Chris Harper

What do you think are the benefits of active transportation (e.g. walking, riding a bicycle)?

There are several benefits to active transportation.  One of the primary ones is that residents get out in their neighbourhoods and have the opportunity to connect with one another.  This increases community safety through better neighbourhood awareness and also allows us the opportunity to have incidental exercise which is good for everyone’s health.  Another benefit is that this form of transportation reduces the demand of existing automobile infrastructure.  When it is easier and more pleasant to bike or walk to a particular destination, residents will choose this over their vehicle reducing the amount of traffic congestions for short-ride trips.

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?

We could be doing better on alternative infrastructure for active transportation.  The primary need in Ward 1 is about connecting this infrastructure across and within our communities.  Pathways to nowhere are a barrier to alternative forms of transportation as they harm convenience.  There are several things I would do to support the convenience and safety of transportation.  One of the primary ones is to ensure that Bow Crescent is paved.  As a major connection for cycling traffic, it presents a challenge as road bikes are not designed for the rugged road of Bow Crescent.

To address safety we must encourage education.  Many motorists and cyclists do not always understand or follow the rules.  This creates risk to their safety.  Education can be active and passive.  The City through implementing the Cycling Strategy can actively inform and enables motorists and cyclists to better cohabit our roadways.  This can also start with youth so that safe cycling habits are always part of their ride.  Passively, the City must make information regarding cycling safety easy to access.  Neighbourhoods must be able to inform themselves as well.

Lowering speeds 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?

Safety is a priority and I’m not confident that lowing speed limits will end the concerns around it.  Traffic safety starts with community design.  Long, straight, and wide roadways will encourage greater speeding.  New communities should be designed to be good places to live, but also places that do not encourage harmful behaviours.  We can reduce the speed limits within the city; however, with some individuals not adhering to the existing speed limits it would seem to me the problem would not be addressed by a reduction in those limits.  I feel that by encouraging neighbours to know one another, we can reduce the perception that speeding in residential areas is acceptable.  When neighbours hold each other accountable, this is a good thing for community safety as they are less likely to put each other at harm.

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?

I will support walkability in several ways.  New Area Structure Plans should demonstrate connections amongst the community nodes so that residents are able to travel efficiently through various modes of transportation, including walking.  You can see this benefits of this in communities like Rocky Ridge and Tuscany.  Key to this is ensuring that green space is consolidated into corridors throughout a new community so that connectivity is possible for recreation and pedestrian traffic.  When green space is dispersed, it is more difficult to connect the various nodes within a community.

For established communities, ensuring that redevelopment enhances the public realm is key.  This means that the green space within an Area Redevelopment Plan is consolidated so that a meaningful public realm is achieved.  It also means ensuring that redevelopment of established communities ensures safety of pedestrians which as I noted above, is found in the design.

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?

I support looking at opportunities to achieve this; however, cannot say I would support any and all proposals.  Like new roadways, there are appropriate and less-appropriate places for them to be built.  In general, I support greater opportunities for cycling including additional bike racks on public transit.

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)?

Convenience is a huge component of this.  Our transit system has an enormous ridership which also makes it challenging for some to use.  The introduction of GPS on transit assets will increase convenience by removing the guess-work required when using transit (pilot program about to start).  Multi-modal trips can be increased through the use of more bicycle racks on transit buses.  This makes bringing a bicycle onto public transit easier and more comfortable for all riders.  Also, further bike racks allow cyclists to secure their bicycle without interfering with sidewalk traffic.

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?

I am not familiar with this.  There are several events that have occurred during 2007 – 2013 in New York related to cycling.  I’m happy to comment on a specific one if you could provide that information.

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?

Yes, as long as we focus on making the best use of what we have first.  I’m not in favour of simply paving more pathways until we know that this is what is necessary.  We need well planned and thought-out infrastructure and this takes some time to develop otherwise we end up with expensive and ineffective infrastructure.  Not an outcome I wish to see.

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