Active transportation refers to human-powered transportation. Examples include:
- using a wheelchair
- in-line skating or skateboarding
- pushing a baby stroller
Since 2012, Calgary has had a cycling strategy, but there have been ongoing problems, challenges and concerns with it’s implementation. Critics argue that the project is expensive and Calgary’s weather doesn’t allow for year round use. Proponents argue that Scandinavian countries are much further north than we are and have excellent use of bicycle lanes and other forms of active transportation infrastructure.
My General Rule of Thumb: Any resident of Calgary should be 1) able to get around their neighbourhood in a wheelchair, and 2) able to get to work safely and efficiently using a bicycle. This is a basic starting point. There will be special areas where these goals are impractical or impossible, but I believe we should strive towards this whenever possible. I believe that by accomplishing these two goals, most other forms of active transportation will automatically be included. For example, curbs that make wheelchair access possible also help with strollers, skateboards, people who use canes or crutches, and so on.
I’m NOT in favour of spending huge amounts of money on special separate projects to accomplish this, however. It’s needlessly expensive and takes workers away from much needed repairs to existing infrastructure and current projects.
I am also not in favour of putting in bike lanes where the result is a street that’s more dangerous to people than before it was put in. Bike lanes and wheelchair ramps must be either safety neutral or (preferably) safety positive.
I AM in favor of a process where:
- Whenever a street, road, intersection or other suitable piece of infrastructure is worked on as a normal part of road maintenance, Complete Streets are put in place automatically and at the same time. The crew is already there and working, so this is the best and least expensive time to do it.
- Outside of this, a clear, cost effective and non-intrusive plan for implementation city-wide should be followed. Not a side project. Just slow and steady, like riding a bike.
- Exception: There will be certain high priority areas where handicap or cycle access is a high priority due to dangerous conditions, high use, and so on. In these cases, the active transportation options should be put in place as soon as funds are available even if it means a special project is required. The more dangerous the situation, the higher the priority.
- The community is consulted in a real and transparent manner. For too long, residents of Calgary have not been considered stakeholders in their own neighbourhoods.
People want to use bicycles, but they are often concerned about the dangers of riding in traffic. Likewise, drivers in the area are concerned with the slowdowns in traffic flow and increased danger of hitting cyclists. Bike lanes address both problems.
In addition to bike lanes on roads, there is also a very real issue of snow removal, lighting and visibility on paths through greenspace areas – for the safety of everyone (pedestrians, cyclists and joggers) these paths should be lit well enough and safe enough to prevent accidents.
Generally speaking, Calgary residents who are upset with bike lane construction are upset with *how* they are being implemented, not the fact that they are being implemented. This lack of real engagement and transparency is an ongoing concern and a major election issue for me. Many residents have suggested very reasonable options and alternatives that address all the concerns, and feel they have been ignored.
The health, safety, environmental, and social benefits of bike lanes and other forms of active transportation are well documented. Currently, the bike racks at City Hall are filled to capacity, and bike usage on roads has been shown to triple on roads in Calgary where bike lanes are installed.
I’m very pro active transportation – it just has to be done in a reasonable, cost effective manner that enhances traffic flow and safety.