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Little change to address Max Bell / Barlow LRT park and ride safety, says community leader

Despite driving past it daily, Larry Leach said he can’t really point to any upgrades at the Barlow / Max Bell park and ride lot in east Calgary.

Last year, after calls from the community for improved safety, the city promised upgrades to the area. Leach had been part of that community action to press the city into improved lighting, signage and general appeal, but he said not much has changed.

“I drive by it every day,” said Leach, the past president of the Crossroads Community Association and current executive director of 12 Community Safety Initiative.

“There’s nothing I can point to and say, ‘see, that’s great.’”

The city acknowledged some of the problems with the parking lots and the area councillor, Ray Jones, presented the city with seven questions during a January 2019 council meeting.

Lighting, signage, barriers have been upgrades

Stephen Tauro with Calgary Transit said upgrades have been made to the area. He said lighting in the bus loop and the parking has been improved, barriers have been added to prevent pedestrians from crossing the adjacent private property and to provide safer protection from traffic areas.

Signage was also added, both to remind foot traffic of the private property and to show the preferred pathway in the area to get through the park and ride and to the Barlow / Max Bell station. The cost of the upgrades was $50,000, Tauro said, and paid for through the city’s infrastructure maintenance budget.

He added that encouraging the users to follow the preferred pathway also ensures a higher degree of safety as the sidewalks and pathways are cleared in the area during winter.

What’s been a thorn in the side of the city is that the desire line for pedestrians to reach the park and ride and make their way to the station is across the private land. There’s little in terms of lighting in the area.

“Because that area is private property, it’s up to the landowner. So, we can only we can only make improvements to the area that we had an agreement for,” Tauro said.

In a past LiveWire Calgary article, the landowner acknowledged no formal agreement between his group and the city, but did say it’s being used for the bus loop and ad-hoc parking. He said that’s likely why safety upgrades had “fallen through the cracks.”

Tauro said discussions with the landowner on potential improvements were ongoing.

Max Bell station has improved, but the area around it hasn’t

Leach said he hasn’t noticed any new signage – and if there is, it’s not noticeable. He said users enter through a rusted, rickety fence.

The lighting upgrades are negligible and don’t address the desire line. He understands the situation with the landowner, but he believes the riders in his area deserve the same as others near park and rides in other areas of the city.

“The people in Crossroads still would like to see a train station that they feel safe in and that they’re proud to call their own, and we don’t have that,” he said.

Tauro said Calgary Transit hasn’t received any formal complaints about safety in the area since the upgrades were made.

Leach said he hasn’t been in contact with Calgary Transit since making the initial inquiry. They followed up to provide proposed changes, but no timeline. His response at the time was that those changes weren’t good enough.

He wasn’t informed of the recent changes or told anything had been done. While the station itself has been improved, the park and ride still lags well behind.

He said it’s a deterrent to people using transit, especially after dark.

“If you made it more inviting, I believe ridership would increase,” Leach said.