance (signage or markings) to govern cyclist and motorist interaction in terms of right-of-way, which may lead to unpredictable behavior and negatively impact safety.
Above: Google Earth Image 29th Street & Memorial Drive NW.
Bike Calgary has suggested that the City provide a formal pathway connection, curb ramp and intersection controls (signs and signals) so that eastbound cyclists can conveniently access the intersection and move through safely and predictably north onto 29th Street, similar to 9th Street and Memorial Drive NW (near the Peace Bridge).
For 29th Street, between Memorial Drive and 4th Avenue, cyclists will be required to ride in mixed traffic, aside from a short segment of curbside bike lane southbound. Bike Calgary has identified that riding in mixed traffic does not match the level of comfort of the pathway. We know from the Cycling Strategy (2011) and other sources (i.e. UBC’s Cycling in Cities) that most people are uncomfortable riding in mixed traffic on busy streets, meaning many people that rely on the pathway could be excluded from using the detour, or will simply choose to ride on the sidewalks, to the detriment of pedestrian comfort.
Status: We are in ongoing talks with City staff to advocate for intersection improvements aimed at providing ease of access and operational clarity for all modes. Our understanding is that City staff are looking at possible solutions. The need for other bike-specific improvements along 29th Street NW has only been discussed.
29th Street and 4th Avenue NW
Bike Calgary has identified concerns with how westbound cyclists will make the left turn to cross this intersection to continue south to the pathway. We have suggested some type of mitigation be considered, including signage to heighten awareness of cyclists crossing at this location.
Status: City staff have agreed to consider signage options alerting people travelling along 29th Street to expect cyclists turning, but there are no plans for any crosswalk enhancements, should cyclists wish to dismount and cross as pedestrians, due to the proximity of the marked crosswalk at 5th Avenue.
25th Street and Kensington Road NW
The detour takes cyclists east to the pathway along Crowchild Trail and then south to Kensington Road. Given the narrow width of the pathway, the need to navigate the plaza and to cross two sides of the Kensington Road/Crowchild Trail intersection, we feel cyclists may favor 25th Street to travel between 1st Avenue and the new pathway along Kensington Road, being more direct and eliminating one side of the Kensington Road/Crowchild Trail intersection.
Above: Google Image 25th Street to Crowchild Trail along Kensington Road.
We have suggested the City look for ways to make sure it is easy and safe for cyclists to cross this intersection to travel between 25th Street and the pathway adjacent Kensington Road, again, potentially through signage to alert motorists that cyclists will be crossing.
Status: We are still in conversation with the City on this one.
Intersection Kensington Road and Crowchild Trail
Crowchild Trail is obviously a key artery for motor vehicle travel however, given the Bow River Pathway serves similarly for active travel, we have identified a need for the City to provide crossride guidance for cyclists and equitable signal timing for all users at this intersection.
Status: We do not have a response from the City on whether adjustments to signal timing will be made or whether crossride guidance will be provided to ensure all modes are interacting equitably and safely.
As the detour went into effect, we have become aware that signage is wholly inadequate in terms of providing guidance for cyclists to travel the detour easily and safely. This has been confirmed by our own reconnaissance.
We will make suggestions to the City on how to improve the signage.