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Silver Springs bike lane shows speed reduction along boulevard

The Silver Springs Community Association wanted speed addressed along one of the main drags in their area.

New speed data from a pilot project that started June 2021 shows the addition of a bike/wheeling lanes to calm traffic on Silver Springs Blvd and Silver Springs Road have had an impact.

The data shows that while speeds didn’t change much during playground zone hours near the school, outside of zones and zone hours saw reductions of up to seven km/h at times and on average it was three-to-four kilometres per hour.

Further, while the raw speed reduction doesn’t seem like much, excessive speeding dropped substantially on the route.

The City of Calgary measured a reduction in speed after the addition of bike lanes to Silver Springs Boulevard and Silver Springs Road NW. The reduction in average speed for drivers was nearly 5 km/h. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

The amount of excessive speeding has been reduced drastically,” said Jeremie Bourqui, Silver Spring Community Association vice-president.

“That’s fantastic to us.”

Bourqui said it’s also eliminated drivers speeding up to pass other slower drivers. Both of those factors combined have made it safer for people cycling in the area and walking along – or crossing – the roads.

Tony Churchill, coordinator, Mobility Safety with the City of Calgary, confirmed that preliminary data shows moderate speed decreases in the area.

“This is what we expected to happen,” Churchill said.

“Although these changes in speeds are moderate, we know that they will have a positive influence on reducing the number of collisions and the severity of those collisions when they happen.”

Churchill said that previous studies in Calgary and Edmonton show that even a one per cent reduction in average speed is expected to reduce collisions by two per cent.  The reduction on Silver Springs Boulevard should result in 15 per cent reduction in injury collisions and 20 per cent in fatalities over time.

Traffic calming results case-by-case: Churchill

While these results are encouraging, Churchill said that the success of each traffic calming application depends on a variety of factors.  Traffic volume, number of lanes, type of physical buffers versus paint, all affect the results.

A similar pilot is being done in Riverbend along 18 Street SE. Traffic lanes are being reduced to add in an adaptive bike lane. Many residents aren’t convinced it will help reduce speeds or traffic volume.

The Riverbend pilot project only lasts three weeks. The Silver Springs one has been extended another year, according to Bourqui. Their board recently approved the extension.

They have heard resistance from area residents, plus there are improvements they’d like to see should the lane remain permanent.

Negative sentiment still exists from those who simply don’t like bike lanes, Bourqui said. It definitely is less convenient for drivers, he said. 

“They just don’t like bike lanes in general.  They call us activists that have an agenda to increase biking in the community,” he said.

Bourqui said they recognize that many area residents use foot and bike travel as a mode of transportation. That includes for students at nearby schools.

The community association also prefers safety over aesthetics. They would, however, like to see more physical separation of the lanes. Also, Bourqui said they want to see better markings for when the lanes start.

Ward 1 Coun. Sonya Sharp said she’s looking forward to the final results.

“As this is a pilot project, I’m looking forward to seeing what the final results show. I appreciate all of the feedback we’re receiving on this project from the community,” an email response read.