The Calgary councillor initially behind a push to remove time restrictions for bikes on LRT said reducing these barriers is critical for the success of frequency-based transit.
Ward 2 Coun. Jennifer Wyness said it was particularly important in areas of Calgary that won’t benefit directly from the expected change in transit delivery.
On Monday, the City of Calgary announced that they would be extending a pilot project, first started May 2022, beyond the scheduled March 31 end. It will now go until Dec. 31. Wyness had brought forward the idea back in March last year.
“Calgarians have told us that they value having options for how they get around the city, including how they access transit,” said Chris Jordan, manager of Transit Service Design.
“We want to see if lifting the time restrictions for bikes on CTrains can provide more options, without negatively impacting other customers or the operations of our CTrains.”
With post-pandemic ridership increasing faster than the city expected this year, they want to put the pilot to the test with busier CTrains.
“We want to be sure that we have solid and complete feedback about how bikes affect transit customers and operations, at all times, before we make a final decision,” Jordan said.
Coun. Wyness said so far, the pilot has been a success. It’s been a “mostly peaceful adaptation of the system,” she said.
“At first, we thought it was successful because we had space, and now we have the return of ridership, and it seems to still be successful,” she said.
Frequency-based transit makes bike access critical
Earlier this year, Calgary city councillors pushed forward with an amendment to the city’s overarching transit delivery strategy called Route Ahead.
They’ll be changing from a coverage-based service model that saw transit delivered to all parts of the city, to one where frequency in high-use areas is prioritized. That could mean much longer walks or bikes to get to the transit stops for people outside these key areas.
In Ward 2, Wyness said there’s a lot of density, particularly in the newer areas, but no seven-day-a-week transit coverage. She’s hoping there will be some flexibility in these areas.
In the meantime, mobility-sharing devices like scooters and e-bikes aren’t readily available in these areas either. That means residents will have to rely on their own bikes to get to stations.
“We don’t have access to those rental bikes. We don’t have access to the rental scooters in the outer wards,” Wyness said.
“The only way for the Route Ahead plan to be successful is for us to be using our own bikes and to be able to put our bikes on the front of buses and put our bikes on the CTrain when we get there,” she said.
She said there will be a bit of a gap to bridge, and allowing bikes on transit is a way to help do that.
“We can say we want one thing, but if we’re making a Route Ahead plan off of what amenities are in the urban center, how do you serve your outer wards and serve all Calgarians when they don’t have that access to what some of those assumptions are in that plan,” Wyness said.
Calgary Transit said they’re working on more things to integrate bikes with transit use, including racks on all buses and shuttles by the end of 2023.
To provide feedback on the program, visit this city survey.