12th Avenue lanes may be possible without sacrificing parking, car lanes

The 10th Avenue S. bike lane will be scrapped when the 12th Avenue S. cycle track is launched next summer, city council decided.

The city will eliminate the 10th Avenue S. rush-hour bike lane once downtown Calgary’s barrier-separated cycling lane launches as a one-year trial next July.

Council voted Monday to scrap the painted lane on 10th Avenue that was only for westbound traffic during the weekday afternoon rush hours — and still welcomed parked cars at other hours. It’s long been the busiest Beltline route for bike commuters, but that will almost certainly change when the cycle track comes in; it will be flanked by the much-debated “cycle tracks” two blocks south on 12th Avenue, and two blocks to its north.

Not only did some councillors bemoan giving cyclists special space on both Beltline avenues, but many avid cyclists also disliked 10th Avenue’s part-time bike lane because it confused motorists often parked in it when they shouldn’t.

Coun. Evan Woolley had voiced tentative support for removing the 10th Avenue bike-only lane to compensate for losses to car space on 12th. Now, however, he’s hailing city transportation engineers’ efforts to fit the cycle track along 12th Avenue without having to sacrifice any of the four travel or parking lanes.

“The lanes right now are actually really wide, quite wide by any city standards,” Woolley said. “And so we’re looking at taking a small piece of those lanes, narrowing them up.”

Planners had expected to lose 130 parking spaces by giving a lane on 12th to cyclists. Squeezing bike lanes within the existing lanes would greatly cut those losses, Woolley said.

This could possibly only work on the west side of the proposed cycle track, which will extend from 11th Street S.W. to 4th Street S.E., said Don Mulligan, transportation planning director. It this happened, those lanes would be “very narrow,” similar to downtown’s 4th, 5th and 6th avenues.

“It will be a big win if we can do it,” Mulligan said.

On several blocks of 12th Avenue, the lanes are too narrow to be shrunk further for bike space, the director added.

The east-west Beltline cycle track would be successful if it handles 900 cyclists a day during the one-year trial program, according to performance targets that council approved Monday. The city estimates 160 daily riders on that route, though some of the increase would be current riders moving over.

The city will do more exhaustive counts this fall in preparation for the major investment in on-street bike routes.

Traffic and parking lanes will be removed on 5th Street, 8th Avenue and 9th Avenue S.E. as part of the downtown bike trial, which would be made permanent if it meets the new ridership, safety and user satisfaction targets.




Photograph by: Colleen De Neve, Calgary Herald

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