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Riverbend bike lane pilot shows a lack of use, little change in drive time

Lack of communication, delivery of pilot project shown in results, Coun. Penner said.

The data is in, and while fewer than expected took to the Riverbend adaptive bike lane last summer, it also had little impact on resident drive times.

Over the weekend, the Riverbend Community Association posted the data from the summer 2022 pilot project to their website.

The three-week bike lane pilot was initiated along 18 Street SE as a test measure to try to slow vehicles and reduce volume along the southeast Calgary stretch of roadway. There were community concerns at the time over speeds, vehicle noise and pedestrian safety in the area.

It’s a roadway that sees roughly 17,000 vehicles per day, according to 2019 traffic data. It’s two lanes in each direction that were cut down to one.  

The pilot project was met with some consternation from area residents. During the test run, there were reports of traffic control signals being overturned or pylons being removed.  The final report mentions “significant tampering of traffic control devices” over the three-week stretch.

Ward 11 Coun. Kourtney Penner said the whole thing was a learning opportunity. She said they take ownership of how the project was rolled out.

“I think we had thought there would be bigger uptake,” Coun. Penner said.

She’d heard both positive and negative feedback about the project. She said that they get asked all the time to fix things and try to make them better in the city and this was an attempt to do that. Penner said she recognizes many citizens just want to see the status quo remain.

“Was it perfect? No. Was it a learning opportunity? It absolutely was a learning opportunity for us. It was a learning opportunity for the city,” Penner said.

18 ST SE Study by Darren Krause

Resident validation, said Rondeau

Aiyme Rondeau was behind a petition last year opposed to the adaptive bike lane. She said the data confirms what many people had suggested would happen.

“I think it validates what residents were sharing in terms of concerns and their feedback that it was something that we didn’t think folks would be overly interested in using because we have such great access to existing bike paths within the community,” she told LiveWire Calgary.

Rondeau, a Quarry Park resident, said she thinks area residents were taken aback by how and when it was rolled out.

“The lack of notice, the engagement and consultation with the community,” she said.

She wasn’t certain that more advanced notice or awareness would have helped the pilot project.

Rondeau believes that there are other ways to reduce speed or volume in the area. She said a big help would be having more than one way out of Riverbend and Quarry Park. The 18 Street SE corridor is really the only way in and out of the area.

Further, it’s not particularly well served by transit since the 302 was moved to 24 Street SE with the addition of the crosstown BRT, she said. Most people don’t make the trek over the hop aboard.  She also said the addition of a signal light or pedestrian crossing at the intersection at Riverbend Close and 18 Street SE could slow people down. Deerfoot cut-through traffic is also a problem, she said.

There’s room to increase the mobility access in the area that doesn’t need to cut down traffic space, Rondeau said. Particularly as the area sees more multi-family growth.

Future of the corridor

Coun. Penner said there are a lot of factors that could be attributed to the lack of interest in the pilot project. Communication, safety (only pylons used to separate traffic) and tampering with the lanes.

Coun. Penner said this summer 18 Street SE will be repaved.

“The reality is, is this really isn’t going to see any changes by way of lights or traffic circles,” she said.

“It’s not in the budget. So, there really isn’t much that’s sort of next for the road.”

With the width of the road and the back lane fence – soon to be with new asphalt – Penner said it’s just conducive to faster driving. In the interim, there’s not a lot that can be done.

“There’s really not a lot to be perfectly honest. Unless we shrink and narrow the size of the lane and we make it more conducive to a 50 (km/h) road than typically 60 to 70,” she said.

The information provided on the Riverbend website from Coun. Penner’s office showed a desire to continue working with the community to find solutions.

“This project did not land with the initial enthusiasm we had hoped for, and we are grateful to the Riverbend community for their high level of engagement and feedback,” it read.

18th St SE Adaptive Bike La… by Darren Krause