Calgary cycling advocate Kevin Schlauch recalls his Microsoft Paint sketches for a multi-use pathway system along 42 Avenue SE from four years ago.
After pedalling uphill to see the project move forward, gaining the support of area businesses along the way, new designs are now ready for tender with construction expected this year.
“I tried to focus on keeping it as simple as cheap as possible because I thought there’d be no other way this would ever get any attention,” said Schlauch of his original design.
“This pretty much checks all the boxes.”
New designs were put forward March 6 for the 42 Avenue multi-use pathway project, which stretches from Blackfoot Trail SE, right across Macleod Trail SE.
It’s part of an estimated $5.5 million project that completes several pathway connections in the transportation corridor.
Among the changes, there will be an improved connection with the 39 Avenue LRT station, including a new traffic signal that provides a safer crossing at 42 Avenue at 1 Street SE. The plans also call for a three-metre pathway on both the north and south sides (in certain areas).
Schlauch said the designs are better than he envisioned and provide for much safer passage along 42 Avenue SE for pedestrians and cyclists. It’s a stretch of road where he’s had several close calls.
“People who want to be able to bike to work in the area now can. That’s going to take cars off the road, which should improve traffic flow for drivers,” Schlauch said, noting that now there’s a clear separation between vehicles and other commuters.
“Now you can safely bike, as well, on a passage that’s going to be maintained in the winter, and separated, too, from car traffic.”
Better for Manchester, Highfield businesses
Erica O’Gorman, co-owner of Annex Ales, said they first saw Schlauch’s push for better, safer transportation in the area roughly two years ago.
“We just reached out and said, ‘hey, we’re interested in improving the infrastructure on first street and 42,” O’Gorman said.
She said the area’s dimly lit and the infrastructure wasn’t up to snuff. This new work is going to be a big boon for businesses in the area.
“I think people want to feel safe when accessing businesses,” she said.
“For us, we can’t have kind of the street appeal of Inglewood or 17th Avenue and so if there’s infrastructure in place, it really benefits businesses.”
It’s not just the foot traffic though, employees from a variety of businesses in the area rely on transit and other modes of travel to get to the area.
“There’s plenty of businesses in the industrial park that may not see people coming through their doors but have employees who need to access transit and or get to work safely by foot or by bike,” O’Gorman said.
“And so that’s a huge thing for us as well. Our employees also like to commute by bike in the summer, and with the pathway, it’ll just make it more accessible for them as well.”