Calgary has joined the growing number of cities across North America that have made commitments to improving cycling infrastructure. Dedicated bike lanes and separated cycle tracks with protective barriers do a lot to improve safety for cyclists. They also encourage more people to ditch single-occupancy vehicles in favour of a greener, healthier alternative.
However, Cycle tracks create new kinds of navigation challenges, especially at intersections and in other places where bike lanes meet motorized vehicle traffic. To help keep everyone safe, it’s a good idea to review the rules of these Calgary cycle tracks as they apply to both drivers and riders.
How the Cycle Tracks Were Developed
Calgary’s new cycle tracks grew out of a pilot project. In December 2016, Calgary’s city council voted in favour of keeping the cycle tracks in place permanently. Council also agreed to use a budget surplus of $1.65 million left over from the pilot project to make further improvements to the cycle tracks.
The city is now home to 6.5 kilometres of bike lanes incorporated into the centre city road infrastructure. This is on top of close to 1,000 kilometres of pathways. Cycling is popular in Calgary, and officials estimate that the new downtown cycle tracks saw 1.2 million bicycle trips between June, 2015 and November, 2016. More statistics and figures can be found on the City of Calgary’s cycle track information page.
Permanent cycle tracks are now in place in three primary locations:
- The east side of 5 Street, between 3 Ave. SW and 17 Ave. SW
- The north side of 12 Avenue, between 11 St. SW and 4 St. SE
- The north and south sides of 8 Avenue and 9 Avenue, between 11 St. SW and 3 St. SW, and 4 St. SE and Macleod Trail
Some of the cycle tracks are designed for two-way, bicycle-only travel, while others permit travel in one direction only. Here is a breakdown of cycle tracks by type, along with a map that shows Calgary’s cycle track network.
How to Navigate the Cycle Tracks
Cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians all have roles to play when it comes to keeping the cycle tracks safe. Here are some general safety rules for drivers:
- Always look both ways before entering traffic or crossing a cycle track
- Yield to cyclists in the cycle track when turning across one
- Do a shoulder check before initiating your turn to see if any cyclists are approaching from behind you
Cyclists also need to pay close attention to the signage on the cycle tracks and follow these other important safety tips:
- Obey all bike-specific signs and signals
- Be aware of your surroundings and watch for motorized vehicles at all times
- Do not wear earbuds or anything else that interferes with your hearing while cycling
- Maintain a speed that allows you to stop safely on short notice
Some cycle tracks also have dedicated turn boxes, which act as signals for bicycle traffic. Obey them just as you would if you were driving and encountered a regular overhead traffic light. Pay special attention to turn boxes that are located in front of pedestrian crossings, as you will need to stop before entering the crossing to allow pedestrians to walk safely.
The cycle tracks have also created some multi-use crossings, which both cyclists and pedestrians can use. Follow these safety rules when you encounter them:
- Drivers should watch carefully for cyclists and pedestrians in both directions
- Cyclists should look out for turning vehicles and ride slowly so as not to endanger pedestrians
- Pedestrians should remember that they are sharing the crossing with cyclists, and they should also stay on the lookout for turning vehicles at all times
A complete list of cycle track safety rules for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians is available here.
Considerations for Bicycle Insurance
If you own a particularly valuable bicycle, you may need to declare it separately on your home or tenant insurance policy. This will ensure you’re carrying adequate insurance protection to cover its replacement cost or cash value. Most home, condo, and tenant insurance policies also take care of liabilities incurred as the result of cycling. If you rent and you don’t have tenant insurance, it is recommended that you purchase it.
For more information, please refer to this previously published article or contact your insurance provider.
Lane’s Insurance Brokers for All Insurance Coverage
Lane’s Insurance is a leading provider of home insurance in Calgary, and essential policies for motorists, cyclists, and everyone in between. Lane’s partners with the province’s most trusted carriers to provide exceptional coverage at very competitive rates.
To learn more, visit Lane’s Insurance.