The backbone of Calgary’s high score in a recent North American ranking of bike-friendly cities is built on the city’s extensive multi-use pathway network, said one city councillor.
The sixth annual PeopleForBikes city ratings had Calgary ranked fifth in the large city (300,000+ population). In all, it ranked 21 out of 1105 total cities.
Calgary scored a 58 out of 100, which is made up of a bicycle network analysis (80 per cent) and a community survey score. There are six main factors they look at in each network score: Safe speeds, protected bike lanes, road diets, intersections, network connections and data.
Though Calgary’s score is well above average, it did drop one point from last year.
Still, Ward 9 Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra, who has been a big supporter of the city’s cycling strategy, said this score is reflective of the work done to improve active transportation in Calgary.
“In the last 10 years, we’ve moved from thinking about our bike path system as a recreational amenity to a mobility option,” he said.
“We’ve started to plug it into the neighbourhoods, the downtown and across city streets. I don’t think we’d be anywhere near the top of that ranking if we didn’t have the pathway system as that skeletal system.”
Calgary maintains more than 1,000 kilometres of pathways and 96 kilometres of trails.
Carra said it’s gratifying to see Calgary score as well as it did. He was a bit surprised, too.
“For all the work that we have ahead of us, and that we’ve identified we need to do to get to our best possible future, never underestimate how well we benchmark against other places,” Carra said.
Safety aspect still needs work: Report
Calgary’s lowest score came from the community side of the PeopleForBikes survey. The city scored 41 in safety – how safe people feel riding a bike in the city.
One need only look at social media in Calgary to see some of the challenges cyclists have with safe traveling. Calgary has growing stretches of separated bike lanes. The lack of them is one area most identify with safer mobility.
“That’s exactly where we’re doing the work. That’s what the cycle strategy is about,” Carra said.
Calgary’s got a lot of work ahead of it. Some of the changes will come as speeds in neighbourhoods drop and the design changes, Carra said. That will improve safety.
“But on the whole, it’s a good reflection of the fact that our starting point is great. What we’re doing right now is great and there is work to do into the future,” he said.
Calgary’s Infrastructure and Planning committee approved the Neighbourhood Streets Policy June 10. It’s an update to the city’s traffic calming policy.
In that meeting, Ward 3 Coun. Jasmine Mian said that it was interesting to see the increase in active mobility correspond with investments.
“I think so much of this policy, and the built environment, shapes behaviour, and people don’t always walk or wheel or try to go get places in new ways if they can’t,” she said at the time.
PeopleForBikes puts out their annual city ratings every June.