The final phase of public engagement is now open for the Kensington Area Improvements project located in the northwest communities of West Hillhurst and Hillhurst/Sunnyside. Check out the design concepts and fill out your feedback here:
Active transportation users will be particularly interested in the first three projects on the website:
19 Street NW between 5 Avenue and Kensington Road NW: Separated on-street wheeling lanes on each side of the roadway, which also provides better separation for sidewalk users from the roadway lanes. The improvements include raised islands and curb extensions to shorten the crossing distance for pedestrians and to improve their visibility to drivers. This project would provide better access to the growing “main street” section of 19 Street.
2 Avenue NW between 5A Street and 9A Street NW: Separated on-street wheeling lanes on each side of the roadway, which also provide better separation for sidewalk users from roadway lanes. The improvements include raised islands and curb extensions to shorten the crossing distance for pedestrians and to improve their visibility to drivers. This project would help calm traffic on an important neighbourhood link and link up with other projects like the Bow to Bluff corridor and the Sunnyside LRT station.
3 Avenue NW between 10 Street and 9A Street NW: Sidewalk reconstruction and reallocation of road space to improve pedestrian crossings and separation from vehicle traffic. This block connects the 10 Ave main street to the Sunnyside LRT station and also provides pedestrian connection to the neighbourhood grocery store.
In reviewing the project concepts, Bike Calgary noted a concerning area on the 19 Street project where the wheeling lane ends and a ramp is shown onto the sidewalk space. It appears that people using the wheeling lane would need to either merge into the vehicle lane through this intersection, or ride onto the sidewalk. See below from the 19 Street concepts:
This design would not achieve several of the City’s 5A network principles:
a) Separate people by their speed: The design concept forces active mobility users of different speeds to share a sidewalk, or have wheeling lane users share a narrow traffic lane with motor vehicles. Only confident riders will be able to safely merge into traffic in an area that is also complicated by a bus stop.
b) Be accessible for everyone: Riding on the sidewalk is not permitted in Calgary (excepted if under the age of 14) but for some users, mobility challenges make it very difficult to dismount and walk their bicycle or similar mobility device. This design concept asks users to make a choice between breaking the law or risking their safety.
c) Make it easy to use: Cities that are successful in encouraging alternative forms of transportation must make walking and wheeling a pleasant, consistent experience. This design concept is not predictable for new and inexperienced users, and it would be inconvenient for more experienced riders.
This section is noted as Design Under Review, so your feedback is important on this portion of the project. We recognize that there are likely some design constraints with the existing conditions and the bus stop, but more needs to be done at this location to properly accommodate people walking and wheeling.
A second consideration from reviewing the concepts is the design detail where the wheeling lane jogs in and out at intersections. These jogs can be a pinch point for users of larger wheeling modes (recumbent bicycles, hand cycles, bike trailers/chariots, etc.)
The pre-cast concrete barriers used in this type of wheeling lane are also quite often bumped by motor vehicles and snow plows, further narrowing the space. Here’s an example from 4 Street SE in East Village where a narrow corner is difficult to navigate on a larger bike.
If they are implemented thoughtfully and with the user in mind, these projects could be a great addition to the connectivity and livability of the West Hillhurst and Hillhurst / Sunnyside communities. We encourage you to take a few minutes to provide your feedback in the project website.