On 18-Dec-2017 (minutes link), Council approved Administration’s recommendation (link) for the annual Cycling Strategy review be presented to the Standing Policy Committee on Transportation and Transit no later than Q1-2018, to coincide with the reports on the;
Pedestrian Strategy (originally due no later than Jan-2018), and
Calgary Pathways and Bikeways Plan Update (originally due no later than Dec-2017).
Bike Calgary expects both cycling-related reports will come up for discussion as soon as early February and plans to address Committee on each of the three Pillars of the Cycling Strategy.
Above: Cycling Strategy. Figure E.1.1: Pillars of a bicycle-friendly city.
This post aims to raise awareness among Bike Calgary members in terms of the City’s progress to achieving targets within the “Plan, design and build” Pillar, including;
Adding more bike lanes and separated bike lanes, and
Developing (updating) the city-wide pathway and bikeway implementation plan.
Though the Cycling Strategy focus is on-street bikeways, a discussion around pathways is also necessary, particularly roadway corridor ‘boulevard pathways’ as these are widespread, retained in Complete Streets and incorporated into future projects, including;
As always, Bike Calgary appreciates member comments and input to help inform our advocacy efforts towards creating a comfortable environment to travel by bike for all Calgarians.
CYCLING IMPROVEMENTS THROUGH 2016 AND 2017
Progress has been made since 2016, mostly through the addition of new bike lanes and associated pathway links, including;
New bike lanes on 20th Street SW and 5th Avenue NW (Completed 2016)
Modifications to bike lanes and pathway connections on 53rd Street NW (2016-2018)
New bike lanes and pathway connections on Bowness Road (2017-2018)
New bike/shared lanes on Home Road NW (2017)
Bike lane extension on Northmount Drive at 14th Street NW (2017)
Above: Bike lane extension along Northmount Drive at 14th Street NW. Calgary, AB.
While many of these improvements provide significant benefit to Calgarians travelling by bike and enticement to some that want to travel by bike, separation by signage and markings may not suffice for all ages and abilities, depending on street context.
Above: Calgary’s “cycling market” as per the Cycling Strategy. Fig. 6-2.
More substantial all ages and abilities (“AAA”) benefits are offered by permanence of the Centre City Cycle Track network and a new cycle track on Edmonton Trail NE (both 2016).
Above: Bikes parked along the 8th Avenue cycle track, near 5th Avenue SW. Calgary, AB.
Recognizing that essential progress is being made, substantial acceleration is required to achieve the 2020 Cycling Strategy targets for bike lanes and cycle tracks, leading us to question whether the targets are achievable.
Above: Progress in kilometers towards 2020 Cycling Strategy targets (Cycling Strategy 2016 Update TT2016-0833).
Above: Percentage progress towards 2020 Cycling Strategy targets (Cycling Strategy 2016 Update TT2016-0833).
OBJECTIVES - BIKE LANES, CYCLE TRACKS AND PATHWAYS
Bike Calgary continues to aim for context-sensitive bike infrastructure (i.e. relative to traffic speed, volume and type) and street regulation (i.e. speed management) that satisfies the travel needs of cyclists, while being respectful of pedestrian, transit and motorist needs.
Multi-use pathways remain a concern, particularly where used in a roadway corridor in place of bike-specific accommodations. Challenges include;
Lack of network cohesion and questionable street context,
Design and regulatory deficiencies (particularly at intersections),
Variable snow and ice control (civic, commercial or residential responsibility) and
Divergent travel needs and usage expectations (cyclists vs. pedestrians).
To varying degrees, these may limit the utility and appeal of pathways for bicycle travel, while potentially affecting pedestrian and cyclist comfort and safety, as well as creating uncertainty of interaction between cyclists, pedestrians and motorists at intersections.
Above: Boulevard pathway along Nose Hill Drive near John Laurie Boulevard NW. Signage and markings, indicating a bicycle crossing and governing right-of-way are absent. Major intersection designs are not tailored to bicycle travel needs. Cyclists, requiring 20-30km/h (up to 50km/h on downhills) operating speeds, share space with pedestrians. Calgary, AB.
To this end, Bike Calgary will continue to raise awareness that the travel needs and usage expectations of cyclists and pedestrians differ, particularly travel speed and maneuverability, and that decision-makers must exercise caution in prescribing shared-use pathways, particularly current forms, as an adequate solution to achieve Complete Streets objectives.
As such, we will work towards expansion of the cycle track network, but also consideration for raised cycle tracks (see 17th Avenue SE Corridor Concept), an off-street solution aimed at at satisfying the travel needs of a broad range of age and ability of cyclist, while also minimizing encroachment on the pedestrian realm and providing space for all modes.
Above: Raised cycle tracks (off-street bicycle pathways) along Carral Street. Vancouver, BC.
Above: Raised cycle track concept for Northmount Drive at 14th Street NW, offering potential for all ages and abilities appeal through physical separation and reduced cyclist-motorist mixing zone interaction (City of Calgary Northmount Drive NW Improvement Project Options Handout).
For intersections, including bikeway-bikeway, bikeway-non-bikeway and pathway-roadway, we will continue to point to Complete Streets Policy stating that intersections “must be designed to safely accommodate all applicable modes of transportation” (Section 3.7.1) to help achieve clarity of operation for all modes. This includes (per NACTO’s Urban Bikeway Design Guide and other documents) treatments to;
Heighten visibility through;
Adequate sight distance,
Bicycle (or active-mode) scaled lighting (per Bike Calgary),
Denote clear right-of-way / communicate ROW priority,
Facilitate eye contact and awareness between modes,
Minimize exposure to conflicts, and
Reduce speed at conflict points.
Above: Bike boxes for turn movements at intersecting 12th Avenue and 5th Street SW cycle tracks (during construction). Calgary, AB.
While this can be accomplished through bike boxes and turn bays, Bike Calgary also aims to push for consideration of protected intersections for bike lanes, cycle tracks and pathways through at-grade and roundabout intersections.
Above: Complete Street with bicycle pathways (raised cycle tracks) and a protected intersection at Main Street and Spring Creek Drive. Canmore, AB.
Above: All-modes accommodated intersection of Burrard Street and Cornwall Avenue. Vancouver, BC. Source: www.cite7.org/vancouver-and-the-protected-intersection/.
OBJECTIVES - BICYCLE BOULEVARDS (NEIGHBOURHOOD GREENWAYS)
The 2016 Cycling Strategy update (TT2016-0833) Cover Report claims 340km (of 370km targeted) signed bike routes/bike boulevards completed. While the tally is misleading on the basis that a signed bike route is definitely not equivalent to a bicycle boulevard, the same report does differentiate between the two in its “Pathway and Bikeway Definitions”.
Above: Signed bike route on four-lane arterial street. Calgary, AB.
NACTO’s Urban Bikeway Design Guide defines a bicycle boulevard as a street “with low motorized traffic volumes and speeds, designated and designed to give bicycle travel priority”, while Calgary’s definition also highlights the priority benefit to pedestrians.
Bike Calgary believes that there are opportunities to advance a more robust network of bicycle boulevards, particularly in established inner-city neighbourhoods where well-connected grid networks provide suitable travel corridors and access to necessary amenities.
Above: Designated bicycle route along quieter residential street. Calgary. AB.
Beyond signage and pavement markings, the following measures, as prescribed by NACTO, would be promoted:
Route Planning: Direct access to destinations
Signs and Pavement Markings: Easy to find and to follow
Speed Management: Slow motor vehicle speeds
Volume Management: Low or reduced motor vehicle volumes
Minor Street Crossings: Minimal bicyclist delay
Major Street Crossings: Safe and convenient crossings
Offset Crossings: Clear and safe navigation
Green Infrastructure: Enhancing environments
OBJECTIVES - ADDITIONAL
In addition to the above, we also will continue to work towards addressing the following items.
Closed Crossings - There are a number of locations throughout the City where pathways through linear parks comprise important active modes travel corridors, but where closed crossings create mobility barriers and complicate bicycle travel.
Above: Closed mid-block crossing at pathway-signed bike route intersection with diversion to nearby road crossing exacerbating turn conflicts. Dalhousie Drive. Calgary, AB.
Objective: Identify closed intersections that impact bicycle mobility and advocate for modifications that ensure bicycle travel is adequately accommodated.
Cyclist Dismount Signage - Some pathway-roadway intersections (and some active mode overpasses) are signed for cyclists to dismount and walk their bike. Not only is this unlikely to achieve compliance, it is counter to Complete Streets Policy, and unnecessarily creates barriers to bicycle travel and the acceptance of cycling as a legitimate travel mode.
Above: Cyclist dismount sign. Nose Creek Pathway. Calgary, AB.
Objective: Advocate for removal of cyclist dismount signs and replacement with appropriate traffic control devices suitable to realistic user expectation and promoting bicycle travel.
Proliferation of Stop Signs - A recent phenomenon is the proliferation of stop signs on some pathways, in apparent contradiction to Calgary’s 2008 Bicycle Policy and Needs Report’s direction that;
“For bicycles to be effective as a means of transportation, cyclists must be able to maintain speed without having to slow down or stop often.”
Above: Stop sign at pathway junction Bow River Pathway at 12th Street SE. Calgary. AB.
Such signage raise the question of who it pertains to. Cyclists? Cyclists and pedestrians? Similarly, what is the realistic expectation of compliance? Low (if just cyclists)? Very low to non-existent (if pedestrians included)?
In order to achieve a realistic level of compliance and not unduly impact mobility it’s reasonable to suggest that stop signs should be avoided in any case where a yield sign would suffice.
Objective: Advocate for replacement of stop signs with yield signs, equality of right-of-way through multi-use crossings at any point a pathway crosses a roadway and modifications to Traffic Bylaw 20M96 Section 41(8) to change wording requiring cyclists to “stop” before entering a roadway or sidewalk at unmarked intersections to requiring cyclists to “yield”.
Maze Gates - Though it appears maze gates are being phased out of the pathway network there are still places they can be found. Navigating maze gates can be challenging for cyclists and may even preclude access for anyone on a non-standard bike or pulling a trailer.
Above: Maze gates (since replaced with bollards) at Valley Ridge Boulevard NW. Calgary, AB.
While maze gates no longer appear to be a design specification in Park’s Development Guidelines and Standard Specifications: Landscape Construction (2017), they are present as “walkway offset gates” (Figure 50) in Transportation’s Standard Specifications for Road Construction (2015).
Objective: Investigate policy options to exclude the use of maze gates in any situation where bicycle or pedestrian mobility may be negatively impacted and work towards accelerated replacement of existing maze gates.
Bollards - The City of Calgary’s 1996 Cycle Plan identifies bollards as a means to; (1) “warn pathway users that they are leaving a regional pathway and that caution is required” and (2) “prevent unwanted vehicles from entering the pathway”. Their 2000 Pathway and Bikeway Plan gives clear instruction that; (1) “bollards should allow a wheelchair or bike with trailer to easily pass…” and (2) that “one or three bollards, never two, should be used...”.
Above: Bollard placement examples. Two bollards placed improperly blocking travel lanes (left), since removed and replaced with single bollard as per policy (middle). Three bollards placed as per policy (right). Placement per policy should leave travel lanes clear. Southwest Calgary.
Even properly placed, Bike Calgary remains concerned that the number and design of bollards presents a safety hazard to pathway users.
Objective: Consider the benefit of bollards relative to the challenges they pose for mobility and safety. Investigate opportunities to reduce bollard usage and/or potential designs that may pose less of an injury risk in the event of a collision.