I recently had an informative bicycle trip through parts of Ward 11 using the City’s network of pathways, trails and bikeways with members of Bike Calgary. We looked at some of the connection challenges for cyclists – not just those faced by bicycle commuters, but also spots that would be frequented by families out for recreational bike rides as well as children cycling to school. While some of the problem spots we saw would simply create inconvenience or confusion for cyclists, other areas were quite dangerous to navigate, despite being a part of the City’s bike network.
Here are some of the highlights:
This connection from the reservoir pathway to Bayview (and beyond) has a pole at the end of the connection at the road. There is also a hedge that greatly obstructs the width of the pathway and visibility. The curb cut is challenging and it is impossible, if travelling south, to see if cars are coming along the roadway.
The ‘infamous’ fence at St. Benedict School beside Southland Leisure Centre. The paved path still exists but a fence has gone up across it. If you are familiar with the bicycle network, you know that there is a small off-shoot (pictured) off the pathway that runs west and pushes users into the often very busy Southland Leisure Centre parking lot. If you aren’t familiar with the route and were riding in reduced visibility conditions, the fence may not be obvious and could lead to accidents.
The portion of the bicycle network at 5 Street and 58 Avenue SW by Chinook Mall takes riders going north from a bike path to a sidewalk, with no real exit point to guide riders onto the east side of 5 Street. This area will become a pinch point with much larger volumes when the pathway over the Glenmore Reservoir dam closes this Fall for a three year construction project.
The pedestrian crossing from Southwood at Anderson Station is not the most user friendly in terms of slope and connections on the east side of the station, over Macleod Trail. However these issues should be addressed with future Transit Oriented Development (TOD) slated for this site.
These well-known busy pathway connectors in Eagle Ridge feature poles in the middle and blind entry onto a roadway with no sidewalks. Improvements to visibility would do a lot here to make things safer for cyclists, pedestrians and vehicles to co-exist. This is a busy area with pedestrians, bikes and cars – we need to make sure the route is safe for all.
This entry into a Southwood cul-de-sac where the route switches from the pathway to the roadway is blocked by parked vehicles. There is no designated area for cyclists to exit onto the road, so cyclists are forced to stay on the sidewalk or dismount and walk through parked cars. A small reserved no parking area (painted on the roadway) would easily solve the problem.
The bicycle network in Ward 11, particularly in the portion south of Glenmore, is primarily on roadways. Many of these roadways are quieter streets (excluding rush hour) but none with any painted separation. This presents challenges especially for families and children out for bike rides recreationally or to local schools. Many parents and children don’t feel safe on the bicycle network because of this. In some communities, inconsistent or nonexistent sidewalks also make it difficult for children to ride safely off the roadways, something that many parents are concerned with.
I appreciated the opportunity to go on this tour – Ward 11 is a beautiful area, with lots of great sights to see via bike or on foot. The route we took was generally a pretty easy one – but despite that there were a number of problem spots. Many of these issues could have been prevented with better planning between city departments over the years. In terms of addressing the issues, each comes with its own price tag and solution – something worth looking at either as independent projects, or in conjunction with planned updates/construction to road and bicycle networks going forward.