This blog is not meant to be there for advocacy. It is meant to provide perspectives for significantly moving cycling traffic growth forward. Once in a while, an article comes forth that may be more on the advocacy side and has content that needs sharing. This is one of these.
An article was published on 2014-02-07 that needs visibility in North American cities that are struggling to refocus their cities for the future reality of transportation use, and specifically, trying to adjust to cycling infrastructure and separated bike lanes.
Right now, the media and even one of the local cycling advocacy organizations, Bike Calgary, is abuzz with comments on the Calgary City Centre Cycle Track Network being released and in public consultation this week and next. From all the negativism and positivism being expressed, a business leader comes forth with positive comments on how the cycle track network will be a tool for his job in selling Calgary as a city to do business.
Quotes from Bruce Graham, President and CEO, Calgary Economic Development, from the Calgary Herald article, Cycle Tracks deserves to get some traction, 2014-02-07:
“Well, as the promotional agency tasked with attracting and retaining the best talent, as well as promoting our business and lifestyle advantages around the world, a cycle track network will help us do just that.”
Re commuter bike lanes: “And make no mistake, it is an investment.”
“This is a prime example of the kind of selling feature we use when telling Calgary’s story around the world.”
“Sixty-two per cent of recent transplants to Portland, Ore., said that the city’s bike friendliness was a factor in their decision to move there.”
Bruce Graham provides an excellent business marketing perspective of why Calgary needs an extensive network of separated cycling facilities within downtown, with connections to the business retailing streets and the very extensive rivers pathway systems. We need to hear more from progressive minded city business people who look forward to the next 30 years and the expectation of another 1,000,000 people living in the Calgary Region. If Calgary were to adopt the 50% workers, 50% residential ratio for downtown Calgary, then about 200,000 of this population growth should go to downtown. With Downtown and the adjacent Beltline, Mission, Inglewood, Eau Claire, Edmonton Trail/Bridgeland retail areas easily accessible by cyclists, local retailers would enjoy the growth that other cities have shown along cycling facilities.
As the cordon count indicates, motorists are forsaking driving downtown and switching to transit, cycling, and walking instead. Now, only 32% drive into downtown. Now, next year, the C-Train will be adding 33% capacity as its trains go to 4 cars. How many more drivers will be making the switch to transit or to combining transit with cycling on their commute? With each new cyclists commuting to work or coming downtown for shopping, one less car will be on downtown streets. More street pavement will become available for reassignment for separated cycling facilities and sidewalks.
As Bruce points out, the business environment downtown will benefit with increased retail sales, lower operating costs, more productive employees, less workforce loss to sickness (both physical and stress). What more, he and is organization will have another strong marketing tool to sell Calgary to business to locate here.
Bruce, thank you for the article. It will benefit Calgary and other cities that have the same resistance to move towards a more organic, more liveable, progressive people place city and city core.
Calgary Cordon Count, 2013, Downtown Transportation Modal Split: Walking 8.5%, Cycling 2.5%, Transit 50.1%, Driving 32.1%, Passenger in Car 6.9% (Time Period 7:15 am to 8:15 am, Weekday May)
A Copy of the Article from the Calgary Herald:
Graham: Cycle track deserves to get some traction
By Bruce Graham, Calgary Herald February 7, 2014
Calgary’s proposed cycle track network has been creating quite a buzz around town lately and we wanted to weigh in on this issue. You may wonder why we, as Calgary’s leading economic development organization, care about a cycle track network for Calgary. Well, as the promotional agency tasked with attracting and retaining the best talent, as well as promoting our business and lifestyle advantages around the world, a cycle track network will help us do just that.
It may be less obvious than an increase in healthy lifestyle or taking tailpipes off the roads, but an inner city cycle track network can boost business. In Colorado, cycling brought more than $1 billion to the state’s local economy, and in New York, after the installation of a protected bike lane, retail sales increased by as much as 49 per cent compared to a three per cent increase in sales citywide during the same period.
When San Francisco optimized Valencia Street for cyclists and pedestrians, nearly 40 per cent of merchants reported increased sales and 60 per cent reported more area residents shopping locally due to reduced travel time and convenience. Travelling by bike encourages more frequent stops than travelling by car; a study of Toronto merchants revealed that patrons arriving by foot and bicycle visited the most often and spent the most money per month.
It goes without saying that parking the car and jumping on your Trek is good for your health, but it’s also good for the health of the community. Business owners would be interested in a study done by the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research, which found that cycling reduced employee absenteeism — specifically, the employees who cycled to work regularly missed less work, on average more than one day per year less than colleagues who didn’t. And a Minnesota company that encouraged its employees to bike to work saved $170,000 in health care over three years and $301,000 through increased employee productivity every year.
And then there’s the social reputation factor: The “I didn’t know the city built on energy invested in commuter bike lanes.” And make no mistake, it is an investment. This is a prime example of the kind of selling feature we use when telling Calgary’s story around the world. People want to live in a city that invests in making the lives of its citizens better. Sixty-two per cent of recent transplants to Portland, Ore., said that the city’s bike friendliness was a factor in their decision to move there. By 2018, Calgary’s population is expected to grow by more than 150,000 people. We’d love to add the cycle track network to our people-attraction tool kit before we see tens of thousands of new cars added to our morning commute.
The major benefit of dedicated bike lanes is they help pedestrians, motorists, transit users and cyclists coexist safely. Even in Calgary’s harshest weather, you’ll see many diehard cyclists making their way to work, and these numbers would increase if we made their commute safer. After New York City installed their first protected bike lane (the first in the U.S.), they saw a reduction in injuries to all street users by 58 per cent. Calgary drivers will be the first to say that the unpredictability of cyclists sharing the narrow downtown roadways makes them nervous for the safety of the cyclists and themselves. A cycle track network in Calgary gives commuters a reliable alternative to driving, while ensuring the well-being of both cyclists and motorists.
Calgary is already well suited to adopting a cycle track network and here’s why. With the most expensive parking in Canada, our citizens have already shown us they would happily utilize this healthy and fun mode of transportation.
The first leg of the cycle track network runs on 7th Street S.W., and over the course of a year (2012-2013), the number of bikes quadrupled per day. Pedestrians were happier too, as the number of cyclists riding on the sidewalk went down by 25 per cent. At 700 kilometres, Calgary has the longest paved urban pathway system on the continent. With the addition of a downtown cycle track (and Calgary Transit’s recent announcement that all new buses will have bike racks), commuters can safely and efficiently travel from their homes in any quadrant of the city into the core. Calgarians may be surprised (and hopefully delighted) to learn that over the past five years, a multitude of downtown building owners have added up to 2,000 bike parking stalls in their buildings, telling their tenants and their employees they support their desire to embrace diverse transportation options.
We realize adoption will take time and people want to be involved in the process to understand where the proposed network will go and how it impacts them. We encourage Calgarians looking for more information on the cycle track network, to stop by the CORE Shopping Centre, Plus-15 level, by Holt Renfrew, this Monday to Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. to talk to the cycle track network team.
Bruce Graham is president and CEO of Calgary Economic Development.
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