Bike Calgary's picture

Northmount Drive NW Bikeway

The City of Calgary is hosting a public open house to provide information about plans to improve accommodations for cyclists along Northmount Drive NW, between Northland Drive NW and Cambrian Drive NW/10 Street NW.  In addition to the objective of creating a safer street environment for all users, such improvements would be a significant step in creating a direct on-street bikeway corridor between the northwest and downtown.  

The open house will take place on Tuesday, February 16, 2016 at the Triwood Community Association (2244 Chicoutimi Dr. NW). Drop-in from 5-8 pm.

Details of the project can be found at




Bike Calgary's picture

Northmount Drive NW Bikeway - Online Feedback to February 24th

If you use Northmount Drive NW or would like to use Northmount Drive NW as part of your cycling route and would like to provide feedback you can do so until February 24th, 2016 via:

At the February 16th public open house, the city presented the rationale behind the project as well as data to support why Northmount Drive is a good candidate for bikeway improvements.  As part of this, they shared feedback received at the first Stakeholder Meeting in October as well as contrasted Northmount Drive with other possible bikeway options in the area.  The display boards from the open house can be found at:

It's worthwhile noting that the City did not introduce any concepts for what bicycle infrastructure might look like on Northmount Drive.  Instead, the open house was an opportunity for residents and people travelling the area to learn about the project and provide City Staff with their suggestions on improvements for the corridor, both bikeway specific and in general. 

A bikeway on Northmount Drive would fill in a critical gap in the bikeway network by connecting the 10th Street NW bike lanes to the Northland Drive bikeway.  If the creation of this bikeway is accomplished, it would be a significant step towards the development of a robust on-street bicycle travel corridor between the northwest and downtown, particularly if the City is able to enhance the connection into Dalhousie and thus better tie in adjacent communities such as Ranchlands, Edgemont and points beyond.  It would also allow the City the opportunity to address some of the challenges that make busier intersections such as Northmount Drive and 14th Street NW uncomfortable and difficult for cyclists.

As always, retrofitting bikeways onto existing roadways are contentious, so providing your feedback is essential.  Finding a solution that provides safe and comfortable space for people travelling by bikes, while still meeting the needs of the community would be ideal.

bclark's picture

Northmount Drive NW - Open House

As taken from

Northmount Drive N.W. Improvement Project public workshop on Thursday, June 23, 2016 from 6 – 8:30 p.m. at the Brentwood Sportsplex/Community Association (1520 Northmount Drive N.W.).

Space is limited, so please RSVP by June 17, 2016 at

bclark's picture

Northmount Drive - Workshop Observations

On Thursday night (June, 23rd) I attended the latest public workshop for the Northmount Drive NW Improvement (formerly Northmount Drive Bikeway) Project.  Here’s my perspective on the meeting/project.

First off, there was a fairly large number of people.  While a number spoke in favor of the project, there were many with concerns about potential impact and some that were downright opposed.  Three oft-cited concerns were;

  • Traffic congestion will increase.

  • Parking will be reduced.

  • There are already alternative routes.

At this point the City has not committed to the type of cycling infrastructure, but bike lanes appear the favored option.  Due to the constrained nature of the road, this would necessitate parking consolidation on one side of the street, though with possible opportunities to retain both sides in some areas.

While it would seem that parking consolidation would have negligible negative impact on through-travel between intersections, i.e. all through lanes are retained and drivers would simply be travelling beside a bike lane instead of a parking lane, many attendees were still concerned that adding bike lanes would increase congestion.  My experience, given often limited parking utilization in many areas, is that bike lanes would actually improve traffic flow for drivers, as they would no longer have to slow or pass close to any cyclists that have merged into the travel lane to bypass the few areas where there are parked cars.  At intersections, the City seemed very keen to address any congestion concerns through lane markings and physical improvements that would make it better for all users, cyclists, pedestrians and motorists.

Where there would certainly be an impact is on both the availability and convenience of parking and this, to me, seems to be where the balance needs to be struck on this project.  Is providing a safer travel environment for those already riding and, in doing so, making it possible to cycle for those currently unwilling to do so, worth the compromise on parking?

In terms of the alternative routes, the two most often-cited were the pathway along John Laurie and Capri Drive.  Out of interest, I had scouted both and each has its challenges, in terms of extra distance, additional topography, limited access, winter upkeep or lack of connectivity that would still, I believe, make Northmount preferable as a regular cycling connection when travelling through the area or to amenities within the area.

Also mentioned was connecting along Brentwood Road's bike lanes to eventually reach the 10th Street bike lanes.  While there are options that might make this workable for travel between the northwest and downtown, there would still, IMO, be need for significant upgrades to make it suitable to all-ages-and-abilities and to open up/improve access across major corridors.  Winter would also be a challenge as parts would consist of non-cleared residential roads.  This would not help in reaching amenities along the Northmount.


Riding to the meeting, I mused about other options for the corridor such as; (1) making it a neighbourhood greenway or (2) building a cycling facility off the roadway and on the boulevard.  A neighbourhood greenway could entail traffic diverters that limit through traffic, thus making it a more residential street.  While there is some appeal, I think this would be a tough sell overall.  One-way cycle tracks on the boulevard on each side might have appeal for all-ages-and-abilities, but there are significant constraints with trees and utilities that would probably rule this out.  Also, intersections would be a big challenge and would need to be well-designed for safe and efficient bicycle travel and ensuring broad-appeal.

Crivak's picture

(2) building a cycling

(2) building a cycling facility off the roadway and on the boulevard.

That's what I'd like to see. Instead of building on the boulevard, though, what I suggested was extending the boulevard and making a raised bike lane down the middle: half on the existing boulevard, half on the existing road. In this regard, most of what you're doing is moving the curb and drainage further into the road (partially into the parking) and repaving.  This also makes it easier to extend infrastructure into the intersections, which is the tricky part of separate infrastructure. 

This is what I tried to illustrate what I meant with. I believe something similar to this is doable on most of both sides of the road. Or at the very least, one side, to save space.

bclark's picture

Existing constraints

Given what this corridor could be, the ideal solution might be something similar to what we are both describing, though it would basically require starting from scratch and I don't get the impression Council is going to even debate the substantial funds necessary to completely rebuild the corridor, including all the underground utilities such as water and sewer (note: it's funny that they will discuss multi-million dollar expenditures to temporarily improve Sarcee Trail until the SW Ring Road is which point the Sarcee improvements would become redundant...but I digress).

Given this, I was trying to think about it within the existing constraints in terms of roadway width and curb position.  In it's simplest, just building raised cycle tracks adjacent to the curb, using the existing curb line (maybe adding a door zone buffer for parking) would retain most current road elements.  I don't think there's space in much of the corridor due to the trees and these are (understandably) non-touchable.

Where you thinking of the same thing on the other side as well?

One thing I did not mention, that was really interesting, is that the City had sketched up a concept for a fully 'protected' intersection at Northmount and Northland (anyone unfamiliar with protected intersections can see our comments about 17th Avenue SE or simply Google "protected intersection").  I'm definitely excited to see these types of concepts being entertained.

Crivak's picture


Both sides. I don't think there's enough space for a two way on just one side. 

I know they don't want to spend money, but I think in a case like this the road is important enough that it warrants doing correctly. I think at any point where they are doing upgrades to roads in residential areas that they owe it to the people living there to do it right. Messing with roads like Sarcee that're just sewer roads for cars and don't impact someones every day living conditions? Sure, do it right too, but prioritizing that over someones front yard is just plain wrong priorities, IMO. 

Make a bike lane that the people who don't want it will look at it and think it's nice enough to use it themselves too. That's the goal. 

Cool to hear about the intersection. The intersection from Northmount to Northland was leaving some pretty big questions and concerns for me. It is not a safe or comfortable place to cross at. 

RichieRich's picture

Northmount - winter considerations

Wonderful summary and review BClark.  Thank you.

I am very excited to hear about increased infrastructure within the existing communities to link the NW to DT, without having to back up to Dalhousie and navigate the Home Road route.  For the re/developing communities the city needs to have more involvement at the Area Structure Plan (ASP) stage with developers to ensure both greenways and accessibility is considered. 

Was there any discussion around how winter traffic, conditions, and clearing affect the various options?  This would be interesting of course because Roads and Parks operate separately and with different agenda's/directions and hence Parks clearing capacity has been, IMO, less consistent with the exception perhaps of the Edworthy/Downtown link.

bclark's picture

Dalhousie Connection

In order to really make this work and achieve utilization on Northmount as well as increased utilization on Northland, the City must improve the bicycle connection into Dalhousie as this is either the immediate 'market' to feed the infrastructure or the community through which further out communities (Edgemont, Hawkwood, Ranchlands, etc.) feed through to get to amenities in or closer to the Centre City.  Currently, the only options are to ride the blue-signed bicycle route on Dalhousie Drive (not terribly comfortable for all-ages-and-abilities) or (in part) utilize the decrepit pathway segment on the north side of Dalhousie Drive or use the new pathway and overpass over Shaganappi (including winding through the Northland Mall parking lot) to access Northmount.

I know there is ongoing talk about revitalization in the Dalhousie area, including Northland Mall, which was in the media recently due to speculation about Whole Foods going in.  These types of revitalizations will only increase traffic, potentially making the roads less-comfortable for cycling, unless quality infrastructure is put in place to preserve vital connections.

There was no discussion specifically about winter maintenance other than the facilator at our table saying adding bike lanes will make it Priority 1 clearing (though I believe it would only be priority 2, based on the SNIC policy  I did point out that bike lane SNIC is improving, but still leaves much to be desired in terms of ensuring a reliable and safe bike lane.  I also stressed that, even though a bike lane may be cleared, the City needs to also modify policies to ensure any adjacent parking lanes are cleared, otherwise parked cars will tend to encroach the bike lane.



mikewarren's picture


The supposition was the door-zone bike lanes were better because they could be plowed with "normal" plows. Many people at my table asked for buffered bike-lanes (i.e. bike-lane buffered by the parked cars).

I tried to convince the city people that the door-zone lanes are bad "because door zone", but also because they don't solve "the snow problem" magically. What actually happens is that the snow is piled in the bike lane. The "painted lane next to curb" (e.g. like 10th) is better for snow-removal with "normal" plows.

IMO, the lack of proper snow-clearing equipment is a terrible excuse to build deadly door-zone bike lanes. At some point, they're going to have to start clearing all the sidewalk-MUPs they've built, so those machines can clear "buffered" bike lanes. Until then, I'd rather ride in "melting fluffy snow" rather than "pile of slush and ice from last storm" like now.

CPat's picture

Northmount Impressions - Write a letter to your councillor

New project page:


November 2015 / Febuary 2016 comments:


June comments to come in August.


Quickly, after removing the south side (likely) for parking (only 8%) there's still 42% spare capacity of the 50% empty, wasted parking space.

There are 9 schools on this road, i.e. young children, we should be pushing for separated cycling infrastructure.  What's achievable is likely similar to the removable curbs and stancions like for the cycletrack pilot with a parking protected bike lane on the other.  Safety is worth the trade off for slightly later winter SNIC.

The alternate routes are oustide the scope of a paving project, and a dicussion for the Pathway and Bikeway Plan Update starting this winter.

mikewarren's picture


Seriously, why can't Calgary Transport afford to license the *actual* strava data instead of the crap screenshots of the "labs" project they keep showing?! Pretty sad.

CPat's picture

Given we only get bike lanes,

Given we only get bike lanes, and as some argue door zone bike lanes at that, only when it's the rounding error on a paving project, what do you think would actually be gained from paying for this actual data?  I'd rather they spent the money on a mailing, an open house for one more cycling infrastructure project.

Maybe it'd be more effective if you made an argument such as it will give them origin and destination data to feed into something like this:

But from what I understand premium members can drill into the data already to see who is cycling when and where.  The screenshots communicate where the desire lines are, given that Strava is not representative of all cyclists.  The number of cyclists, what the NIMBYs attack, isn't as important as showing there's a desire line.  Why is that important?  Cyclists who compete generally were more organized in the 1970's, i.e. clubs, teams, etc, and quashed the majority everyday cyclists with their own interests of vehicular cycling and enshrined their wants into codes and standards.

mikewarren's picture

Several reasons

First of all, the "heat maps" is someone's side project at Strava -- we have no idea what algorithm is used to turn data into visualization. Also, the City can absolutely afford a few $k for some data -- and I think any "data driven decision" should have (and archive) the data involved. Less importantly, if we *did* have the real data we could ask our own questions.

(BTW, Strava Metro does claim to give origin and destination data -- but again I don't know the details on what exactly that means. But I guess you mean you'd need that data for all-users?). Also, yes more open-data would be great; hadn't heard of "PCT" before, but it looks neat.

The limited budget for "bike stuff" is indeed bad. I think that's a separate issue, though? (i.e. why aren't these projects actually-integrated into transportation spending as we were promised). If we really are deciding between "spend a bit on actual-data" or "paint a few lane-KMs of lanes" obviously I'm going to pick the latter.

bclark's picture

Northmount Drive NW - Options Evaluation Workshop - 18-Oct

As members are no doubt aware, the City of Calgary has been working towards improvements to establish a bikeway on Northmount Drive NW, filling in a critical missing connection in the bikeway network between Northland Drive NW and the Cambrian Drive/10th Street NW bike lanes with the potential to create a more cycling-friendly connection between northwest communties, SAIT, Kensington, the Centre City, etc.

The City of Calgary will be hosting two Options Evaluations Workshops on October 18th, 2016 at the Triwood Community Association (2244 Chicoutimi Drive NW):

  • Workshop 1: 5:00pm to 7:15pm
  • Workshop 2: 7:30pm to 8:45pm

RSVP by October 14th a

Agenda (as per City of Calgary):

  • Registration (Session 1: 4:45 – 5 p.m., Session 2: 7:15 – 7:30 p.m.)
  • Introduction and presentation by the project team (10 min)
  • Small group discussions about (1 hour):
    • Proposed bike lane concept
    • Intersection improvement options
    • Proposed parking changes
    • School bus pick-up and drop-off zone improvements
    • Streetscape and pedestrian improvements
  • Summarize what we heard and next steps (5 min)

For those that have not attended previous sessions, while Bike Calgary understands that there is support within segments of the community for bikeway improvements, there have also been concerns expressed with potential for increased congestion, particularly near schools and at intersections, and potential parking changes.  Some have also questioned why any of the alternative, though less direct, routes could not be chosen.  Given this, it's important community hears the rationale for a direct and comfortable bikeway, both from their neighbours, travelling within and to destinations outside of their own community, as well as from fellow Calgarians, travelling from bordering communities to amenities along the Northmount corridor and beyond.  As the City has committed to mitigating congestion issues in areas of concern, it's also important to show that dedicated cycling-space may improve traffic flow, reduce uncertainty and increase accessibility over the current state, where people riding the corridor have to take the entire travel lane to safely bypass parked cars.  

More details can be found at the City of Calgary's project webpage

If you live in or travel through the area, please consider attending one of the workshops to review and comment on the designs so as to help ensure they meet user travel needs.
bclark's picture

Northmount Workshop

Some interesting options presented at last night's workshops.  In particular, the Northland Drive and 14th Street intersections could get significant overhauls.  I heard a lot of positive comments about a possible protected intersection at Northland.  The discussion around the 14th Street intersection options was more vague, with people liking or being challenged by various elements of concepts for raised cycle tracks or multiuse pathways tying into bike lanes.

City has said that options will be up for comments between now and November 1.  Definitely take a look.  Interested to hear what people think.

mikewarren's picture

14th Intersection

I think the best single thing I saw at the workshop was the "Option 1" 14th Street intersection (please, vote early and often etc for this one, bike-calgary!). The highlights:

 - separated bike-thing that takes you from the "pre-14th" light to 14th, *but* critically isn't part of the sidewalk (the cement sidewalk will remain, albeit right beside the MUP) but I think maybe they're finally realizing "sidewalks bad"

 - separate bike-only light at 14th (both directions).

 - both options had a 'separated but on road" cycletrack/MUP thing for the block west of 14th, too. Very nice. This (on the diagrams) merged nicely with the painted bike lane that continues west.

 - the high-speed exit ("channelized design", I'm told) off Northmount/10th to the northbound road is gone (i.e. Cambrian Dr/10th to Northmount north-bound).

 - ditto the one on the west side of the intersection (i.e. coming out of the Burger Drive-In/mall; "Carol Drive")

It's not perfect, but it's 9000 times better than "option 2", which would mean a 2-light cycle and "wait in bike-box or pedestrian island" for the 2nd phase (for both peds and cyclists). AND it's a 'normal' sidewalk-MUP, with no separate sidewalk (so probably they just slap yellow paint on the existing sidewalk, as in other retrofits). I tried to point out that any remotely "road-comfortable" cyclist won't do that. Unfortunately, the engineers that apparently won't even sign off on a "buffered intersection" design weren't there :/ Someone suggested a "scramble" intersection at one of the Northland Mall intersections when this was pointed out (i.e. that there's no way they'd get "higher level" engineer signoff). Sad that these dinosaurs are allowed to control City infrastructure policy for the next decade at least.

bclark's picture

Pushed hard

Our table pushed them very hard on Northland, basically saying, take the short-term improvement, crumple it up and throw it out (not even in the recycling).  Even the non-cyclists at our table said the protected intersection makes so much more sense.

My comment to the facilitators was, if the protected intersection is better (safer and comfortable for all ages and abilities), whereas the bike boxes leave cyclists precariously in traffic, are less clear to road users and are not as safe for young riders, are the professionals signing off on this really doing their duty to protect the public interest to the best of their abilities?

Personally I want safety to be the priority and to have an honest evaluation of the protected intersection as opposed to going with an inferior design.

I hope they hear loud and clear that this is what people want.

bclark's picture

The other thing about the

The other thing about the protected intersection is that it allowed for all required bicycle turn movements, whereas the bike boxes did not allow for some left turns.

Personally, I liked option 1 for 14th, I.e. with the separate raised cycle track and sidewalk.  Our facilitators did suggest signal timing would be more generous in option 2 for east-west travel, but the westbound approach into the channelised turn would be more awkward.  I'm also really concerned that pedestrian safety would be poorly served, particularly on the eastbound (downhill MUP), where cyclists could move very fast.  I can see potential for pedestrians to feel uncomfortable and/or cyclists sticking to the road in some cases if option 2 is chosen.

bclark's picture

Northmount Drive - Online Feedback & Additional Comments

Here is a quick update on feedback opportunities for Northmount Drive following the Options Evaluation Workshop on 18-Oct-2016.

The City looks to be currently tweeking the survey, but once it’s up, they say that online feedback can be given until November 7th, 2016 via

The overall concept proposal is to consolidate parking on one side of the street to make room for bicycle lanes.  In some areas, the City may do curb work to create additional parking space.

IMAGE: City of Calgary 18-Oct-2016 presentation.

Here are some more details on my impressions based on the concepts, dialogue at our table (attendees and facilitators) and conversation with City Staff.

With respect to cycling accommodation, much of the discussion related to intersection configuration.  Though all major intersections may have some changes, Northland Drive and 14th Street NW are the two big ones.

Northland Drive - The short-term option is to simply paint a couple bike boxes to enable left turns from southbound Northland to eastbound Northmount and westbound Northmount to southbound Northland.  Formal guidance is omitted for eastbound Northmount to northbound Northland (say if you are riding out of the mall and want to go north) and from northbound Northland to westbound Northmount (say if you want to access the mall).  The long-term option is a protected intersection that would allow all turn movements, though the concept needs minor revision (pointed out) to allow fluid southbound through movement on Northland.  This option potentially provides much clearer guidance for all road users and could add an additional layer of comfort and safety, particularly for younger riders are accessing schools along Northland and should be considered right away.  If the City can be pushed to deploy this concept here, it may also make it easier to use in future projects as well.

IMAGE: Photo of Northland intersection from City of Calgary handout.

14th Street NW - Two options were presented.  There were some comments by City representatives, that various elements of each may be incorporated into the final design.

  • Option 1 is dedicated raised cycle tracks spanning Cambrian-Northmount intersection to Carol Drive-Northmount intersection.  A big positive is that cyclists are separate from pedestrians, but challenges were pointed out with signal phasing in the westbound direction for cyclists and pedestrians at the intersection of 14th Street NW.  

  • Option 2 allocates more space to westbound through and northbound turning traffic.  On the up-side, cyclists have longer on the through-phase across 14th Street, while, on the down-side, a second phase crossing of the channelized turn is introduced.  The big challenge is that cyclists will be accommodated on multi-use pathways and, while there were comments about greater safety from a motorist-cyclists interaction perspective at intersections, there were important concerns raised about potential for decreased pedestrian and cyclist safety, particularly on the eastbound downhill from 14th Street to Cambrian Drive, as well as the possibility that a greater number of cyclists may bypass the new infrastructure (staying on the roadway) to avoid such conflicts.

IMAGE: Photo of 14th Street intersection from City of Calgary handout.

In addition to the above, Charleswood Drive is also a major intersection with a regional (boulevard) pathway crossing.  There was no formal guidance shown for travel between the bike lanes and pathway, but such guidance was identified as necessary, at least at our table.

Snow and Ice Control - Based on the varied lane configurations envisioned in the corridor as well as the potential for channelization of the cycling infrastructure (at Northland and at 14th Street), snow and ice control was identified as a major concern.  Specifics included;


  • Clearing parking lanes of snow to make sure parked cars are not encroaching on the bike lanes and forcing cyclists to ride in the door zone (negating safety) our out in the travel lanes (negating travel mode separation).

  • Clearing any pathway or channelized elements concurrent with the bike lanes so that all elements of the corridor function and cyclists do not find they can’t get through or have to enter the travel lanes to bypass poorly cleared portions of the bikeway.

DarrenB's picture

Intersection design

It is really unfortunate that the intersection designs were never posted online for comment. With any bike project, intersection design should ALWAYS be the focus, because the vast majority of bicycle collisions occur at intersections. Maybe I just missed these images on the City's website (?), but if not, I think this is a major oversight to not make these public. So thanks for including them here, Brent (now how do we comment on them to the City, I wonder?).

Something that strikes me as very odd is that the City's design to incorporate bike lanes violates their road design guidelines. A 1.2 m painted bike lane is too narrow for winter cities. Further, I see that the door-zone buffer on the other side of the street is a slight-of-hand: they just narrowed the width of the parking lane on the diagram and used that "recovered" space to indicate a bike lane buffer. But the buffer is necessarily in the door zone (if not the zone where a car's wheels will end up, especially in winter), and the width of the buffer isn't as much as the width of a car, so the bike lane is truly still a door-zone bike lane. That's sub-standard, too, IMO.

mikewarren's picture


Yes, the "buffering" is total crop (it's only 30 cm anyway, far narrower than a car door). Many people at my table asked for an actually-buffered lane (i.e. bike lane on the inside of the cars).

Snow clearing was brought up (by the City people) as a negative for this treatment -- but IMO this is a non-issue: if the bike lane is beside parked cars, it's just going to get the snow piled on it. If it's on the "inside" it's maybe not going to get plowed as often (i.e. because the City doesn't have enough "small" plows) but a) they have to solve this problem anyway, since the ONLY treatment they're using on greenfield dev is "sidewalk MUPs" (and there's a lot of existing suburban MUPs now) and b) it'll be better riding anyway most of the time (i.e. I'd rather ride on completely unplowed snow than a pile of slush and sand raked off the driving lane).

For painted lanes like 10th that are beside a curb, I *do* agree that those get snow-clearing in a way more timely fashion (e.g. vs if it was a cycle-track that required a specialized machine). Still, I've ridden down 10th with kids and it's *fucking terrifying*. So, that kind of infrastrcuture -- while great for me -- is *not* "8 to 80" or suitable for timid riders (e.g. I know several who *will* ride downtown on the cycletrack network,  but *won't* ride 10th or 5th).

Another point: I *would* ride with kids on the buffered-by-parking lane, but there's no way I (or kids) are going to be riding in a door-zone lane. I'll still get honked and yelled at, but won't ride those with kids.

The reason they're doing this is because this is a "cheap, opportunitiy" project and moving e.g. all the crubs (and/or utilities) probably blows that -- i.e. it "has" to stay on the existing road-width, and 9000 people are going to come and bitch about parking if they remove both sides.

bclark's picture


I'm guessing here, but I'd expect that all of the options will be in the online survey once it's up.  Good point on the bike lane width.  I recall seeing 1.2m as minimum space in some document along the way, but would have to look back to see where.  The 2008 Bicycle Policy and Needs report defines 1.0m as essential operating width, but 1.5m as the required operating space.  Certainly I would say 1.5m is necessary, especially in winter.

DarrenB's picture

The NACTO design guidelines,

The NACTO design guidelines, which the City tries to follow, states that 1.2 m is the minimum width under ideal conditions. In a winter city, obviously this doesn't cut the mustard, especially when you have a narrow (i.e., < 3.5 m) travel lane for cars adjacent. The total width of the bike lane and car lane on that side of the road is only 4.5 m, which (if memory serves me correctly) is the recommended distance at which (or below) bicyclists are not safe to share the lane side-by-side. So they built this lane exactly at the absolute minimums. I bet if you go and measure the actual road, it is a bit narrower than what the designs say, too (i.e., the 4.5 m widith is to the curb, not the lip of the gutter from which the roadway width is meant to be defined).

bclark's picture


That may be where I saw the 1.2m.  Tough having all these roads that are just a bit too narrow for bike lanes.  I wish they could do curb work, but it sounds like that would compromise the tree roots.  One of the workshop questions was whether a speed reduction would be supported, so maybe that was the way they were looking at to mitigate the width issue.  I think that I'd be okay using what they are proposing, but agree with Mike about how it doesn't meet the needs of "all ages and abilities".

mikewarren's picture


To clarify on the speed thing: they were actually asking about "harmonizing" the speed and suggested "40km/h for the whole way" (i.e. eliminate the playground zones).

mikewarren's picture

14th intersection

Brent, do you have a photo of the 14th intersection treatment options? I presumed they'd be online but evidently not :( and also didn't have a camera in any case.

Anyway, the "option 1" of 14th/Northmount+10th intersection does look fairly well-designed. Especially good: there's a "separated cycle thing" but it's *not* a sidewalk-MUP (it's right beside the sidewalk, but the cement sidewalk remains in this treatment). To me, this shows some good progress in their thinking/planning (i.e. not just "shove 'em all on the sidewalk!") There's also separate lights for bikes (which is good and bad, a little; the bad being that in the non-busy case you have to wait most of the "green for cars" light-cycle to get the bike advance green). They also show "green conflict paint" on the parking-lot accesses, and the whole design merges well with the painted lanes that continue east/west.

Also good: they get rid of the "channelized turns", i.e. the higher-speed exit off 10th/northmount to go north on northmount and the similar treatment coming out of the road to the west of 14th.

My personal impression is that the "option 2" design is probably the "current traffic-engineers' preferred design" and that they let some upity bike-friendly engineer design the other one. The option 2 features all the crap: sidewalk-MUP (i.e. you have to get on the sidewalk at the prior intersection as a bike), guarunteed 2-light-cycle wait for peds *and* cyclists to get across 10th/northmount (i.e. if you're heading N/S on the east side of 14th) and dual right-turn lanes onto 14th (moar better for traffic flow!).


For context (and this is just my impression/opinion -- take with appropriate salt) the "current senior traffic engineers" won't sign off on the "buffered intersection" designs (I was told this at the workshop), and are also the reason that 53rd took years to get approval for (this was hinted at in the workshop, and elsewhere),  because they evaluate a cycle track as a "parallel extra road". Also, my understanding is that downtown they claimed they'd have to put crosswalks for peds to cross the cycletracks, and therefore didn't want any "cycletrack buffered by parked cars" designs. So, that's what any young-ish bike-friendly engineers have to put up with -- trying to get their thing stamped by people who won't even think about colouring outside what they perceive are the lines. Sad.

So, if you don't want arguments, slap sidewalk-MUPs everywhere seems to be the path of least resistance (at least, looking at the last 10 years of Transport designs, especially e.g. greenfield dev with zero constraints like "road is X meters").

bclark's picture

Images are on the Survey

I just did the survey.  All of the required images are there.  It didn't look like there were any significant changes from what was given out in the meeting, though the 14th Street intersection appeared to have some additional annotations with respect to signal timing for turn movements.  Main comments I made; (1) go right to the long-term protected intersection for Northland (so as to safely, comfortably and efficiently facilitate all turn movements for bikes), (2) go with Option 1 14th Street, but main thing is, whatever option, have bike and pedestrian separation, not combined, (3) don't add too much parking as it feels more comfortable riding curbside than adjacent to parking (in the door zone) and (4) slow speeds to provide a greater level of safety and comfort, particularly where the bike lane is 1.2m.

Survey is at (I updated the link above as well).

There's a 250 character limit, so squeezing in a lot of detail, even if important, was tough (at least I found it tough).

Chealion's picture

Option 2 for 14th...

The more I look at Option 2, the worse it gets... Shunting bike traffic onto a MUP for a block to then have to wait for a separate signal to cross the channelized right turn to get to the proper spot to cross? Exact same issue presents for pedestrians; ends up increasing the crossing distance quite noticeably.

bclark's picture

Northmount Drive - Feedback Essential by Nov 7th

Monday November 7th is the final day to provide online feedback and SUPPORT (see below) for bicycle improvements on Northmount Drive so as to complete an important connection between northwest communities and the Centre City.

As we all know, cycling projects can receive a "rough ride" from certain segments of the population.  People may not understand the critical benefits bike infrastructure brings in making streets safer and more accessible for those cycling or wanting to cycle.  Even for a project like Northmount, where bike lanes have the opportunity to improve traffic flow by separating cyclists and motorists, as opposed to having bikes 'hold up' motorists when taking the lane or having motorists unsafely pass cyclists into oncoming traffic or on blind corners, there is still opposition (parking impacts notwithstanding).

If you live in or travel through the area, please take a few moments to fill out the survey, particularly the question asking your level of support for the project.  Even if you don't go to the area, consider that a number of the items are quite innovative, i.e. the potential for a protected intersection at Northland, and could open up the potential for deployment of similar designs elsewhere, so there is absolutely value in your filling out the survey.

CPat's picture

Well, it's official.  The

Well, it's official.  The wonderfully enlightened and progressive community association after spending an hour verbally attacking city staff invited to present at the ccommunity association's AGM is soliciting for volunteers to circulate their petition.


So glad to see that their main concern is people's safety, health, and economic resiliency.  But remember to still do their protected left turn lanes...  And this area is in Ward 4 next municipal election.  I get that "it's just that demographic" but is this another Lakeview? 


What can we do now to help ourselves in 2-3 years?


[snip rant about political corruption and robber barons -

bclark's picture

Northmount Drive Report

Hi all, noted that the City has published the report from the fall engagement.  Here's a quick snippet from the email notification they sent out along with a rendering of the plans;

"Phase 1, from Cambrian Drive N.W. to Carol Drive N.W., will consist of safety and operational improvements at the intersection. This will include adding a transit queue jump, a lengthened left-turn lane from westbound Northmount Drive N.W. to southbound 14 Street N.W. and a bicycle connection through the busy intersection. The intersection will also be re-paved to improve the surface quality of the roadway."

Phase 1 plan

IMAGE: City of Calgary

Here is the link to the report;

Here is the associated City New Blog entry for this project, plus Bowness Road and East-Central bikeways;

...and of course...a Herald article...

Crivak's picture

Is that the image?

Is that the image? What bicycle infrastructure in the intersection?

bclark's picture

From the City email

The image was taken from the email I received from the City.  I think it went to everyone on their distribution list for the project.  The original two concepts they presented were with either cycle tracks or multiuse pathways.  Neither was advanced.  

This design is simply a continuation of the existing bike lanes on Cambrian Drive (10th Street) through the intersection onto Northmount.  There's no plan for physical separation, but they are configuring the intersections immediately west (Carol Drive) and east (Cambrian Drive) so as to remove the turn channels.

Hope that helps.

mikewarren's picture

"maintainence" and "turn pressure"

I have been told by the City (in response to an SR) that these aren't going to be cycletracks because Transport wouldn't "sign off on maintainence" of actual cycle-tracks and they said the "turn pressure would be too high" to have separated infrastructure.

Fun fact: the Complete Streets guide specifies that the Director of Transportation Planning must provide a written statement whenever they build a new project or retrofit that can't meet the Complete Street standards. I have not seen such a thing for this project (nor any other) of course :(

Crivak's picture

To be fair even our cycle

To be fair even our cycle tracks don't extend into the intersection. My comment was tongue in cheek because everything bike related stops on the intersection. Then begins again on the other side. Sorry fellas :)

Next's picture

instead of theorythizing

instead of theorythizing about with of road, 

why not to redo sidewalk, asphalt it, paint yellow line .

Simplest way to accomodate ciclists ,

no way I am going to ride on that narrow street , safest place  -   SIDEWALK. 

winterrider's picture

Sidewalks are dangerous

Drivers don't notice you on sidewalks and you're more likely to get run over everytime you have to cross a vehicular lane because they didn't see you.

The design in the image above has a lane for cyclists, and gives lots of space and visibility where their paths must cross (vehicles turning right vs cyclists going straight).

I like it for mature cyclists. Wouldn't work very well for kids though. I'll take my kids on the cycle tracks downtown, but I wouldn't take them on any of the city's unprotected lanes.

DarrenB's picture

Sidewalks can be dangerous

There is strong consensus among safe cycling researchers, educators, and advocates that cycling on the sidewalk is bad practice, largely because of the intense dangers associated with negotiating intersections. Most cycling injuries and deaths associated with vehicle collisions occur at intersections, so the concern is warranted. The greater the speed of the cyclist, the greater the danger, also - so while cycling on a sidewalk might be attractive to recreational cyclists going short distances at low speeds, it can be a very dangerous activity for commuter cyclists who inevitably move faster and encounter numerous intersections along their route.

Next's picture

drivers dont notice me on the

drivers dont notice me on the sidwalk? 

so they dont notice pedestrians also -  there is no logic in your reasoning.


City alraedy painted YELLOW line on many sidewalks and is it still sidewalk , it is NOT just sidewalk , what you say city deosn t   know what it is doing?

we can say city try legalize sidewalk for bicycle riding by painting yellow line and you are saying they dont know what they are doing?

Next's picture

I dont care about space

I dont care about space/narrow strip painted on asphalt for bicycles, if there is  NO physical barrier for car to hit you, right?

Sidewalk not safe? And 2 cars and bicycle side by side on two line is safe??????? how come??

there simply NO ROOM for you .

Sidewalk is simply the best seperation from cars especially with strip of grass between you and road.

Of course I ride slower on sidewalks that is only logical.

Of course you have a right to be on street.


what about your right if you are dead or seriously injured?

I see riders in heavy trafic on 11St SE every working day after 4:00 PM riding side by side with 2 cars - crazy.


bclark's picture

The Sidewalk Issue

I think one of the challenges, maybe pointed out, is that sidewalks aren't really designed for the mobility envelope of cyclists, specifically where it comes to travel speed and particularly at intersections.

Maybe drivers will notice a cyclist on the sidewalk and maybe they won't.  If they do, they may slow down if they are turning across the cyclists path at an intersection or they may not, as there seems to be a real lack of understanding (or misapplication of courtesy) that leads to inconsistency (designaged boulevard  multi-use pathways are not exempt from this occurence either).  If they don't notice, then they have very little time to react when the cyclist "suddenly appears" and, depending on their reaction, there could be conflict.

The other challenge is at driveways and alley entrances.  What I've seen is that, in many instances a sidewalk, or pathway, is crossed by an alley, high fences or vegetation often limit sight lines so that any cyclist travelling on the sidewalk, or pathway, could easily be in a collision situation where a motorist pulls out suddenly into the cyclists travel path.  

Yes, experienced riders may anticipate such situations and slow down at such locations, but they will also probably ask themselves, 'why even bother riding the sidewalk' and stick to the road, propagating the same challenges the City is trying to solve with proper bike infrastructure.  Inexperienced cyclists, on the other hand, may try using the sidewalk, believing it to be safer, when in reality there may be a much higher risk that they aren't actively mitigating.

The other thing, that suggesting riding on the sidewalk totally ignores, is the inherent conflicts that arise with pedestrians.  Pedestrians and cyclists have totally different operating envelopes and user expectations.  Putting cyclists on a narrow sidewalk with pedestrians has safety and comfort challenges for each group.  This is even evident on busy shared sections of multi-use pathway along the Bow River (observe what happens with pedestrians and cyclist interaction along Memorial Drive by Crowchild during rush hour).

I'm not saying off-street cycling accommodation can't work, it just needs to be designed for the operating envelope of cyclists.

Next's picture

of course sidwalk riding is

of course sidwalk riding is SLOW riding but away from cars and I am willing to move slower from A to B but away from cars.

I ride streets but not in rush hours like some crazy riders, no matter what you paint on asphalt if there is NO physical seperation like curb or concrete something nothing will prevent car to hit you.

Even with sidewalk alley, paking exits thee is still safer for me not to be on street in rush hour.

You still keep silent about city painting yellow lines on sidewalks .

There are hole streaches of sidwaks with no any bushes or blind corners or alleyes and city choose such sidewalks to redisgnate by painting YELLOW LINE them

did you not noticed it in Calgary??? 

mikewarren's picture

sidewalks suck

"Just ride on the sidewalk" is not a solution for cyclist mobility (whether that sidewalk is cement or asphalt, with or without yellow line).

Statistically, it's way more dangerous -- intersections are where most urban accidents for bikes occur, and sidewalks make cyclists way harder to see.

It is also scary for pedestrians. I'm not sure about statistics for cyclist/pedestrian collisions, but of course there's zero chance of that if there aren't any cyclists on the sidewalk.

More esoteric, but in my mind this trend of "sidewalk MUPs everywhere" de-ligitimizes cycling as a "real" transportation choice. Relegating everyone to sidewalks simply isn't tenable when we reach 10% or 20% mode-share. Also, practically speaking: all MUPs have a blanket 20km/h limit (or 10km/h in many zones) which is totally absurd and impractical for any long-ish distance riding. Bikes can easily reach 40+km/h on the flats and much more if there's a downhill.

Next's picture

Are you kidding me? conflicts

Are you kidding me? conflicts with pedestrians?

99% of the time they give me room I say thank you , what conflict?

do you ride sidewalks, try it.

of course I dont ride sidewalks in downtown that is obvious.

other than that hardly any pedestrians on sidewalks on my route, do you not see it?

bclark's picture

My comment

I think my comment addressed all of your points.  If you feel safer riding on the sidewalk, are happy to travel at a slower speed (pedestrian speed when passing pedestrians) and are able to ride courteously to pedestrians, including anticipating any sudden/unexpected movements on their part, then that's your choice.  

Yes, there are some situations where I do ride on sidewalks, but no, I do not think simply painting a yellow line is sufficient as a broad solution to accommodating bicycle travel.  I prefer bike boulevards, bike lanes and cycle tracks with well-designed multiuse pathways in certain circumstances.


Next's picture

I agree , it is just cheap

I agree , it is just cheap way to convert streaches of sidewalks tO MUP.

Placing concrete barriers/curbs to seperate bike from car traffic cost crazy money like downtown projects have shown.

Again  -  two cars nad bicycle side by side on 2 -line street is dangerous to me, because many drivers choose to squize beween rather than change lne or partially change line.

Being on sidewalk seperated by strip of grass is much ,much safer but slow of course.   

bclark's picture


Certainly simple painted bike lanes on a busy street going to have limited appeal to entice anyone uncomfortable riding in traffic to take to the streets.  I'll ride with my family on bike lanes on less busy streets, like 53rd Street NW, but something like the bike lanes on Cambrian Drive NW (adjacent to parking on both sides) are generally a "no go" for family trips.  Northmount would fall somewhere between those two...for me at least.

mikewarren's picture

barriers are cheap

As far as transportation projects go, $6M for an *entire* downtown cycletrack network is peanuts. A moderate interchange alone costs more than $40M.

winterrider's picture

You mean 3/4ths

We only got 3 out of 4 tracks, Macleod trail is still missing.

mikewarren's picture


Fair point.

I just mean that it's peanuts compared to the transportation budget.

CPat's picture

Floating Bus stop at e/b bus queue jump lane

Please advocate for a floating bus stop here instead of squeezing the cyclists between the buses (at least the 72 turns left to go up the hill sandwiching you between the bus and cars to your left...unsafe).  Where's the back end of the bus going to swing/track too while they turn left across two lanes?  And they're even deflecting the cyclists left around the bus stopping area!  This is not nearly as critical at the other three bus stops since they are set back from the stop lines/intersections.  Come on design engineers, this requires too much "perfect behaviour."  Extend the bus apron out the width of the sidewalk and make it a floating bus stop.

Put the cyclists on the outside of the bus like they did in Victoria;


/e-mailed councillors

mikewarren's picture


It pains me quite a bit to even write this, but an honest question: would lawsuits against the City's transportation department from injured cyclists help *ahem* change their "risk aversion" calculus from "don't sign off on anything that's not in the 30-year-old streets manual" to "dang, maybe we really do need to consider the safety of all"?

Fuzz's picture

I tried...

I've been trying to get a "no left on red" sign on the 7th st cycle track at 5th ave for years.  In my most recent one I threatened to hold the city responsible should I or someone else get injured here, as I have almost been left hooked several times.  The result?  It's the one 311 request I've made that has never been closed.  Opened on Feb 3rd.  No action.  I'm sure they will try to deny they saw it by not touching it.  Fortunatly I have previous ones where they said what they have is good enough.

DarrenB's picture

311 it

You can actually put in a complaint via 311 that a previous 311 request was not addressed (i.e., still open). I have used this approach in the past and it seems to have elevated the request. It is also VERY helpful if you report any collisions or near collisions via 311 (each and every time). If the statistics build up, it actually gives the city planners ammunition to request resources to fix the problem. It also excludes the possibilty that the City can claim it was unaware of the problem, should someone ever be involved in a collision and file a lawsuit.

Crivak's picture

This is the reason why I

This is the reason why I continue to report issues if they are still there 3 days later, and repeat until it is no longer an issue. Obviously not "opinion" based stuff of course. 

bclark's picture

Herald - Confluence Podcast

An interesting discussion on cycling as tied to the Northmount Drive project. Personally I think that off-street bicycle pathways along Northmount would be great if they could be done in a manner that really enables safe and efficient bike travel, including good crossings at intersections. Challenge is it would probably be very expensive and the trees likely would preclude it being possible.

mikewarren's picture

between the lines

An "off-street bike pathway" along Northmount would mean: sidewalk MUP.

This would be absolutely terrible, IMO. The places these kinds of pathways can sometimes work well are along roads that don't have intersections every 150m (with alleys as a "bonus" on top of that). Northmount Dr is the exact *worst* place to do this. Good places would be roads like Crowchild, Stoney Trail, etc. Northmount is the perfect place for a proper bike lane (cheap) or a real cycletrack if more money is available.

Northmount *used* to have a dedicated bus lane on the south side years ago, so there's absolutely no excuse for not having this back (in the form of bike lanes).

bclark's picture

Northmount - New Curb Extensions

Please be aware, the City is in the process (or has likely now completed the process) of placing temporary-style curb extensions along Northmount Drive.

The placement, based on my observation, will create additional points where cyclists have to move into (or closer to at minimum) the travel lane.

I’ve ridden this way a number of time since the extensions have been placed and they have not yet created any problems for me. Having said that, this was all prior to school going back in and traffic has been pretty light, so I’ll be paying pretty close attention to what happens in the next while as traffic picks up.


Definitely would be interested to hear what other people’s experiences/impressions are.

gp4000's picture

I agree

that these type extensions 'force' a cyclist further into the travel lane. Athough I guess it's no different from having to go around a parked car. My main concern with the 'improvements' on Northmount is the separated lane just East of 14th St (just after the bus stop). Driving through that bend, at least the way it's aligned presently, seems to put my car periously close to where a cyclist would be exiting from the protected lane. I haven't ridden it yet so I'm not sure if this will be the case. I just think the barrier should have been extended more through that curve/bend in the road. We'll see.

mikewarren's picture

Do not like

"In general" all curb-extensions do is mean there's a 100% chance of having to "take the lane". When they have these every block if there's even a couple of cars parked, you end up "in the lane" the whole time.

A better way would be to make an actual island with a sort of track between it and the curb that one could ride. Perhaps one could even call it a "cycle-track". A real shame they're not building proper cycling infrastructure here :(

Has anyone engaged with the City regarding Roads' maintainence veto of the planned cycletrack at 14th? A 311 call resulted in me being told that they couldn't do the plan they had in the engagement sessions because Roads said they "couldn't maintain" a cycletrack (which is obviously bullshit, since they're doing fine downtown).

mikewarren's picture

bad implementation

These would be much better as a "pedestrian island" with something ridable on the inside -- that is, so that cyclists *don't* have to be forced into traffic. Of course, since the City's Roads department wouldn't allow the "cycletrack" design to be build at the 14th intersection ("because maintainence hard") they'll probably make the same lame excuse for proper accomodation at these islands :(

xcrider's picture

Bad Ideas

It is a shame that the people that come up with the design and implimentation of these improvements don't actually ride bikes or they would see the issues with narrowing the streets and creating pinch points. Bowness Rd will be the same once it is complete.

winterrider's picture

Give Bowness a chance

I was chatting with some of the bike riding staff at Bow Cycle and they have bought in to the improvements. I know they're cutting back some of the bump outs so I think we should wait until they're finished before passing judgement.

xcrider's picture

Mary"s Store Corner

They have tightened up the corn in front Of Mary"s to the point there is no exit room in the event of any one of Calgary's overly skilled drivers swinging wide. I'm just saying that bike infrastructure seems to be designed by people that don't ride and have ideas about what works.


DarrenB's picture

Copenhagen left!

But they are also installing a "Copenhagen left" lane for cyclists to make the turn. So if you are comfortable cycling in traffic, you can take the lane and turn left as a vehicle, and if not, you can use the "Copenhagen left" (City calls it a buffered, jug-handle left-turn island) to make a left turn separate from the car traffic.

And to be fair, it was never legal previously to make a dual left-turn going westbound at that intersection to begin with (in regards to your comment about wide-turning cars). I think this is a good improvement.

winterrider's picture

Double left deadly

I have never taken that corner without taking the lane first. I had seen (but forgotten, so thanks for reminding us Darren) that they were putting in a Copenhagen Left turn there for those not wanting to take the lane.

Personally I really like this as it will force anyone not willing to take the lane to actually consider how to navigate this corner safely.

Crivak's picture

I'm not sold either. That was

I'm not sold either. That was my observation when I rode through during construction a few weeks ago.  I would've preferred a buffered island to allow cars and  bikes to turn at the same time without either being impeded and discouraging wide turns. It seems like an extraneous place for a copenhagen left. Not to mention the lanes suddenly disappearing along main street with no great way to add them in the future due to the new curbs with finagling.

winterrider's picture

Cars can go straight

The cogenhagen left is more about the odd car that goes straight than about wide turners.

I used to think it was only a matter of time before some inattentive driver drove straight on through a turning cyclist who didn't realize that some cars go straight and turned at the last moment without warning to the car.

Crivak's picture

Fair point. In the video I

Fair point. In the video I provided of the area there actually is a car that goes straight. I suppose the area just seems large enough to me to provide a turning buffer here that would provide line of sight on the turn regardless. The photo provided on the city of calgary page looks a lot tighter than it is so I guess we'll see how it turns out. Pun unintended...