Brent Alexander

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

Several, including the obvious health benefits, it also improves neighborhood commerce (slower methods of transport are more likely to engage on street commerce, faster are more likely to engage off street commerce, i.e. shopping malls), and neighborhood safety (more eyes on the street – thank you Jane Jakobs!)

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?

On walking – we have finally made sidewalks a strictly public infrastructure cost, thanks to Mayor Nenshi. This is very important and they are now likely to be maintained as a viable safe form of movement for pedestrians and wheelchair users. Sharing these costs with local residents/businesses did not fit in with the hierarchy of how we want to promote transportation (i.e. ped, cycling, transit, auto). We need to continue to improve the minimum guidelines for sidewalks in both residential and commercial areas to ensure their width is sufficient for people to walk, windowshop, talk and meet as well as play for children. This includes ensuring the undue hinderances such as sign posts, tent signs, public furniture et al are all taken in to account and desire lines are respected (i.e. ensure pathways and sidewalks correspond as closely as possible with how people actually desire to move across spaces and not at bizarre right angles). Curb cuts that are truly wheelchair accessible must become standard, and properly textured for those with sight impairment.
On cycling – safety must be preeminent in how we design further bike infrastructure in our city. Too many of our current cycle routes on the busier streets (10th Street NW, and 10th Ave SW for example) simply consist o lines of paint on the road. While on paper this may appear to be a grand gesture, in reality, it does not provide the additional safety for people how do not currently cycle for anything other than leisure to take up cycling on busy streets. If we had been paying attention, we could have learnt this from other cities that had made the same mistake earlier. The uptake of cycling on the 1oth Street on road pathway is nominal, while irritating drivers and creating negative tensions between cyclists and motorists – not conducive to growing cycling as an alternative form of transportation. Particularly along 10th St NW, there is sufficient space along almost the entire length of the road to have accommodated the bike path beside, but separate from, the pedestrian sidewalk. It would have been slightly more expensive, but a good investment overall to both accommodate a separate grade bikeway that was both actually more safe and just as importantly, perceived to be more safe, to attract additional cycling commuting. As well, we need to encourage more bike parking infrastructure downtown, both public and private, so that cyclists do have a place to safely store their bikes once at work, change and shower.
On transit – there are three keys to improving transit in Calgary, increased volume into the downtown, better inter-nodal (Universities, hospitals, airport et al), including crosstown connections, that do not flow through the downtown and better late night hours to allow shift workers to better rely in transit as a mode of transportation to and from work.

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?

Unsafe driving behaviour, particularly on residential streets, is the most common concern I hear across Ward 7 neighborhoods. While residents believe it is a highly local issue with local solutions (speed bumps, traffic circles, curb bulges), the pervasiveness of this issue begs for further examination. I have been proposing from the outset of this election in my discussions with voters that we, that is communities across Calgary, have a strategic discussion on how to address this issue. Lowering the speed limit is definitely one of the options that will be on the table as many do not believe that 60 kms an hour (50+10!) is safe for their children or elderly family members, let along themselves. In the end, regardless what the rules are, their enforcement is what drives changes in behaviour and we must work closely with CPC to ensure this aspect is in place. There may be other suggestions that are also workable to alleviate this concern. If not, highly localized solutions may be the only response.

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?

In Ward 7, each of our communities are established, whether the 100+ year old neighborhoods of Chinatown, Hillhurst Sunnyside and Crescent Heights, or the 50+ year old Dalhousie. Each functions very differently and has different aspects that contribute to its unique character and existing vibrancy while also limiting it in what may be overlaid or added on to its existing neighborhood form to achieve “greater vibrancy”. In the end, each community is likely to buy in to sustainable redevelopment that promotes vibrancy and all its factors, first and foremost if it integrates well with the existing community, maintains and enriches the existing community fabric, helps preserve the community assets that the community wants to see preserved, renewed or expanded (local schools, heritage sites, both private and public, and neighborhood recreation facilities) and adds what is missing and deemed necessary by the community to allow it to immediately have a net benefit when accommodating any changes in to its existing structure. Making planning for positive change both a consultative and a collaborative process with community thus becomes the most important element of creating even more vibrant communities in Ward 7.

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. As mentioned in #2, it is how we do it that is as important as the quantity that we do it in. As well, the ultimate answer to #3, may make how we do this easier moving forward. What I do not subscribe to is decreasing the accessibility to the downtown any greater than it already is. Accessibility to the downtown has been circumscribed for decades. I support this as it encourages transit use. But further reducing as we grow, while having insufficient mass transit options to alleviate the current traffic volume, is not warranted nor advisable. We must get the latter in order – North Central/SE LRT and various other components of Route Ahead, including fine tuning of same. We do not need to engage in an unnecessary “culture” war between motorists and cyclists.

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)?

As previously mentioned, there are three keys to improving transit in Calgary, and therefore it as a mode of choice: increased volume into the downtown, better inter-nodal (Universities, hospitals, airport et al), including crosstown connections, that do not flow through the downtown and better late night hours to allow shift workers to better rely in transit as a mode of transportation to and from work. One of the best ways to increase multi-modal forms of trips is to provide a single form of payment that is transferable across many forms of transportation, including car-share and co-ops, taxis, buses and LRT while maintaining appropriate infrastructure for securely storing and transporting bicycles both at transportation hubs and where people simply go (schools, shopping, entertainment, work et al).

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?

We do need to start moving forward, and New York is a Gold Standard in North America for how things can be done, particularly with bike lanes and pedestrianization of public spaces, both permanently and temporarily. However – we are starting at a very different place in consumer driven behaviours and underlying transportation infrastructure. Calgary’s LRT system cannot be compared even remotely to that of NYC, nor its related bus system. As notorious as NYC Cabbies are to find during rush hour or a thunderstorm, the sheer lack of taxis in Calgary makes it nearly impossible to rely on this as an alternative form of transportation outside of the downtown core or during late nights. New Yorkers, in significant numbers, do not own cars and often do not have valid drivers licenses. New York has a 100 years advance on Calgary in its public transportation infrastructure, to have overlaid its advances it has made in the last 6 years. My thoughts on the matter are already described in may answers to 2 and 4.

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 more roads are simply not able to be built through Ward 7, the only alternative is to ensure the maximum utilization of transit and more diverse neighborhoods that allow for more trips to be accommodated via walking and cycling.

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