More bike paths, less car culture

Whoa.  We’re having a big soapbox time at CC.    As some of you may have noticed, I’ve posted a bit on biking in Calgary in the winter and on its bike paths.  Starting back in October, for a variety of reasons, I started using a bike as my main commuting option for going to work.  I love biking in any weather.  Biking also keeps you feeling healthy, its a great stress reliever and it’s good cardio.  Also, when biking to work, it’s convenient exercise.  The time I’d spend sitting in a car going to work, I’m exercising and leaving more time in the day for other things.

However, lately, I’ve noticed how much biking on Calgary roadways is often less-desirable.  Currently, I bike on some fairly busy roads, including Nosehill Drive and the length of Country Hills Boulevard.  These roads are generally 60 km/h speed limits, but are four lane roadways.  In some sections of Country Hills Blvd, the speed limit increases to 80 km/h.  (Whether people actually do the speed limits is another issue.) Construction usually slows these areas down, but adds its own danger for cyclists.   Sadly, there are no bike paths near these roads and none that follow a west to east (or vice versa) commute along the North of the city.  Right now, most bike paths in Calgary focus on the downtown commute and if heading downtown, you can usually hook up with a dedicated bike path after a few minutes of road biking. 

I don’t mind biking on the road, but I get tired of the ‘car culture’ and drivers who don’t respect cyclists.  Daily, I experience people passing me at high rates of speed, revving their engines while going past, seemingly pissed off that I’m on the road.   Or there are those that speed up and pass near an off-ramp just to cut me off.  There are those that pass exceptionally close to you in huge pickup trucks or SUVs, almost hitting your handle bars.  And of course, there are a few idiots who pull up close to you and honk and or jeer out their window.  (This isn’t even late at night!) Yesterday, a guy even said, "Get a car ,you loser!"  To be honest, I was surprised and not surprised at these attitudes. 

Because Calgary is a spread out city and the typification of urban sprawl, cars are a necessity for most.  The distances between one area and the other are surprising and its often that it’ll be a 20-25 km drive to the downtown area from the outskirts.  Nevertheless, Calgary is known to be a fitness oriented city.  It’s close to the mountains, there are many parks and its not unusual to see many runners out on the lunch hour and after work in certain areas of the city.  That is what surprises me in the attitudes I experience I guess. 

Because I bike through three city ‘wards’, governed by three different
aldermen, I can’t see many changes being instituted.  But maybe, the three: Dale Hodges, Gord Lowe and Helene Larocque will recognize the need for more bike paths in the north of Calgary and put a plan into place for an east west bike corridor.  Here’s to hoping anyway.


One thought on “More bike paths, less car culture

  1. Davey…love that you are posting ‘soapbox’ entries ’cause it’s a good venting system and lets people know that things should be changed. As a person who doesn’t own a car quite yet (6 more months of being a student), I walk to most places in Halifax and use the ‘ok’ metro transit system. I think that people should respect anyone who uses alternative sources of transport. Its not a good thing to be snubbed when choosing to bike to work, which provides exercise, saves the environment and some of the impact on the pocketbook. I can relate to your experience of the attitudes of car-users, almsot being run over a few times (at cross walks during the day!!) isn’t too much fun. I know that Hali has plans for additional bike paths towards Bedford, so hopefully both cities will be able to provide safer areas for those who choose greener alternatives to the gas-guzzlers.


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