It would have been hard to predict that the Calgary mayor whose top priority was to declare a climate emergency in 2021 might be ripping out a cycle track just two years later like Toronto's infamous anti-bike former Mayor Rob Ford did in 2012, but that's where things are currently headed in Calgary this fall.
Mayor Gondek has been busy boasting about Calgary's Downtown Strategy in the media but still remains silent on Senior City Administration's backroom plan to rip out the 3rd Avenue South Cycle track, an identified "strategic investment" in the very same Downtown Strategy she claims to support.
Will Mayor Gondek defend the Downtown Strategy (and Climate Strategy) or will she be the first Calgary mayor to rip out a bike lane?
City Administration latest excuse makes no sense
After first claiming that the 3rd Ave South cycle track was always meant to be temporary, then admitting a day later that they changed the project to be temporary at the last minute without telling anyone, over one month after Project Calgary launched the campaign to save the 3rd Ave South cycle track, City Administration now has a crafty new excuse for subverting the Downtown Strategy: Green Line construction!
Project Calgary has obtained an internal City of Calgary memo sent to City Council sharing the newly composed rationale. Unfortunately for them, the latest excuse does not stand up to the facts.
1) The 3rd Ave S cycle track was intended to "create resilience" in the pathway network
According to the City of Calgary's 3 Avenue South Walking and Wheeling Upgrades October 2020 "What we Heard" report, the 3rd Ave South cycle track was planned to be a "dedicated" option to "future-proof our pathway and bikeway network" and acknowledged "that future development in the Eau Claire Area means there will be 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".
Eau Claire Area and Green Line construction is even more reason why we need to keep the 3rd Ave South cycle track - so why is City Administration trying to permanently rip it out?
2) Green Line construction has forced temporary removal of sections of the 12th Ave S cycle track, but not permanent removal as proposed on 3rd Ave S
Deep utility relocation work for the Green Line construction through the Beltline has been causing major disruption to the 12 Ave South cycle track for an extended period. However, even though it is made of the same temporary materials as the 3rd Ave South cycle track, the sections of the 12th Ave South cycle track closed for construction will be restored when construction is completed.
So why would City Administration restore the 12th Ave South cycle track after Green Line construction but not the 3rd Ave South cycle track?
The City's Downtown Strategy identifies 3rd Avenue South Walking and Wheeling upgrades as a strategic investment.
3) Green Line construction will only interfere with a small segment of the 3rd Ave S cycle track
According to the City of Calgary's Green Line project detailed construction info webpage, planned construction will only impact the intersections around 2 St SW and 1 St SW. But the 3rd Ave S cycle track runs from 8 St SW to Centre St S. So why permanently remove an 8-block section of cycle track when you only need to temporarily close one or two blocks?
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.
Cllr Wong defends City Administration's plans to rip out the cycle track
While Greater Downtown Councillor Walcott has come out as a strong proponent of saving the 3rd Ave South cycle track, Councillor Wong has come to the defence of Senior Administration's backroom plan to rip it out. In a recent Twitter post, he also appears to spread misinformation that "Admin has [a]lways said the 3rd Ave bike land is a temporary bike lane". As we have shown in the above, this is in fact false.
Mayor Gondek must defend the Downtown Strategy (and Climate Strategy)!
There's still time to save the cycle track!
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