City of Calgary is not being transparent with citizens on the 3rd Ave S cycle track project
Since the launch of the petition to save the 3rd Ave S downtown cycle track on June 27th 2023, the City of Calgary has not been transparent with citizens regarding Senior City Administration's backroom decision to flout the Downtown Strategy and numerous other City plans and policies by reclassifying the project as temporary. As the City now attempts to rationalize their plan to rip out the successful 3rd Ave S cycle track despite a chorus of community and business support to keep it, it's important to address a number of myths being shared by City of Calgary Administration.
MYTH #1: The 3rd Ave Cycle S cycle track was always intended to be temporary
In an act of bold revisionism, the City of Calgary and Cllr. Terry Wong have begun referring to the "3 Avenue South Walking and Wheeling Upgrades Project" as the "temporary 3 Avenue S. bike detour" after Project Calgary launched the petition to save the cycle track.
Cllr. Terry Wong has also been spreading misinformation (possibly unknowingly) that City Admin has "always" said the cycle track "is a temporary bike lane."
Cllr. Wong claims 3rd Ave cycle track was "always" temporary (left). City of Calgary recent renaming of project from "3rd Ave Walking and Wheeling Upgrades" to "temporary 3 Avenue S. bike detour" (right).
FACT: The 3 Avenue South Walking and Wheeling Upgrades Project was launched by the City of Calgary in August 2020. According to the City's own October 2020 What We Heard engagement report, the intent of the project was to "future-proof our pathway and bikeway network". It was also acknowledged "that future development in the Eau Claire Area means there will be a need for alternative routes for walking and wheeling when the existing Bow River Pathway is closed due to construction or in the event of high water levels on the Bow River".
Though the project was launched "in coordination" with the Eau Claire Area Improvements to facilitate temporary detours during the construction, the project was intended to ultimately "future-proof our pathway and bikeway network".
FACT: The 3rd Avenue Walking and Wheeling Upgrades project is cited in the City’s Downtown Strategy as a “strategic investment” in the plan to revitalize Calgary’s declining Downtown Core. It is not referred to as a "temporary detour".
Page 78 of Calgary's Downtown Strategy (April 2021) lists the 3 Avenue South walking and wheeling upgrades amongst a number of "Downtown Core Strategic investments".
FACT: The City's 2022 Chinatown Area Redevelopment Plan identifies 3rd Ave South as "recommended cycling network".
Page 73 of the Chinatown ARP (October 2022) identifies 3rd Ave S as part of the "recommended cycling network"
FACT: The City's 2022 Climate Strategy recommends repurposing lanes to "prioritize active mobility" to increase the mode share of zero emissions transportation modes.
Page 38-39 of the City's Climate Strategy boasts that "The City is leading by example" by building out Calgary's 5A network with a photo not far from where they now plan to rip out the 3rd Ave S cycle track.
FACT: 3rd Ave S was identified as a proposed bikeway in numerous City planning documents dating as far back as 2011.
Page 69 of the City of Calgary's Cycling Strategy (2011) identifying 3rd Ave S as part of the cycling network.
FACT: 3rd Ave S was identified as one of the busiest bike routes in the downtown even before the cycle track was installed.
City of Calgary 2018 bicycle volumes map showing 3rd Ave S as one of the busiest routes in the downtown and the city.
FACT: The City of Calgary has admitted that the project was redesignated from permanent to temporary. City of Calgary Downtown Strategy team notified community members in February 2023 of a "senior leadership decision" to remove the cycle track.
MYTH #2: The materials used for the 3 Ave S cycle track are temporary in nature and are reaching the end of their lifespan
FACT: The 3rd Ave S cycle track is built with the same "temporary" materials as numerous (much older) cycle track routes in Calgary. To date, the City has not used this as an excuse to rip out other sections of the (5A) protected Cycle Track Network.
Crescent Road NW cycle track - rubber curbs and plastic bollards, installed January 2021.
|5 St SW cycle track - plastic bollards, installed 2015.|
3rd Ave S cycle track condition shows only light wear and tear as of summer 2023 (installed late 2021)
|3rd Ave S cycle track condition as of summer 2023 (installed late 2021)|
MYTH #3: The 3rd Ave S cycle track must be ripped out to make way for Green Line construction
FACT: According to the City's Green Line project detailed construction info page, planned construction will only impact two of the ten intersections (2 St SW and 1 St SW) along the entire length of the 3rd Ave S cycle track running from 8 St SW to Centre Street.
City of Calgary Green Line construction information shows only one or two blocks of disruption to the 8-block long 3rd Avenue S cycle track.
FACT: Green Line deep utility relocation work in the Beltline has forced temporary closures on sections of the 12 Ave S cycle track (also made of the same "temporary" materials), however, the City has not communicated that they will be permanently ripping out the cycle track as a result.
Deep utility relocation in the Beltline has caused the temporary closure (but not permanent removal) of the 12 Ave S cycle track.
MYTH #4: More engagement and studies are needed for a permanent cycle track on 3rd Ave S
FACT: The City of Calgary is still suppressing the release of the promised 3 Avenue South Walking & Wheeling Upgrades Street Metrics Summary, which has been obtained by Project Calgary under Freedom of Information (FOI) request. According to a the report, the cycle track saw a massive 6x increase in the number of people wheeling on 3rd Ave South in the first year alone. The report also concluded that the majority of post-installation survey respondents reported feeling safe on the street and satisfied with the upgrades.
The 3rd Ave S cycle track has clearly been a huge success. So why is the City now pushing more surveys?
The City's unreleased 3 Avenue South Walking & Wheeling Upgrades Street Metrics Summary shows a massive 6x increase in people cycling on 3rd Ave South. It was supposed to be publicly released in Fall/Winter 2022 but is still withheld from the public as of June 2023. The report was recently obtained by Project Calgary through FOIP.
FACT: A multitude of Greater Downtown organizations spanning community associations, arts and culture groups, social enterprises, private developers and businesses are asking the City to stand up for its Greater Downtown Strategy and keep the 3rd Avenue cycle track to support downtown community safety and vibrancy.
Mayor Gondek must defend the Downtown Strategy (and Climate Strategy)!
There's still time to save the cycle track!
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