Winter bike commuters in South East Calgary received an early Christmas present this week.
The City of Calgary quietly unveiled the newest pathway in their 5A accessibility plan on Wednesday. The Bow River pathway extension connects Ogden Road to Heritage Drive along the river.
The pathway is also part of what Councillor Gian-Carlo Carra and the Ward 9 Dream Network calls the Great Trail Network.
That series of paths connects inner city commuters to downtown, and Calgarians in Ward 9 to the Rotary Mattamy Greenway.
“It’s a huge connection on the dream network, and I am very pleased that it’s been delivered,” said Carra.
The pathway doesn’t yet show up on the City’s official map of pathways. But, it’s open and plowed, ready for Calgarians to use.
Extending a world class pathway system
Carra said that this link adds real value to the city’s already extensive, and extensively used, pathway system for bike commuters.
“I think as we see the rise of electric bikes and stuff like that, it’s gonna be even more heavily used,” he said.
He said that this stretch now allows bike riders to avoid having to travel up to Lynnwood Ridge before returning to the Bow River valley.
“This gives you a level flat, more straight line work around—so it’s going to even more unlock the ability to commute out of the south into into the downtown by bike,” he said.
The pathway extension now makes it possible for commuters in south 194 Avenue SE to have a direct, pathway-only ride through the river basin to downtown Calgary.
“It is great because it is taking this amazing asset that we share as Calgarians, and it is making it more complete,” he said.
“And it’s also providing some very practical connections for people who are choosing more and more to get around this big giant city by bike.”
Reaction by the Calgary bike community has been positive. Already bike riders are showing up on Strava’s bike usage heatmap.
Carra laughed as he said “as you can see, there’s quite a bit of social media chatter.”
Flood mitigation made pathway possible
The creation of the pathway extension was part of the overall flood mitigation done from Bonnybrook to Heritage Drive.
Carra said that he made the pitch to city council to include the costs of the extension as part of the overall work done at the Bonnybrook waste water treatment plant.
“We’re spending hundreds of millions of dollars expanding the waste water treatment capacity running right along the river, and we should really tie in part of the project costs for multi use paths,” he said.
“I was very pleased when the flood mitigation work that was required brought everyone together, and they delivered the southern section.”
The project was completed in two phases. The southern section near Heritage Drive was completed first. The northern section near Odgen Road was done second.