What do you think are the benefits of active transportation (e.g. walking, riding a bicycle)?
There are many benefits to active transportation: health, economic and social. The health benefits are obviously for the person who is choosing to either walk or bike, as they are getting more exercise, with all the resulting health benefits. But the health benefits extend beyond the person who is being active to the rest of the community. We all benefit from increased health through cleaner air and water by having fewer emissions and pollutants being put in our air and water.
The economic benefits also extend beyond the direct person making the active choice to the rest of the community. Obviously, the person choosing to ride or walk rather than driving is saving money on their choice, but that choice benefits us all. The more people are able to choose an active means of transportation the better our roads work for others (saving drivers time and money) and the less the City has to invest in larger more costly infrastructure such as roads and interchanges. The more walkers and riders means fewer parking stalls are required by businesses thereby saving them money as well.
And the social benefits are extent as well. By being able to walk or bike to a destination we open up to more social interactions along the journey. Whether it is saying good morning to a fellow biker at a stoplight or bumping into a neighbour while walking to the store, each interaction increases social connection and cohesion. And each interaction builds a stronger more resilient community.
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?
The current state of infrastructure for active transportation is sorely lacking. We have a great pathway system in Calgary, but it is primarily built for leisure rather than transportation. Our city has primarily been built for the automobile over the last 60 years, with other means of transportation, including walking, being secondary considerations. The lack of sidewalks in the suburbs, the curvilinear street patterns, all work against other transportation choices, including transit.
We must design new suburbs to work for all transportation choices from the outset. That means ensuring that the infrastructure is there (bike paths, lanes and sidewalks) but also ensuring the street pattern works efficiently for transit as well. On top of that, we need to make sure that the land use patterns, where we put our homes, jobs and shopping in relation to each other, work so that people can effectively choose to walk or bike for daily trips.
Retrofitting this type of infrastructure into existing neighbourhoods is more challenging and costly and must primarily be done on an opportunity basis. Whenever we have a project going on in an established area we must look for the opportunity to improve the cycling and walking connections. This is cost effective and will, over time, result in a connected system.
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 would like for us to explore lowering the speed limits in residential neighbourhoods. That said, we have many 30 km zones right now that routinely get ignored. We must increase the awareness and education of residents as to why the slower speeds are there and required to ensure that they are followed.
As well, we must look at our road standards within residential neighbourhoods. Wide streets, no matter what the speed limit, encourage speeding. Intersections within residential neighbourhoods, with wide turning radii, allow vehicles to barely slow down, let alone stop, when they get to a corner. Narrow sidewalks that don’t allow two people to walk side by side do not encourage people to walk within their neighbourhoods. All these are barriers to having safer communities for all users and residents.
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 have for the most part answered this question within previous answers. But, simply put, it is about ensuring that we are looking at the community from the pedestrian scale. Ensuring that we are putting uses within walking distance of each other and making sure that the route works.
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, I do. In getting more people to be able to chose to bike to commute rather than take their car, we make the road system work better for everyone. Creating the safe and comfortable environment for people to make the choice is key. That is the basic impetus behind the Cycling Strategy.
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)?
I will and do support increased funding for transit. Investing in transit is a basic and fundamental service we must provide. Investing in a transit system that becomes a viable choice door-to-door is the key to supporting people to make that choice each and every day. That means that “feeder” routes to our primary transit network must be extended in the shoulder period. We need to find the opportunities to give transit priority and have transit routes out of traffic (such as the planned SW BRT). As previously mentioned, transit must be designed into the road network of new communities from the outset rather than as an afterthought.
Multi modal trips, such as riding a bike & transit, must be supported with the appropriate facilities. That means bike locker facilities at major transit hubs and bike racks on busses. C-Trains stations must be designed to be pedestrian and cycling friendly so that they are safe for people to walk and ride to. The days of surrounding our c-train stations with parking lots have to stop.
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, the NYC DOT has done a great job of focusing on complete streets to increase the safety and awareness of all means of transportation. By creating space for each choice within the public realm, we make it safer and more attractive for people to make that choice.
We have the basic tools laid out for us to begin making significant change. Our Complete Streets guidelines, the Cycling Strategy and our Investing in Mobility documents are all done and ready for implementation. It now requires the will of City Council to make the investment for a complete transportation network.
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 have and I will continue to do so. This is a basic investment that makes sense. As previously stated, we all benefit from increased choice. Being responsible with taxpayer dollars means that we should be making our existing road network function better rather than building more and more roads and interchanges. That means creating a system, on-the-ground, that gives people the viable ability to choose to ride their bike, take transit or walk as a means of every day transportation. It is far cheaper to build a bike lane that it is to build another lane of roadway. It is far more responsible to invest in transit than in expensive interchanges. Giving people more choice is the right thing to do from a basic triple bottom line perspective.