Migo's picture

Designing new master plan, need bike-related advice

I'm part of a design group at the U of C, and currently our project involves designing a master plan for the Manchester area (between Blackfoot and MacCleod, and between 34 Ave and Chinook station).

Things on the table are bike corridors/paths (obviously), re-zoning from light/heavy industrial to a more commercial/residential mix, possibly a new station between 39 st and chinook, etc etc.

What I would like to know is... do any of you commute through this area? It is dreadful.

Where are you coming from, where are you headed, how do you thread your way through that area, and why do you pass through that area?


critninja's picture

next bike calgary BoD meeting?

might i humbly suggest that you attend the next BoD meeting. i am not sure when it is, but it may be good for you to come and present your project to all of us.

when i see an adult on a bicycle, i do not despair for the future of the human race.
- h.g. wells

BCDon's picture

Bike Lanes

I don't commute through that area but as a Calgary Taxpayer my vote is to spend money on Bike Lanes.

There is NO reason why my current commute by bicycle should be 2Km longer than my commute by car but it is (that's an 11% increase in my case). And this is caused because Calgary, as a city, does not fully embrace proper bike lanes. As an example, 14th street. There is a large green area on either side of 14th street south once you are past Heritage, could be a bike lane. North of heritage, there are those gigantic walls and on the East side there already is a path (but too narrow). With some proper planning, there could easily be a bike patch from Fish Creek STRAIGHT NORTH all along 14th, carry right into the existing path over the dam (NO, not through Heritage and Rockyview, bypass them).

Oh look, I've been ranting again. Oh well.

Jaykay65's picture


A lot of work has already been done by Plan-It Calgary.

Refer to the links to the "Proposed Calgary Transportation Plan (CTP)" and the "CTP Maps" in the link provided. These are very high-level and conceptual plans, so it is not specific to your area of study.

Also the city undertook a study by a consultant almost 10 years ago, http://www.calgary.ca/portal/server.pt/gateway/PTARGS_0_0_780_234_0_43/h...
Interesting to open the "Implementation Map" and see the
Approved Pathway - Several that I know of on this map still are not built!!
Proposed Pathway Alignment, Recommended On-Street Bicycle Route, Recommended Bicycle Lane / Wide Curb Lane and Recommended Intersection Improvement.

It has been almost 10 years and this is what we have to show for it? Oh sorry it has only been just a couple of months over 9 years, I guess I should give them till July 2010 when it will be fully 10 years. Maybe by then they will have the APPROVED Pathways and some of the recommendations built. :-P
The preamble on the webpage states "...260 kilometres of on-street bicycle routes..." Where?

Sorry I am in a RANTING mood today as well.

shockingTemple's picture

But see how fast the

But see how fast the approval and construction of the Glenmore & 37th St. traffic circle was? It has been in the news only a couple of weeks and it is apparently mostly done now. It seems that $250K, construction crews and political will are easy to come by when something is a priority...

True, that intersection affects many people BUT it is also true that the City wants to support alternative transportation. Hard not to rant when you see chartware remain chartware after a decade.


mikewarren's picture

golf courses

I have ridden through that area a handful of times, largely to pick up or drop off my truck (@ modern motors).

One general comment I have is that often in Calgary, a logical route for bike paths/communting (e.g. along creeks or old creekbeds) are interrupted by golf courses (for example, Confederation and Fox Hollow both make the bike path much longer and hillier than it needs to be).

The Fox Hollow one is especially annoying since directly in the middle of it is the bridge over Deerfoot, so if you're heading east or west then you need to take a detour around Fox Hollow. Ditto with Confederation, you need to detour south or north (and climb a little) out of the creek to avoid the golf course.

To more directly answer your question, (my experience is more east in Ogden) since that's near the river valley, don't make any bike route repeatedly climb/descend the valley; if I'm on a "bike way" and I know my ultimate goal is NOT in the river valley, I'll stop following it if it descends.

Also, the industrial areas tend to have a lot of dead ends and the Calgary "bike way" system totally lacks any way to get back to a "way" or a path; if you lose it you're screwed. I've twice failed to link up bike-ways to get back to the irrigation canal through Ogden trying to get south (basically the only solution is to know the area). After getting lost, my usual solution is to follow the main roads I know from driving (in this case Barlow).

Not directly releated either, but although there are some signs on the pathways around Pearce Estates and the weir, it took me three trips to learn that I could follow the paths and not end up on the wrong side of Deerfoot or the river -- having "routes" with some indication of where you might end up is waaaay more useful than what we have now.

Theoretically, you can take a bike-path map with you and stop every 6 blocks to consult which of the turns to take, but this would be tedious and I've never personally done this as it's too much pain.

mike at mike dash warren dot com

baileysmith6's picture

Manchester area

I go through this area quite a lot. I go from Chaparral to Ramsay.

Going north I take Fairmont dr/Center st to 58 av. At 58 av I make a right to 1 st se. I then use a combination of 1 and 1a and back to 1 st se which takes me to 42 av. At 42 av I go east to Cleveland Cr/4 st northbnd onto Highfield Rd. se (Highfield Road is closed until Oct 12, 2009 so I have been taking Manchester Road to 34 av then use Dartmouth road)

There is a service road that runs for approx. 16 blocks that is immediately west of the lrt tracks starting at 58 avenue and going north to about 4300 block. It intersects a back alley that is east of McLeod Tr and this alley goes north to 42 avenue. It is also separated from the lrt r.o.w. with a chainlink fence. It is made up of larger stones and is not very bike friendly to manouver on but is very direct. If the City could change this to gravel or a paved bikepath , it would be an excellent route. This has to be the most beneficial and efficient out of all the changes you can do to this area. It wouldn't cost the city much to make this into a bikeworthy path. On 58 av there is no dip in the sidewalk which prevents cars from accessing the service road.

ride's picture

more on Manchester

I've ridden this route from the Bow River all the way to Southland a couple of times. I agree with baileysmith that the gravel laneway from 42 Ave to 50 Ave needs to be paved in order to be ridden by skinny-tired road bikes (though at present you can skirt this section by stepping through a hole in a fence near 46 Ave and then use shopping centre parking lots (but that's not good enough for an official bike route).

(click on image to view details)
. Alternatively, some people head east on 42 Ave to 1 St SE, which seems okay at first, but gradually that route naturally takes you further and further away from McLeod Trail. By paving the laneway beside the LRT tracks, you can then take 1 St south of 50 Ave and 1A St SW south of 58 Ave, all the way to Glenmore.

At Glenmore, you have to jog east to the railway overpass in order to access a pedestrian underpass. This needs re-work, as it has steep approach stairs. Ideally it should have ramps on both ends.

Not far south of Glenmore, you can cross McLeod at 73 Ave, and from then on it's clear sailing on Haddon Road and its logical extensions all the way to Fish Creek or beyond.

You can see my route suggestion on gmap-pedometer.com; summary at left.

If we're going to make headway with bike commuting, we need on-street bike routes that are direct, safe, and ideally signed with 40 km/h speed limits. And to answer your question as to why I would use this route, it's simple: I'm a consumer, like everyone else. If I have some shopping to do that doesn't involve carrying furniture, I'll typically take my bike instead of my car, and get in a bit of exercise while running my errand. No parking hassles, and on many weekends it's way faster by bike than by car. So, bike routes need to go not just to downtown, but also anywhere where is concentrated commercial activity. That means we need a route that parallels McLeod Trail, and close to it.

Taking some of the other posters' suggestions a bit further, the roadway allowance along virtually the entire Crowchild Trail is ample for construction of a bikepath (though in the north one is not needed as there are parallel roads immediately adjacent to the E side of the trail). You could say ditto for 16 Ave from Deerfoot east, but there's a parallel route on 8 Ave NE which is already a bike route to 19 St, then along 4 Ave to Barlow. Next year work will begin on a 5 Ave extension for some considerable distance east.

bike2workman's picture

42 Ave is not fun

I used to cycle to work from my home in Altadore, to my workplace on 42 Ave SE, a little east of Blackfoot. From Altadore to Macleod Trail was no problem but 42 Ave between Macleod and Blackfoot felt pretty scary on the road. I would ride on the sidewalk when I was going east in the morning. I'm not normally a sidewalk rider but in this case I made an exception. My home and work locations have since change but I think that a bike lane or pathway on 42 Ave would be useful for cyclists going East-West in the area.

ride's picture

More on 42 Ave S

to back up bike2workman's comments, 42 Ave is horrible because it's 4 lanes... 4 narrow lanes. There's not enough room in the curb lane for you to run 1m from the curb and still have 1m of clearance from passing cars. Also, 42 Ave has a hill on it at both ends. It's downhill eastbound from McLeod to near the LRT tracks, then uphill to Blackfoot Trail. If you are eastbound, you are moving so slowly that you're a bit of a sitting duck. If you take the lane, you're causing motor traffic to back up behind you, and if you don't the lane, you're asking for trouble. I ride the sidewalk here too.

However, in the westbound direction, I let the platoon get past me at Blackfoot, then take the lane and boot it. I can easily keep up with traffic all the way to the LRT tracks, and then the road is wider on the west side.

East of Blackfoot Trail, there's a new bike lane on Highfield Road, from 42 Ave down the hill to Ogden Road. From Ogden Road, you can take 38 Ave east to either 16 or 16A St, south to 42 Ave again, then east to the river pathway system.

Frankie's picture

Indeed an awful part of town

It is a combination of poor infrastructure and drivers attitude that makes this such a dreadful part of my commute. What is it with pickup trucks? Do you have to surrender a part of your brain at the time of purchase..

I have mitigated the 42 Avenue hazard a bit by leaving very early for work to avoid the rush hour and taking 39 Avenue if I can so at least I only have to do 42nd part of the route. The thing is, heading southeast from the beltline area, there is no really no alternative for 42 Avenue SE, so a bit of attention from the City is in order I would say. The most dreadful portion when you are climbing east towards Blackfoot has plenty of width to put a bikelane in. However, it has poor pavement quality and amazing quantities of gravel and debris accumulate in a typical winter.

Migo's picture

"It is a combination of poor

"It is a combination of poor infrastructure and drivers attitude that makes this such a dreadful part of my commute. What is it with pickup trucks? Do you have to surrender a part of your brain at the time of purchase.."

I was quite surprised as well when I biked through the area. I got yelled at by half a dozen motorists, and on one occasion I was even on the sidewalk. To think I was only there for an hour.

Julie Gregg's picture


I drive a pick up truck, and I'm a nice person and I'm especially considerate of cyclists.......oh, maybe cuz I are one when I'm not driven my truck.

Migo's picture

Wow, thanks for all the

Wow, thanks for all the comments/feedback. I'll try to respond to as many of them as I can (I have to be somewhere in the next 15 mins).

I suppose that I did not clarify my objective in the first post. We're undertaking a project to determine what the Manchester area can/will look like in the next 20-30 years, and most things are on the table (i.e. pushing out heavy & light industrial zoning, to commercial and residential), developing a new C-train stop between 39 and Chinook, complete streets (bike/car/pedestrian), developing new greenspace and connecting it to existing parks, etc etc.

Note that these are 20-30 year goals, so we're hoping to be quite creative/bold in pushing new concepts (at least for Calgary), such as car-free neighbourhoods (search Vauban, Germany on Google), bike travel as a feedering method for transit, zero carbon footprint developments, etc.

The main purpose for my inquiry here is to see whether or not there are existing circulation patterns for bicycle commuters (since I couldn't find any attractive options when cycling through the site myself), as well as determining whether or not there were any common destinations or paths that people choose to take, and for what reasons.

We have studied Plan-It Calgary, and although we are taking these things into consideration (i.e. in order for our design to perhaps compliment it), we're still open to the possibility of more... forward-looking developments. We don't want to stifle our creativity just yet.

The city is still quite resistant to change, and without a bold push, any design seems to get whittled down to the status quo.

critninja - I'd be happy to attend the next BoD. I'll discuss this with my peers as well as my supervisor, in case they'd prefer the project staying a bit hush-hush for now. We have a visioning charrette with the city's planners on Friday, and we're likely throwing everything on the table - kitchen sink included.