The city held the first of two public information sessions on Monday to show off the designs for the 7 Street cycle track.

The sessions are intended to allow Calgarians to provide feedback on the new track and roadway designs.

A cycle track is essentially a bike lane that is protected from traffic and pedestrians by a barrier.

The city is installing the two-way track along 7 St. S.W. between the Bow River Pathway and 8 Ave. as part of its Centre City cycle track network.

Officials say more and more people are cycling to work downtown and the network will improve mobility in the core.

Tom Thivener, the City of Calgary’s Bicycle Coordinator says the track has been in the works for about a year.

“The way 7th street operates now, it’s really a free-for-all if you’re a bicyclist. You come off the pathway and we watched the bicyclists, some brave it and ride with traffic, which is tough for a lot of people to do. Others dismount and walk the last several blocks or others will just ride on the sidewalk, so it’s not a perfect scenario right now,” said Thivener. “

Thivener says in the downtown you really need complete separation between traffic and the cyclists.

“Not just a painted line because you still have the risk of doors opening up in front of you, cars cutting across your bike lane, so there will be a concrete barrier that separates cars from the bicyclists and from the pedestrians,” said Thivener.

Design highlights include:

  • Connections include the Bow River Pathway, proposed 3 Avenue S.W. bikeway, LRT stations and 8 Avenue S.W. bikeway.
  • It is a two-way, 3m-wide dedicated lane for bicycles along the east side of 7 Street S.W., between the Bow River Pathway and 8 Avenue.
  • A one-metre wide concrete median, approximately the same height as the sidewalk curb, will protect the cycle track from the parking and travel lanes.New signals for bicycles at intersections along 7 Street S.W. will safely and efficiently coordinate the new traffic patterns.
  • First Avenue S.W., between 6 Street and 7 Street, will become a westbound one-way street.
  • Seventh Street S.W., between 1 Avenue and 4 Avenue, will become a southbound one-way street.
  • Green-coloured asphalt treatment will be installed at driveway and alleyway accesses to remind roadway users to look out for each other.
  • Calgary Transit is rerouting bus #31 and #419, which includes relocating two bus stops within one block of the original bus route. 

“This really represents a great opportunity for the downtown. Downtown is kind of the main destination for commuter cyclists, and it’s the type of facility that really makes it comfortable for people to cycle into the downtown,” said Brent Clark, President of Bike Calgary.

Clark says the pathway system in Calgary is fantastic and that the new track will encourage more people to cycle to work.

“Having a facility like this really caters to the Calgarians that want to cycle more often, are interested in cycling, but are concerned about riding in traffic. By separating them from motor vehicle traffic provides them that opportunity to cycle more often and to feel safer cycling on the streets," said Clark.

Not everyone is happy with the new cycle lane.

“The biggest concern they’ve had is the lack of engagement. It’s starting to pick up a little bit now but a lot of work was done in advance of ever going to the businesses to ask for their input,” said Maggie Schofield, Executive Director of the Calgary Downtown Association.

Schofield says it is a positive and negative for downtown businesses.

“It’s a little bit of both. We’re not exactly convinced that this particular piece of infrastructure is the right piece of infrastructure in the right area. We don’t believe it’s the place where cyclists really need it the most. We’re very pro-cycling. We want to make sure that the buildings that have gone to great lengths to have great bike parking within their facilities are able to use that and they’re workers are satisfied with the downtown and being able to access it. But we want to make sure that the actual access to buildings and for traffic and most importantly for pedestrians is not compromised.”

A second public information session will be held on:

  • Date: Tuesday, February 26
    Time: 6-8 p.m.
    Location: Centennial Place, west tower, 250 5 Street S.W.

Ottawa, Vancouver and Winnipeg have similar cycle tracks and the city says phase one of the cycle track network will open in early July 2013.

For more information, visit the City of Calgary website.