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Calgarian advocates for safer cycling link between Airdrie and Calgary

A Calgarian bicycle path advocate said he intends to reach out to Airdrie City council to explore the feasibility of providing a safer cycling link between the two cities.

A Calgarian bicycle lane advocate said he intends to reach out to Airdrie City council to explore the feasibility of providing a safer cycling link between the two cities.

Matthew Hicks is a Ramsay-based photographer whose real estate photography work occasionally brings him to Airdrie. He said he recently decided to transition his business to being bicycle-based, to help reduce his carbon footprint.

“It turned out to be very easy to bike to Airdrie, because it’s only 30 to 35 kilometres from my house,” he said. “The main barrier turned out to be the infrastructure.”

To cycle to Airdrie, Hicks said he travels up Calgary’s dedicated pathway system until he’s in the northern outskirts of the city. He then traverses to 15th Street NE, which he takes to cross under Stoney Trail. He then continues through Balzac along Range Road 11, which eventually turns into 8 Street once he's reached Airdrie city limits.

“I’ll bike up 8 Street into town and there’s no shoulder, so there will be cars going past me at 100 kilometres per hour,” he said. “It’s terrifying and a huge barrier to anyone else doing the same thing.”

To address the issue, Hicks said he is submitting a letter to the municipal councils of Airdrie, Calgary and Rocky View County to inquire about the possibility of widening the shoulder on 8 Street north of Highway 566 and paving 15th Street NE. He said he feels these improvements would be “very incremental and doable.”

Though he would prefer to see a dedicated bicycle pathway that links Calgary and Airdrie, Hicks acknowledged such infrastructure would require a much more significant amount of funding – not to mention political buy-in from the three municipalities’ councils.

“I don’t have huge hopes,” he said. “All I want is a little space for active transport – bikes and that sort of thing. Ideally, I’d love to have a separated path connecting the two cities, but the will has to be there for that, as well as funding."

While a dedicated cycling path might be less feasible than improvements to existing roadways, Hicks said a current link between Calgary and Chestermere is proof that safe inter-municipal bike transportation can come to fruition.

“I could see that happening very easily between Calgary and Airdrie,” he said. “I could even see people commuting between Calgary and Airdrie [by bike]. Along the existing routes, I’ve actually managed to do it in just over an hour. It seems like a long way but it’s really not.”

Hicks said the perfect solution to improve the safety of cycling between Calgary and Airdrie would be the installation of a paved, four-metre-wide pathway that runs parallel to the Canadian Pacific Railway line and Nose Creek.

“I think that would have a lot more of an impact because you would have families out doing recreational cycling,” he said. “It would be something fun to do as opposed to being on the shoulder of a busy road.”

Scott Strasser,
Follow me on Twitter @scottstrasser19

Scott Strasser

About the Author: Scott Strasser

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