Feel good about your information and become a local news champion today

Downtown 3 Avenue S cycling route will stay through 2024

The City of Calgary will maintain the 3 Avenue South temporary cycle track detour after a considerable backlash when they said it would be removed at the end of September.

On Aug. 26, the City of Calgary issued a statement apologizing for a lack of communication on the 3 Avenue South walking and wheeling lane. They further said they would be conducting a public survey to gather Calgarians’ feedback on the route.

Now, the city has agreed to keep most of the route open through 2024 as an interim east-west route across downtown Calgary. Meanwhile, a more permanent solution will be sought.

Peter Oliver with Project Calgary, who brought the issue to light in conversation with LWC, said he believed that this was a victory for advocacy.

“I think it’s a huge victory for downtown communities. I think there was a real lack of transparency around how the original decision was made to downgrade this to temporary infrastructure,” Oliver said.

“I think the community will be really eager to be involved in the design of a permanent solution. In 2024.”

The City of Calgary has maintained that this was always intended as temporary infrastructure while work was being done along the Bow River Pathway. The route, however, is in long-term transportation planning, and when the issue first came up, Oliver questioned why the city would remove the route only to rebuild it again in the future.

Oliver said advocacy played a large role in shifting the city’s stance on the route’s removal.

“I think it goes to show the power of advocacy at the municipal level in the city,” he said.

“I think it also goes to show where we are, as inner city communities today versus 10 years ago, where the consensus has really shifted towards more livable, safer, walkable, bikeable neighbourhoods.”

Continued east-west route in the downtown

The City said the interim wheeling and walking route would stay between 8 Street SW and 5 Street SW. Utility work coming up this fall means it can’t be kept in place east of 5 Street SW, they said.

“The cycle track between 8 Street SW and 5 Street SW will be repainted over the coming days to ensure that the interim cycle track will hold up to the elements over the winter months,” the city said in a prepared release.

“These important city-building projects are being carefully planned to move us toward revitalizing our downtown and make our city more resilient to climate change.”

Ward 8 Coun. Courtney Walcott said that Green Line utility work brought forward a big opportunity.

“Preserving every inch of cycling infrastructure is a necessity for this council,” he said.

“Rather than remove the whole track, thanks to the public, Councillor Wong, and the Mayor’s advocacy, the bike lane connecting Lot 6 to the 5 Street bikeway will remain and a detour will be in place to manoeuvre Green-line enabling construction.”

Walcott was quick to push administration on a reprieve for the route once the public outcry began. He immediately said he would find a way to delay the route’s closure.

“It was clear for us from the beginning, there couldn’t be a plan to remove the temporary lane without a plan for a permanent one,” he said.

“And in 2024, that work will begin.”

Oliver said, however, that this demonstrates the difficulty the city still has in executing policies and plans that it has for communities.

“While it’s a win today – It’s a big win today – For downtown communities…  I think the leadership inside the city administration still needs to catch up to the city’s own policies and where the communities are at,” he said.

The city said that design for a permanent east-west cycling connection would begin in 2024.