What do you think are the benefits of active transportation (e.g. walking, riding a bicycle)?
The many benefits include:
- Reduced traffic congestion
- Reduced pollution and greenhouse gas emissions
- Reduced noise pollution
- Great exercise for healthier living
- Stress release with exercise
- Social benefits, meeting people on the pathways
- Opportunity to enjoy the natural environment
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?
Calgary already has great trails for recreational cycling (although some were severely damaged by the floods) but we do not have good infrastructure for commuter cyclists. We need to have divided cycling lanes that run on our secondary and tertiary roadways. These lanes should be dedicated lanes for cycling and have speed limits that reflect commuting. They should be safe and not restrict vehicular traffic flow. Cycle lanes on primary routes could be introduced when the public is more familiar with the rules and see their importance in Calgary.
Ideally we would widen our sidewalks and make them more pedestrian friendly by including benches and having wheel chair ramps at the end of each street. I would like to see transit hubs (where all busses meet in one location) and the
transit user has a choice on their destination. This is done in many cities around the world. Dedicated bus lanes are also required to be sure the busses arrive on time. Going forward safety must be of number one importance. This includes all pedestrian, cyclist and transit users. There have been a number of people who have told me about their transit horror stories. Including being afraid for their safety because of intoxicated riders or seeing elderly or homeless people being harassed. We need to address this issue now by adding better security measures.
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?
I have been actively pursuing traffic safety in my community and have been very frustrated with the response from the City to date. I submitted paperwork to the City last year (collected all required signatures) but have not received any solutions. I absolutely agree that the residential speed must be reduced. It is one of my top priorities. We also need traffic calming measures. We have very little enforcement; therefore we must take action to make our streets safer. We have seen much more pedestrian/car fatalities lately and that is unacceptable.
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’ve already touched on this with improved sidewalks. I would like our green spaces connected so that they are not isolated areas but can be used as walking corridors. A good example of this is with Garrison Woods where their green space is very inviting and leads to the local ice cream store or neighbourhood pub.
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?
Yes it is important to reallocate some roadway space but we need to find a balance. It is not beneficial if traffic flow is severely impeded and angry motorists are behind the wheel of the vehicle. We might need to look at removing some street parking and changing this to cycle lanes as well as widening sidewalks. I once heard a former Mayor of Bogota Columbia at a presentation talk about how he felt that cities that have good cycling and pedestrian lanes show respect for people. I wholeheartedly agree with this statement.
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 need to improve the safety on the LRTs and busses so as issues arise there is a way that they can be stopped. This might mean more security officers or cameras on each form of transit. One person I spoke to while campaigning told me she would like to see a button under the seat in case there is an issue so that people are not afraid to call for help and risk their personal safety. I would like to make bus stops more appealing so that people don’t feel uncomfortable while they wait for the bus. If we implement safety and improve accessibility we will have more people making better choices for their commute. One example of poor planning is the Peace Bridge. Not only does the bridge not go anywhere but when you cross to Memorial Drive you need to walk a block to get to the crosswalk. The bridge should have had a walkway built at the end for commuters to continue on their journey. If you don’t make these amenities easy for people then they will not be used as much as they should be.
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?
New York is known for making transportation safer and more efficient for people. I think the people at the City of Calgary Transportation Department have looked at cities like New York or Curitiba, Brazil or Amsterdam, The Netherlands (and others) for ways to improve our systems. We need to start implementing the best of these worldwide systems into our own.
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?
I believe transportation is a core necessity and we need to do what we can to make all forms much more user friendly. I would support directing funding to making this happen.