Bike Lanes in Calgary: A Concern
With the downtown cycletrack fully open now, thought it would be a good opportunity to share a concern I had with the bike lanes in Calgary.. actually, just one in particular. Not with the track itself but the behavior of cyclists when intersecting with pedestrians.
If you’ve ever lived downtown or spent time in the core you’ll have noticed how people cross the street, especially along 7th avenue, where they’ll step out into the intersection to cross before the ‘walk’ signal begins. People do it to get a head start on their way. They watch the traffic signals going the other direction and step out when it’s safe, having been through about a hundred billion of them, I get it and do it myself.
It’s not exactly dangerous, so long as you pay close attention to your surroundings and watch for vehicles/trains.
Enter the bike lanes and human behavior. As you are aware, most drivers/riders actually speed up when approaching a yellow (amber) light rather than slow down and wait for the next green.
Sweet Gif Action
Combining these two things, along 7th street, is dangerous. I’ll explain.
When a vehicle is traveling down 7th street and the light changes to yellow, they’ll speed up if they have enough time to cross or slow down and stop if they don’t. People are also watching for this. Nothing new here.
When someone on a bike is traveling towards the 7th ave and 7th street sw intersection, in the bike lane, and their signal changes to yellow, they do the same thing as vehicles. They speed up to try and get through the intersection before the flow in traffic changes. The problem with this is cyclists are not as fast as vehicles.
So now you have a person on a bike half way through the intersection when pedestrians step out to begin crossing the street. Even if pedestrians are looking for the cyclists coming towards them, it’s not that easy to spot them, or for the cyclist to see the pedestrians and stop in time.
This leads to constant near misses and even some collisions of cyclists running into pedestrians. In fact my buddy @DaveMurYYC witnessed someone on a bike smashing into a pedestrian at this very intersection. This is the intersection at 7th and 7th sw;
Bike Lanes in Calgary: A Solution?
The traffic lights for vehicles and bicycles run on the same timers, they change at the same time. Changing the timer on the traffic signals for the bike lane to changing a few seconds earlier might fix this. If a cyclist sees the light changing, they’ll either speed up or stop, but speeding up won’t result in possibly smashing into pedestrians.
I put a bunch of animated gifs in this post for no reason other than to have animated gifs in this post for no reason. Talking about the bike lanes in Calgary seemed like a good enough place as any.
Kinda miss Geocities.