This is why a 5A Network Phase 1 plan works

There’s a plan, but how will it be implemented and over what time? Well there’s a way…………

#sharedstreets was born through the allocated lanes provided by the city to enable pathway users in certain areas to socially distance during the initial pandemic. They were placed, in some locations, in exactly the right place to bridge missing infrastructure and to cater for the increase in mobility traffic. While we advocated for these to remain while there was a collaborative review, the City publicized the MDP and CTP plans, the #sharedstreets underlying elements were clearly aligned with this plan and it was adopted as the right way forward.

The issue is when and how this plan is achieved? In other words a plan for the plan (otherwise how would we ever do it and more to the point, when?).

Firstly a reminder why it’s needed;

Mobility users of some of the main routes (where monitored) into the city exceeded 45,000 a day during the peak. The city noted that over 60% of cyclists used the allocated lanes as opposed to 33% of pedestrians. We don’t believe the City has collected the uses on the allocated roads as there were no visible data collective devices seen. Scooter traffic hit an average of 2,300 a day and burst the 1million rides mark in its first two years. But all of this missed decentralized communities and serviced mainly our downtown area.

We have a significant number of people owning bikes. Between 1996 and 2018, the number of cyclists in Calgary’s business district increased by 252% alone. Although there is no city data for 2019, in 2020 we know the increase in bike usage went up by 469%. People will want to use their bikes, and if using the pathway systems, they have to be shared with walkers, scooter riders, joggers etc. Over 200,000 Calgarians are regular riders and around 400,000 are occasional riders. The lack of connectivity push users onto roads or pathways not designed for such mobility.

The route to Livingstone, taking the good will of drivers in helping cross a slipway access to Stoney and main route North

Can you believe we have whole communities which are disconnected from mobility pathways, because it passes jurisdiction or classification, yet we cite our 1000kms of pathway as being an enormous amount. Users in some instances have to cross 4 lane highways with no crossing points, lanes just end and just 100m along, start again.

Yellow highlights show where Phase 1 could be implemented

So what does this mean?

Well as a city we have a great plan in the 5A Network Map. But to implement it is the challenge. It needs to be prioritized and funded.

We have new uses for our mobility infrastructure not contemplated when the system was designed 20 years ago.

Change is here….but are we resisting it?

E-bikes are now becoming a viable affordable option to not having a car. Flattening hills and carrying cargo, and even a worldwide courier is trialing them!

Short commutes by bike or other wheeled modes are actually the quickest method of making the journey. Our mobility pathway systems struggled to safety cope with the volume and we have numerous locations that funnel users together, travelling at different speeds when only yards before they were segregated. This is because the systems design has been upgraded on an individual project by project basis. We build huge wide roads with no volume of traffic, and in some instances there are no sidewalks or to cross it involves at least two “pork chop” islands and waiting for a number of light changes.

The beautiful Greenway path just ends. At least there’s a bollard to help further impede the journey!

We have some of the most scenic mobility pathway systems that just end, for lots of reasons that don’t make sense, dropping people out onto busy highways with no crossing points. We have disconnected communities as they cross provincial land or are “future” works, even pedestrians are unable to use them. We have some stunning outdoor spaces and amenities that can only be safely accessed by car, and an opportunity to connect them. Phase 1 of the 5A Network can achieve a lot of that.

Crossing Deerfoot. Just about as wide as handlebars!

We have Provincially owned crossings that are barely suitable for a single person to walk across! In fact try crossing Stoney or Deerfoot by walking or riding. No as easy as you may think, especially in the North!

Federal funding is available to help Calgary make that first step. Using our existing infrastructure funding, so we don’t have to impact the City’s budget, we can deliver critical elements of this plan. All we need is funding allocation. This design of Phase 1 in principle is complete. There are many groups like Bike Calgary that can help make this happen and make this affordable within budget. We’ve already identified areas and locations where short additions can make a huge difference. They will allow safe mobility for kids to avoid being taken in the car, to allow communities to have affordable modes of transport to the existing infrastructure and to make this connected to the Green line BRT and LRT.

This is not just painted lines or postings, this is real safe segregation which brings benefits to the communities they link. Some of the benefits we see are:

  • Provide universal access to infrastructure by completing small gaps.
  • Jobs for Calgarians in the construction works implemented through this, as early as next year.
  • Connect communities where the plans for this are upstream in the budget. Consider adding this to future developer requirements.
  • Provide children with mobility options for their commute to school.
  • Communities would have affordable safe options for mobility outside the use of a car.
  • Safe accessibility to our parks and spaces.
  • Show investors in Calgary that progressive transition in carbon-neutral modes of transport are being deployed, attracting new businesses.
  • Start to impact our goal of reducing our carbon footprint. 
  • Connectivity to existing public transport.
  • Readiness connections for the Greenline LRT/BRT.
  • Make downtown accessible both to and from the suburbs.
  • Enable Calgarians to navigate our outdoor spaces.

Why would we not begin to build this now?

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