A cyclist uses the Stephen Avenue Mall designated cycle track on Thursday June 18, 2015.
Gavin Young / Calgary Herald
Skateboards and scooters could soon join bicycles on the city’s cycle track network, with council’s transportation and transit committee set to debate potential bylaw changes on Wednesday.Administration is recommending a series of modifications to the city’s transportation bylaw “to increase the safety and accessibility for a variety of transportation modes for Calgarians.”The proposed amendments include allowing “personal mobility devices” such as scooters, skateboards, wheelchairs, roller skates and electric bicycles in some bike lanes, while also mandating more space for vehicles to pass cyclists on city roads.Many of the recommended changes support existing behaviours throughout the city, according to city staff.The amendments would create a “safe passing bylaw” with a proposed fine of $203, requiring anyone on city roads to allow at least one metre of separation when passing a cyclist going in the same direction, or 1.5 metres if the speed limit is more than 60 km/h.Coun. Shane Keating said it could be difficult to enforce that change.“But, at the same time, if it’s blatantly abused, then we should have something that could be put in place to acknowledge the unsafe practices of some cyclists and some motorists. . . . Both modes of transportation can be unsafe,” said Keating, chair of the city’s transportation committee.“It’s going to be subjective. It’s not like you cross the yellow line — you did or you didn’t. This is, ‘are you within the safe zone or are you not,’ and that’s going to be subjective because no one can actually get out there and measure it completely.”
A pedestrian and cyclist at 5 St and 9 Ave SW in downtown Calgary on Sunday, February 24, 2019.
An online public engagement process on the bylaw tweaks closed in late 2018, after the city sought feedback from Calgarians on the proposed changes.Some residents expressed concern there might not be enough road space to accommodate the buffer when passing a cyclist, however most felt the change would increase safety.Of those surveyed, many were against allowing skateboards, in-line skates and scooters in downtown public spaces and cycle tracks. Those against the proposal said there could be safety issues caused by varying speeds of the mobility devices compared to ordinary bicycles.“We’ve heard a little feedback that some of the cyclists want nothing on the cycle paths but cyclists,” said Keating.“If we’ve got a cycle path and you’re a longboard skateboarder, then you should be able to use it the same as everyone else.”If approved, the changes would also allow mobility devices in downtown public spaces such as Olympic Plaza, Stephen Avenue Walk and Barclay Mall, and would allow mobility aids — such as electric scooters and wheelchairs — to use the cycle tracks.But Keating said there might not be a huge uptick in demand for that type of use of the city’s cycling paths.“I’m not positive how many individuals will be using those modes to get to work but, at the same time, if you open it up and make it safer, it may change and that will just allow others to do it,” he said.
The cyclist bike lane counter is displayed at 5 St and 9 Ave SW in downtown Calgary on Sunday, February 24, 2019. Jim Wells/Postmedia
Coun. Sean Chu said he often sees people walking along the cycle tracks during the winter when sidewalks are covered in snow.“There’s some locations (where) the cycle tracks are basically empty anyway,” he said. “Might as well get some use out of it.”A poll last year by the Angus Reid Institute found Calgarians are split on whether there are enough separated bike lanes in the city. About 37 per cent said there are too many, while 38 per cent said there aren’t enough.Thirty per cent of those surveyed said they were in support of the bike lane infrastructure downtown, while 13 per cent weren’t sure.The proposed changes would also allow cyclists to signal a right turn using their right arm (rather than just their left arm, as mandated under the current bylaws), enable on-street parking adjacent to painted lines on a roadway (rather than simply next to a physical curb) and allow electric pedal assist bicycles on CTrains during the same hours that regular bicycles are firstname.lastname@example.orgTwitter.com/SammyHudes