Skip to Content
Streetsblog Chicago home
Streetsblog Chicago home
Log In
Bicycling

The Calgary Model: Connect Protected Bike Lanes Fast, Watch Riders Pour In

calgary fast facts
Graphic: City of Calgary. Click to enlarge.
false
pfb logo 100x22
false

Michael Andersen blogs for The Green Lane Project, a PeopleForBikes program that helps U.S. cities build better bike lanes to create low-stress streets.

Last week, we shared a new report about the best practices for cities that want to make faster, cheaper changes to their streets.

Today, let's take a moment to recognize the North American city that has used these tools better than any other to rapidly improve its bike infrastructure.

The city is Calgary, Alberta. The secret is that it piloted a connected downtown network of low-stress bike routes all at once.

calgary map 570
Downtown Calgary. Images: City of Calgary.
false

As the graphic at the top of the post shows, the effects have been large and almost immediate. Weekday bike counts on the affected corridors soared 95 percent in September 2015, three months after the network opened, compared to the year before. The proportion of those riders who were female jumped from 20 percent to 27 percent, and younger people are reportedly riding downtown more, too.

"It seems like we see a ton of families out riding the tracks," said Tom Thivener, projects coordinator in the livable streets division of Calgary's transportation planning department.

The all-at-once approach to the project was proposed by Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi.

As spring creeps back to the Canadian prairie, it'll be worth watching to see if those numbers keep growing. Skyrise Cities reported last week that the pilot project lasts through December 2016.

Maybe most heartening: Calgarians say they like the projects. Despite a very close city council vote to create the network, once the public saw it in action, 64 percent decided they approve.

8th Avenue SW.

That's the power of a connected low-stress biking network: Once people can easily get to many different locations on a bike, bike lanes stop being an abstract concept ("CARS VS BIKES") and start being a functional, practical system.

Most cities are a long way from having a "minimum grid" of low-stress bikeways, as some people like to call it. That's why a quick-build program, which rethinks bureaucratic procedures to make transportation projects faster, cheaper, and more flexible, can be so useful.

You can follow The Green Lane Project on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook or sign up for its weekly news digest about protected bike lanes.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog Chicago

We are all in an underperforming Chicagoland transit network. But some of us are looking at the Star:Line.

According to Star:Line Chicago, "The 2034sight Plan is an ambitious — and achievable — ten-year framework to lay the groundwork to modernize Chicagoland’s existing local passenger rail system."

July 19, 2024

A semi driver fatally struck a person walking on Lower Wacker Drive. Did a locked gate contribute to the crash?

The victim may have been walking in the street because a gate limiting pedestrian access on the south side of Wacker was locked at the time.

July 19, 2024

This is Grand! CDOT cuts ribbon on new protected bike lanes on a key West Side diagonal street

The project also has lots of other nifty Complete Streets features, like raised crosswalks, bus islands, and the conversion of a dangerous slip lane to a new plaza.

July 18, 2024
See all posts