If you build it, they will come. That’s the message from Calgary Alberta Canada, where a series of protected bike lanes (cycletracks) criss-crossing the central business district are seeing increased use as more residents consider vehicular cycling…many for the first time.
Since it opened in June of this year, traffic has increased on the Centre City Cycletrack Pilot Project by a staggering 95%. Many of the cyclists are newcomers like the woman in the video below. The draw is the perceived safety of the protected bike lanes.
The pilot project actually consists of three downtown cycletracks that connect with pre-existing bicycle infrastructure:
- 5 Street (on the east side from 3 Ave. S.W. to 17 Ave. S.W.)
- 12 Avenue (on the north side from 11 St. S.W. to 4 St. S.E.)
- 8 Avenue / 9 Avenue (on the north and south sides from 11 St. S.W. to 3 St. S.W. and Macleod Trail to 4 St. S.E.)
Some of the cycletracks are one way while others are two way. Intersections include bike boxes and left turns are accomplished using the Copenhagen Left. This allows novice cyclists to avoid riding into active traffic lanes and enhances the perception of safety.
Calgary’s experience is not unique. Protected bike lanes are an important part of the infrastructure mix because people who wouldn’t dream of riding in the street feel much safer with a barrier separating traffic.
A recent CBC story suggests that support for the new cycletracks extends far beyond the cycling community. Calgarians support the pilot project by a two to one margin. The high level of support has led to calls to expand the network and caused many residents to see cycling as a viable form of transportation, especially for shorter trips around town.