A year ago I reported on the results of the City of Calgary's annual cordon counts, where City staff stand at entrance points to the downtwon core and record number and travel mode of people crossing a screenline between 6 am and 10 pm. The headline was: For the first time, the count of people riding bicycles in and out of Calgary's downtown topped 10,000 in 2011. A year later, that number has risen to 12,007! That's a 20% increase over last year, and an almost 40% increase over 2006, when the count was 8,618. (See an interactive infographic here.)
In the morning peak hour (7:15-8:15 am), of a total of 61,341 people entering the Central Business District (CBD), 1,365 did so on bicycle. This makes the bicycle mode share of downtown commuters 2.23%, up from 2.05% in 2011 (an increase in the mode share of 8.6%). (Other modes: pedestrians 7.9%, carpool 15.3%, driving alone 26%, public transit 48.3%). In 2012, 1 in 10 downtown commuters got to the CBD by active transportation (walking or cycling).
During the peak hour, 22,788 vehicles entered the CBD. That makes the bicycle share of am peak hour vehicle traffic into the downtown almost 6%. Inother words, 1 in 17 vehicles in downtown rush hour traffic is now a bicycle. Yet, still 0 roads in or out of the downtown have bike lanes on them.
The Peace Bridge, which opened last March, is now the second most frequented bicycle connection to downtown, with 1,486 bicycles counted, behind the Bow River Pathway south of the river on the west (2,882 bicycles/day) and ahead of Prince's Island (1,187). These two old crossings saw increases in cycling traffic over 2011, and the other two river crossings near the Peace Bridge (Louise Bridge and the LRT Bridge lower deck) saw a decrease of only 150 bicycle crossings combined. In other words, the Peace Bridge has attracted an additional 650 commuter cyclists.
Together, 2,607 cyclists approach the downtown from the north-west corner every day, about twice as many as enter the downtown from the Beltline and almost44%of the total. Not all of them will enter into the CBD near there, but surely a large percentage of them will. A safe, convenient connection into the downtown such as the planned cycle track on 7 Street will serve them well and is likely to attract even more bike commuters, especially from the "interested but concerned" segment, of whom 82% do not feel safe cycling in traffic. Most bicycle collisions happen downtown (1/8 of the total, while the downtown core is about 1/800 the size of Calgary). And 1/6 of all downtown bicycle collisions happen within one block of that planned cycle track, so safe infrastructure is sorely needed in that part of the core.