The underutilized, one-way transit/bike lane that runs along Calgary Trail
In the wake of the tragedy that took Isaak Kornelsen's life recently, I'm wondering: what now? I'd like to see the cycling community present a vision of a safe, bikable Whyte Avenue corridor to the city.
I am writing a three-part series on approaches to bike infrastructure that the city could take:
- a separated bike path right on Whyte Avenue
- the "tempting alternative routes" approach: two off-Whyte bike routes to pull cyclists away from the Avenue
- A North-South Connector Along Calgary Trail
A North-South Connector Along Calgary Trail
In addition to east-west running bike paths north and south of Whyte Avenue, another piece of the puzzle that could greatly affect the safety and comfort of bikes in the area would be a bike-friendly way to access the businesses along Calgary Trail.
It just so happens that there is a low-hanging fruit: a piece of transportation infrastructure that is underutilized, just waiting to be converted into a two-way separated bike path.
Running parallel to Calgary Trail, from Saskatchewan Drive to 75 Avenue, there is a one-way northbound street. Between 75 Avenue and Whyte Avenue, only bikes, busses and taxis are allowed on it.
My kids and I feel relief every time we start heading north on this street. It's a great resource for cyclists heading northbound.
But how exactly does a cyclist get from north of Whyte to Save-On Foods, United Cycle, or Doan's Vietnamese Restaurant? The options are to ride on the very hairy Calgary Trail, to walk one's bike a couple of blocks on the sidewalk to the (dangerous) Shopper's Drug Mart parking lot, or to ride west an extra block to 104 Street (a congested, narrow street).
I think that a key piece of the Whyte Avenue bike puzzle would be to make this one-way transit/bike street into a two-way dedicated bike path.
The political cost would be minimal. Changes would include:
- Removing taxis from the road. I don't think this would be a big deal. Prime time for cabbies is in the dead of night, when the area isn't nearly as congested as during the day.
- Removing one bus route from the road. Okay, this one is a bit bigger of a deal. However, there's no reason that the #52 bus can't take Gateway Boulevard instead.
- Changing the lights to make cyclist safe from left-turning vehicles at the intersections of 83rd, 82nd, 81st, 80th, 78th and 76th Avenues. This probably wouldn't upset people too much. They may have to wait a few more moments to turn left, but no biggie.
- Removing the option to turn left (possibly) at 79th Ave and 77th Ave. The howling-with-rage motorist demographic kicks in a bit stronger here. However, riding through those intersections on a weekly basis for the past few years gives me the impression that they are not that heavily used (79th anyway, I'm not so sure about 77th).
In conjunction with excellent bike routes north and south of Whyte Avenue, I think that this north-south bike resource would entice many more cyclist to the area (more bikes = safer bikes), and make the cycling experience safer and more comfortable for cyclist riding south to the important commercial area that is anchored by Save-On Foods at 78th Avenue and Calgary Trail.