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Removal of time restriction sought for bikes aboard Calgary Transit CTrains

Cyclists in Calgary may be able to access Calgary Transit CTrains without the barrier of time, if an upcoming notice of motion is approved.

Ward 2 Coun. Jennifer Wyness is putting forward a notice of motion at Tuesday’s executive committee meeting that asks for the creation of a temporary pilot program that would allow any time bike boarding on the LRT.

Currently, bikes are prohibited on CTrains during the week from 6:30 – 9 a.m. and then from 3 to 6 p.m. They are allowed on weekends and holidays. Folding bikes are allowed on transit, folded and in a case or bag.

“Why have a barrier on a transit system that we keep talking about needing ridership? Let’s remove the barrier and build our ridership,” Wyness told LiveWire Calgary.

Wyness’s notice of motion suggests a pilot over the summer. Ridership would be in its post-pandemic rebound, but also at a time when cyclists wouldn’t contend with post-secondary or K-12 students.

“I just want to get it started. I want us to start experiencing what bikes on transit all the time feels like and continue it from there,” she said.

According to the notice of motion, 13 per cent of transit riders in a 2015 survey said they were prevented from using their ideal mode of travel due to pedestrian and cycling barriers.

It also said that other cities are removing time restrictions for cyclists on transit.

Extra barrier could come down

Molli Bennett, president of the board of directors for Bike Calgary, said it’s inconvenient for cyclists to work around prime transit hours.

“We know that if we don’t make things the most easy and convenient choice for folks that that creates barriers,” Bennett said.

Particularly over the past two years, folks are burnt out. They’re tired, and worrying about when they have to board transit with their bikes is an impediment, she said.

One big plus is having a bike for multi-modal transport increases the distance people can travel. They can bike to the station and then have their bike where they end their CTrain trip.  

“The other thing is that bicycle theft is a problem in Calgary and folks don’t always feel safe locking their bike up at train stations,” Bennett said.

“This allows them to keep their bike with them and address that safety concern.”

Bennett believes there would be high uptake among the committed cycling community. But it could help those teetering on the fence around regular bike use for their commute.

“I think what’s very exciting, is the folks that might be on that edge of making that decision, I think it will be important,” she said.

Awareness and cooperation

Part of Wyness’s motion addresses the need for a public awareness campaign to promote the idea for riders.

But both she and Bennett are aware of potential conflicts that could arise.  One of the reasons Calgary Transit has shied from allowing bikes during peak CTrain travel times is the obstruction and inconvenience of having bikes on crowded trains.

Wyness said it might require retooling cars to make space for cyclists.

“I think the way to make this successful is through collaboration and listening to constituents that are on it,” she said.

Bennett said it’s a bit of a shift in mindset.

“That’s a piece of education and the mindset change of kindness and compassion the same way we would you would treat someone who has a grocery cart, or a stroller or something else that’s large on the train,” she said.  

“Of course it can be an inconvenience. And when the trains are crowded, it’s a little bit awkward. But if we work together to make space for each other, communicate and treat each other with compassion, I think we can find a way to work together and make that work for everybody who’s on the train.”

The motion will appear before committee on its technical merit only. If it’s endorsed, it would move to the next full meeting of council for debate and potential approval.