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.

©Image by City of Calgary, 2013An 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.

©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013As 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

©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013Calgary’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.

©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013Calgary 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.

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013

Calgary, Bow Pathway

Cycling for transportation has progressed from sunny days, to rainy days, to fall days and now is penetrating into winter days, no matter the temperature or snow or ice on the road and bike paths.

Back in the 1990’s when snow started to settle onto Toronto and the temperatures plunged below freezing, it was time to park the bike for the winter and switch to using the subway and transit system.  More…..

©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013As cycling advocates we spend significant time for the purpose of realizing significant growth of cycling traffic in our cities, provinces, and country.  As advocates, significant growth will only come from focusing on enticing car drivers to give cycling a chance as an alternate transportation mode or in combination with transit or car trips.  We can see the success of many cities in gaining significant cycling traffic growth within a short time frame from a couple of years to five years.  Usually this was achieved through upgrading the cycling networks, upgrading the cycling infrastructure design toolkits, or through marketing.  Usually Copenhagen is used as an example, a city that has achieved a 4% growth within two years.  More…..

From the Calgary Herald:

From the Calgary Herald:    “a proposal to allow bikes on Stephen Avenue Walk is drawing criticism” from the Calgary Downtown Association.  “Maggie Schofield, the executive director of the Calgary Downtown Association, supports much of the plan, but said allowing bikes on the popular pedestrian stroll on 8th Avenue S.W. will compromise the safety of pedestrians and a public amenity well-used by tourists in an area of downtown that is not popular with bicycle commuters.  “(Our concern) is totally about pedestrian safety,” Schofield said. “People are comfortable walking and not paying attention to this kind of thing. We have tourists and historical tours down there … we are worried about conflicts.”  ©Photograph by JL Chong, 2013  “a proposal to allow bikes on Stephen Avenue Walk is drawing criticism” from the Calgary Downtown Association.

“Maggie Schofield, the executive director of the Calgary Downtown Association, supports much of the plan, but said allowing bikes on the popular pedestrian stroll on 8th Avenue S.W. will compromise the safety of pedestrians and a public amenity well-used by tourists in an area of downtown that is not popular with bicycle commuters.

“(Our concern) is totally about pedestrian safety,” Schofield said. “People are comfortable walking and not paying attention to this kind of thing. We have tourists and historical tours down there … we are worried about conflicts.”



©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013“2014-02-05:  Engaging both new and seasoned cyclists of all ages, as well as those who want to bike but may not feel comfortable, is what the city centre cycle track network is all about, according to Ryan Murray, a spokesperson with the City of Calgary.

“The cycle tracks we’re proposing, they’re really built for everyone. We’re not just looking for people who have a bike in their garage now,” he said.

“With cycle tracks, it’s a new way of thinking about transportation in Calgary and it’s an important way to think about transportation in Calgary. We want to offer that choice that doesn’t exist now . . . Cycle tracks are built for people to use who are eight to 80. It’s really transportation for all.”

Read more …..

Against the call that property taxes cannot be increased, people are supporting increased taxation for transit.

A principle: Growth of cycling as a mode of transportation is stimulated with quality transit services.  For people, cycling is an effective and appealing feeder mode to transit stops.  For people, cycling extends trip distances and increases transit ridership when cyclists can take their bicycles on transit vehicles.

Politicians are telling us that the level of property tax has hit the pinnacle.  Politicians are telling us that property tax cannot be increased.  Maybe the public, the taxpayers of the property tax, are telling us something else?

In a number of municipalities in North America, residents are supporting initiatives for more taxation for transit if the taxation is linked directly to improvements in transit availability.  With their pocketbooks they are supporting transit levies of various forms.

In a recently released document, again resident of a municipality are supporting greater availability of transit.  This time, the question dealt with an increase in property taxes for that purpose.  Only a small portion did not support any increase.  Half of the respondents supported an increase of $25 to $75.

From the Transit Future Plan, Sunshine Coast, Draft Nov 2013


The Sunshine Coast Regional District is a region located on the northern side of Metro Vancouver with a population of 28,000 that swells in the summer months.   The SCRD covers an area of 3.780 sq. km.

The message:

Majority of survey respondents were willing to support an increase in taxes to implement increased transit service on the Sunshine Coast.

From the study:

Survey - Willingness to Pay for Transit through Property Tax

Survey – Willingness to Pay for Transit through Property Tax Increases

Highlights from the report:


Sunshine Coast Transit is an essential component of our sustainable community and a preferred method of travel. It enhances mobility by providing a convenient, reliable and affordable alternative to the car that is aligned with sustainable land use decisions and fully integrated with other transport options.


The Transit Future Plan sets a transit mode share target of 5.4 percent for all trips by 2038, which will require the Sunshine Coast transit ridership to grow from 0.5 to 1.8 million trips per year. This target aligns with the Provincial Transit Plan’s transit mode share target for regional centres in British Columbia.

Moving in Metro, A Summit on Mobility Pricing for Roads in Metro Vancouver, 2013-11-29

Today, I attended a summit on mobility pricing.  Not sure why it was called mobility pricing.  The discussion was really on road pricing for cars, motorcycles, and trucks.  The application of mobility pricing on transit did not come about.

The pre-meeting material provided and discussions at the Summit gave an opportunity to reflect on my thinking on road pricing.   Road pricing schemes are normally categorized as corridor schemes; area schemes, also called cordon schemes or congestion charges; and full network pricing.

Reflecting on road pricing schemes and arguments for each option, my preference is for a full network, variable-pricing scheme that;

  • penalizes drivers during periods within a day based on each period’s traffic levels in relations to a municipality’s transportation mode share target for cars;
  • promotes the use of smaller cars and smaller engines;
  • penalizes driving within catchment areas of rapid transit corridors; and
  • funds a comprehensive citywide network of rapid and semi-rapid transit.

During the Summit, Richard Walton, Mayor of North Vancouver District made a significant comment that road pricing is not about taxation, it is about “Buying Time” on the road; it is about “Buying Road Space”.  A total different focus.  No longer is it a taxation issue but a user charge or rent for occupying space issue.  After all, is that not what you do when you check into a hotel for a night???  Do you not rent space; space to live; space to sleep?

With Mayor Walton’s words, the dialogue changes completely.  Motorists flawed arguments and claims that they pay for the roads through their taxes become irrelevant.  Now it is more about time and space renting.

With these words, any arguments that commercial vehicles should get any discounting fall apart.  In fact, these words lead to their paying more based on the length of the vehicles compared to cars, usually 1.5 to 4 times larger.  So, should the bill be greater.  Maybe this should also apply to car owners, the smaller the car, the lower the usage fee is.

If a city wants to be aggressive in reducing car traffic, then it may adopt a car mode share target achieved by leading greener cities in the 27% to 30% range.  If a city wants to be daring but not quiet that daring, then maybe a 35% to 40% level may be more reasonable to its residents.

Usually, cities set their transportstion mode share in a simplified manner for cars, transit, cycling, and walking.  Actual usage of these modes may be significantly different.  Combined mobility trips are not counted by mode but by the mode used for the longest distance in any trip.

For more accurate tracking of transportation mode usage and for gauging the success of any program to reduce car usage, my preference would be for the targets to be set, such as:

Walking                                   17%

Walking to transit stops >450 metres                      3%

Cycling                                      20%

Transit                                      20%

Combined Mobility                 15%

Transit and Cycling – Personal bicycle                     7%

Transit and Cycling – Public Bike Share System    3%

Driving and Cycling – Personal Bicycle                     4%

Driving and Cycling – Public Bike Share System     1%

Car                                              27%

Driver                                                                                   24%

Passenger                                                                               3%

Other                                           1%

With this set of mode share targets, cycling would be involved in 35%, transit in 30%, and car trips in 32% of all trips.

A grey morning.  Snow falling and whipped around by the wind.

Ahhh, winter has arrived.  Time to mount the studded tires on to the city bicycle.

For the last years now, removal of snow for facilitating winter cycling has increased in interest in North America.  In fact, a conference on winter clearing of cycling infrastructure will be held in Winnipeg this winter.  2nd International Winter Cycling Congress, 2014-02-12-13, http://wintercyclingcongresswinnipeg.org.

Now, in Copenhagen, clearing of the cycle tracks takes priority over the roads.  In Calgary, the city started to clear some of the pathway system along the Bow and the Elbow Rivers years ago.  This followed years of where cyclists kept the paths open with their own snow blade pulled by the first cyclist on the way to work or to home each day.  Public demand keeps increasing the city’s snow clearing effort.  More and more the pathways along these two rivers and along Nose Creek are added to the program.  Snow clearing starts at 7:00 am in the morning or earlier.

©Courtesy of Bike Calgary, 2013

©Courtesy of Bike Calgary, 2013

Last year, bike lanes on roads were added to the program and is in the teething stage of snow clearance.  The local Bike Calgary organization is providing daily reports on the snow clearing performance of the city.

Snow Ploughing the Separated Bike Lanes, 7th St., Calgary AB. ©Photograph by Jean L Chong, 2013

Snow Ploughing the Separated Bike Lanes, 7th St.SW, Calgary AB. ©Photograph by J.L. Chong, 2013

This year, the new separated bike lanes in downtown Calgary were added to the program.  The path and separated bike lane snow clearing crew were out early beating the road clearing crew to 7th Street SW.Cyclist after Snowfall on the Separated Bike Lanes, 7th St., Calgary AB. ©Photograph by Jean L Chong, 2013

Cyclist after Snowfall on the Separated Bike Lanes, 7th St.SW, Calgary AB. ©Photograph by J.L. Chong, 2013
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013

©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013

The distance from Vancouver BC to Seattle WA is about 230 km from downtown to downtown along major roads, expressway and interstate highway. Is it a dream that some day there may be a separated route for cyclists to make this journey?

Cycling from Toronto to Montreal can be done along the Waterfront Trail. These cities are about 550 kilometres apart. The trip can be cycled in 3 days to 5 days depending on one’s personal stamina. The trail has various forms of separation along the way including bike lanes and paved shoulders along with some minor roads with very light car traffic. The Province of Québec’s portion is on one of the La Route Verte’s routes.

A trail has been developed from London, England top Paris, France with the same type of infrastructure and a ferry crossing of the English Channel.

So, is it a dream to hope for a separated trail between Vancouver and Seattle or is it an emerging reality? While it may be more distance between the two cities by cycling than driving, already 40% of the direct distance has bike trails and additional distance can be covered on roads with bike-lanes and paved shoulders.

If one decides on the Anacortes, WA to Sidney, BC option, then the Anacortes Bike Route and the Lochside trail provides additional separated bike trail distances.

There is still 2.3 km of rail-trail to be completed on the Centennial Trail in Snohomish County. In Vancouver, cycling enthusiasts are calling for the development of the Arbutus rail-trail that would connect downtown to the bike path on the Canada Line Bridge to Richmond. Within Richmond, there is opportunity to extend the Shell Trail. In Surrey, a bike path through a bird sanctuary could be added to a cycling route reducing the distance on roads. There is work being done with First Nations and the local city on developing a trail from Blaine to Tsawwassen to Ladner and the George Massey Tunnel. All of these initiatives would move closer to the dream.

What other developments or cycling advocate visions are there to make a separated bike route between these two cities a reality, providing a cycling option for people of all ages, abilities, and cycling risk-taking?

The dream lives on while some trips between these two cities are being completed by cycling or by combined mobility trips using Amtrak Cascadia trains with its bike racks in the luggage cars and with reservable bike space. No longer is boxing a bike required on these trains. Just wheel your bicycle up to the luggage car and let the car attendant put it into a bike rack.

Read more….

H-JEH Becker, Velo.Urbanism, 2013

©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013, unless otherwise noted. If you wish to expand the size of any image, then click on the image.

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