Readers comments re: Need to learn to share the road & sidewalks!

By Richard White, February 21, 2014 

Over the past week I have received numerous comments to my blog “Drivers, cyclists and pedestrians needing to learn to share.” Some thought I was advocating that “bike lanes area a bad idea,” which I didn’t intend to do; rather I just wanted to point out that perhaps we should experiment with some of the ideas before we invest in the most expensive option - separate bike lanes. I also wanted to point out that we should experiment with seasonal bike traffic on Stephen Avenue as a means of adding more vitality to the area in off peak hours.

Here are five comments that I think reflect the diversity of opinions that Calgarians have towards how we share the roads and sidewalks in our city.

#1 Black Hole 

GG writes: “I think a concern can be raised that the cycling improvements are being sucked up by the inner city ‘black hole.’  Is there an appropriate focus on cycling improvements around other major employment hubs – the universities, Foothills Hospital, the new South Hospital (before the road system is fully developed), hubs like Quarry Park? The majority of employment is outside of downtown, that is where the focus should be.”

An illustration of how Councillors voted on the proposed City Centre Cycle Track Plan.  The Councillors in red voted against the plan and the ones in green for. The inner city might better be described as a "green hole."  As the Calgary grows the four quadrants of the city have less and less in common with the inner city; perhaps the unicity model doesn't work as a city gets larger? (credit: @BlairClagary)

An illustration of how Councillors voted on the proposed City Centre Cycle Track Plan.  The Councillors in red voted against the plan and the ones in green for. The inner city might better be described as a "green hole."  As the Calgary grows the four quadrants of the city have less and less in common with the inner city; perhaps the unicity model doesn't work as a city gets larger? (credit: @BlairClagary)

#2 Can't look after what we have

JR writes: “Why does the City keep investing in new infrastructure projects when the can’t look after what they already have.  It is very disappointing to see the city invest millions in Memorial Drive and 16th Avenue streetscape improvements where there is little to no street life, while the streetscapes of high traffic pedestrian areas like 4th Street, 17th Avenue and Kensington are at or nearing the end of their lifespan. Now we are going to invest in cycling infrastructure - the city know how to build things, but not how to maintain and upgrade them.”

17th Avenue and Calgary's other inner city BRZs (Downtown, 4th Street, Kensington, Inglewood and Victoria Park) all have streetscape improvement programs that are underfunded.   These streets are used by thousands of Calgarians very day.  Perhaps we do need to rethink about where we invest in public space improvements. 

#3 Stop the silliness 

DW writes: IMHO, distraction is the biggest threat. Like a disease, when only a few people have it society manages, but when everyone has it we call it an epidemic. Distraction is epidemic and the best vaccine is to make yourself aware and eliminate them. I assume that everyone is distracted and I am invisible to them whether I am driving my car, riding my bike or walking.

We live in a time where everyone is in a hurry, brains are saturated with too much information but they crave more, we're disconnected and want to use technology to connect and we don't feel safe but we put others at risk with our behaviours. Our brains don't multitask but we have systems set up to give us more tasks. Stop the silliness and enjoy a bike ride with friends.

This is an early 20th century downtown Calgary street.  Interesting to see how full the sidewalks are of people and how the road is shared by streetcars, cars and horse and buggies.  I realize this was a  slower time, but it does how how in the past we shared the road. Note how pedestrians had to walk into the middle of the street to get on the streetcar.  Urban vitality and animation allows for integration not segregation. 

Cyclist in Portland not paying attention.

#4 Get on with it

RZ writes: Of course no route will satisfy everyone. But the designs, I think are pretty uncontroversial. They’ve already been worked out in other cities, they’ve been hugely successful there, we’ve tried it ourselves on 7th Street – also successfully. There is no reason to wait.

This is a diagram of the proposed cycling infrastructure improvements planned for the City Centre. The green lines are the proposed new cycle tracks or separate bike lanes.  The yellow line is the 8th Street Master Plan Corridor Study which is more comprehensive than just bike lanes. The brown arrow is the proposed Stephen Avenue Bicycle Study and the blue is the new 7th Avenue Cycle Track that exists now. 

This is what a cycle track looks like. This is the new 7th Street SW cycle track in downtown Calgary that has become very popular for both commuters and recreational cyclers. (Photo credit: City of Calgary).

#5 Pop-up Bike Lane

TH sent me a link to the Tree Hugger website and their blog $600 pop-up protected bike land gets Minneapolis residents excited, & me too.”  In this blog Zachary Shahan tells the story of how a community group called Bikeways for Everyone used makeshift planters to create a temporary bike lane on a suburban street for one block.  While this is an interesting experiment, it is not the same as creating a separate bike lane on a busy downtown street.

Simple plywood planter were created with plants as the barriers between the road and the bike lane. (Photo Credit: Tree Hugger). 

While the pop-up bike lane was fun, it is not a real test of how this would work with road traffic as this was more of a festival activity than a true bike lane. But fun, funky and quirky none-the-less and worth the experiment. (Photo Credit: Tree Hugger). 

You can read my original blog at: “Drivers Cyclist Pedestrians need to learn to share.”

 

Other related blogs, that you might be interested are:

Is Calgary too downtown centric?

Calgary: Canada’s bike friendly city.