What do you think are the benefits of active transportation (e.g. walking, riding a bicycle)?
Walking and cycling have many benefits. They facilitate physical activity throughout the day, leading to better personal health. They’re also a mode that’s healthy for the city. For every person who’s able to walk or cycle to commute, or meet everyday needs, that means one less car on the road – leading to less congestion, pollution and infrastructure maintenance costs.
Research recommends enabling biking and walking for transport as an important public health measure. What are your thoughts on the current state of the infrastructure for active transportation in the city? How will you increase the convenience and safety of all modes of transportation, including walking/using a wheelchair, riding a bike, and transit?
I am committed to implementing our new Cycling Strategy, which outlines how we will develop cycling infrastructure across the city. We currently have great recreational cycling infrastructure, but we need to develop infrastructure that supports more commuter and other daily trips by thoughtfully developing dedicated on-street cycling routes. 7th Street is the first of such facilities downtown and planning is currently underway planning the full Centre City Network. Next year, we will embark on a new city-wide bikeways network plan. I’m not doctrinaire on this; not every street is appropriate for cycling. However, we must create more safe and comfortable commuting routes.
Improving pedestrian infrastructure is also a priority. This Council has made it very difficult for contruction to close down sidewalks for years on end, has dedicated money to remove the homeowner portion of sidewalk repairs and upgrades, and has redirected funding from seldom-used pedestrian overpasses to places where people actually do walk or have the potential to walk if there were better sidewalks.
Lowering speed limits to 30 kph in residential areas improves road safety for all users, especially children and seniors. Calgary citizen groups in many communities are calling on the City to act against speeding. If elected, how will you work to reduce vehicle speeds in residential areas in Calgary?
Speeding is a function of the design of the road. People will drive to the speed they feel safe. So if a roadway, like a neighbourhood collector street is wide, people naturally speed. In new communities, we need to design the street network better from the start and engineer streets such that people will naturally slow down. In existing communities,there are opportunities to introduce various traffic calming measures if there is an indentified need and community desire.
Vibrant communities depend upon everyday people using city streets to shop, eat, linger, and walk. Several factors play into the walkability of communities including: intensity, mixing of different types of uses, connectivity, and quality of the urban realm. If elected, how will you increase the walkability and vibrancy of Calgary’s communities?
The focus of our Municipal Development Plan and Calgary Transportation Plan is to develop connected communities, where amenities are within neighbourhoods, where there is a true mix of uses and where density is adequate to support efficient transit service and walkability. We’ve seen a lot of progress in our most recently approved new communities. We must continue to deeply embed these principles in the planning and design of communities. In inner city and other established areas, we need to thoughtfully intensify and invest in improving the quality of the public realm so that walking is a desirable choice.
Bicycle access to amenities (e.g. work, school, recreation) requires bicycle facilities that extend beyond our pathways. In addition, this summer we saw how reliance on a pathway network built primarily in a river floodplain resulted in a loss of viable travel routes for many Calgarians. Of its 18,000 lane-km of roads, Calgary has only 26 km of marked on-street bike routes. Given that 98% of Calgarians are uncomfortable riding in traffic, do you support reallocation of roadway space to provide people on bicycles with equitable, reliable, safe,comfortable, and efficient access to the amenities they need to reach?
Through thoughtful planning, first within the core of our city and then across Calgary, we can identify a connected network of safe on-street bike routes to complement our extensive pathway system. Because there are multiple users competing for space on roadways in addition to cyclists, including transit, private and emergency vehicles, we need to take a balanced approach in the introduction of cycling infrastructure. This means stakeholder consultation, route selection and the engineering of infrastructure is thoughtful. In the first few months of operation of the 7th Street cycle track we’ve already seen tremendous uptake and it’s a regular occurrence to see children riding their bike through downtown on this route (certainly an indicator of success). On this project (unlike 10th Street NW) effective public consultation was undertaken, communication about the route planning and design was strong and the public response has been very positive.
A safe, connected network with dedicated space for cyclists will attract a wider array of people to cycle, including those that are interested, but concerned about the safety of streets for cycling today.
How will you increase the convenience and appeal of transit as a mode of choice, as well as facilitate the possibility of multi-modal trips (e.g. walking &
transit, riding a bike & transit)?
We often think of modes in isolation from one another, but in fact most trips are multi-modal. One may walk to the bus to take transit, drive to work and park in a parkade and walking the rest of the way, park and bike at one our stations throughout the city, or take your bike to the C-train. Connections between modes need to be seamless – including ensuring proper pedestrian and cycling connections to transit infrastructure. The West LRT project did a relatively effective job at ensuring these connections were planned and developed in concert with the construction of the LRT line itself.
To improve the convenience and appeal of transit we must implement the RouteAhead Plan, which sets out a comprehensive strategy for customer experience (everything from planning your trip, to waiting at the bus stop, paying your fare, to getting information about delays), operations, finances as well as capital and network plans. Fundamentally, the transit network needs to be connected and direct and service needs to be reliable and as frequent as possible.
Are you familiar with the New York experience from 2007-2013? How can we replicate most of that success here in the next five years?
Yes, New York City Commissioner of the Department of Transportation Jannette Sadik-Khan under Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been tremendously successful in focusing on the creation of safe and complete streets. Our Calgary Transportation Plan, Complete Streets Guide, Cycling Strategy, RouteAhead Plan, and focus on investment in pedestrian infrastructure all point us in that direction with a balanced understanding of the role that different classifications of streets play for each mode and in the overall transportation network. Now, it’s a matter of moving forward and doing it, which we are.
Will you advocate for the prioritization of cold hard cash directed towards alternative transport options, and an urgent move to make on-the-ground changes immediately?
As part of the 2012-2014 budget, Council committed substantial operating and capital dollars to the implementation of the Cycling Strategy. The money and staff are in place, and the process of implementation is underway.
For pedestrian infrastructure, Council has committed to invest in places of high use and high priority, shifting away from the past when City investment was focused on some overpasses used by very few people. We have committed to $3.5 million to improve the 8th Street SW underpass, which sees over 10,000 pedestrians per day. 1st Street SW will also see about $1.5 million in improvements. The entire East Village district is also undergoing massive infrastructure renewal that improves the pedestrian environment, including a new $25 million pedestrian and cycling bridge across the Bow River at St. Patrick’s Island. More is needed in these kinds of high priority areas around Calgary.
A big move for the City of Calgary was the structuring of our Transportation capital plan. In our new Investing in Mobility Plan, we’ve created four categories or buckets of investment, including a “Mobility Hubs and Transit Corridors” that better focuses our attention on investing in pedestrian, cycle and transit infrastructure as integrated modes in places like the Centre City, Activity Centres and Corridors (as defined in the MDP/CTP). Mobility Hubs and Transit Corridors will comprise roughly half of all Transportation Capital spending over the next ten years. The other three categories include, Transportation Network Optimization, Life-Cycle and Asset Management (touching all modes) and Goods Movement and Traffic Growth.