Right out of the chute: I acknowledge that I ride a bicycle. And I enjoy it. I do not however, ride my bike to work. It’s winter! On those days when the weather is sane, my work calendar permits and I am so inclined, I do ride to work. It’s 10 KM door-to-door and takes me about 26 minutes on average. Conversely, I can drive the same distance (both in my SUV and on my scooter) in times ranging from 10 minutes to over an hour. It all depends on whether traffic is moving or not. Typically it’s the latter.
So there. I have “outed” myself. I enjoy cycling, but as a recreation not a principal form of transport.
When I first moved to Calgary in the early 1970s, my natural choice as a planner was to live in the inner city. The only accommodation I could find was in a brand new townhouse in the then deep south west. (Anderson Road at the time was still a gravel road west of Elbow Drive) I took the bus to work. I hated it.
Shortly thereafter I relocated to a downtown high-rise where I could walk to work. It was OK. It was handy. It was temporary. Next, I quickly relocated to an older home in South Mount Royal (no longer there) just off 17 Avenue. I loved it. Seventeen Avenue was a really cool place. Everything I needed was within handy walking distance. But on the weekends I, and my camper-ized VW Bus headed to the mountains for hiking, camping, skiing and everything the mountains have to offer.
Point here is your preferred mode of transport is determined more by lifestyle choice and personal values. Man or woman, does not live by one mode alone.
So I get the initiative for Calgary cycle track discussion. I respect the views of the advocates. But I don’t agree with it. It is simply unrealistic to expect that Calgary should shift its transportation priorities to accommodate a small minority of its citizens who have a specific objective in mind. To their credit, the cycling lobby is very committed to its purpose, and they do a good job of communicating their views and they seem to be having a disproportionate influence on the decision making process.
However, the process seems to be driven more by emotion than by evidence. I am not particularly confident in the City’s engagement and data gathering processes. And I fear that City Council will use the results of the flawed engagement process to hide behind rather than stepping up and making a decision which serves the greater public good as opposed to the narrow views of a small minority.
This debate will go on for some time. At the end of it most likely no one will be happy.
In the meantime, I am overhauling my bike to get ready for my summer of recreational riding on the many kilometers of recreational bike paths which we are so fortunate to have.