Let’s put the proposed Macleod Tr. bike track to the test.

Nobody should fear a test unless they have reason to believe that they will fail it.

To say that taking a lane from Macleod Tr. Southbound (1 St. SE) in Calgary’s downtown in order to give the space to a tiny minority of bicycle commuters is a radical plan would be a gross understatement.

Calgary transportation planning appears to be actually trying to go ahead and take away 25% of the lane space from a piece of roadway that services 25,000 vehicles per day. This initiative appears to be based on some very weak speculation and projections of how much further Calgary’s traffic will be congested or how many new cyclists such a plan could draw. It doesn’t take a deep study to know that the claim by the transportation department that such a move would only increase people’s commute time by one minute to know that such a statement is nothing less than utter hogwash.

Calgary taxpayers paid tens of millions of dollars to build the roadways that will be covered by this rather aggressive cycle track network plan. It is not too much to ask to see some simple testing conducted to assure us that the impact upon downtown traffic will be reasonable and that these invisible thousands of potential cyclists will indeed pop out of the woodwork?

We should put the Macleod Tr. bike track to the test by temporarily setting the track up and getting true, hard figures on how well this may or may not work. Again, when we are talking about 10s of millions of dollars in infrastructure at risk here, the cost of such a test is negligible. No more cute artist’s depictions of how the new street would look. No more projected numbers on how many people would give up their cars in favor of a bicycle. Let’s lay down the barriers and see how it goes.

The required barriers are cheap and doubtless the city keeps them in stock for construction projects.

barrierThere are plastic barriers that are very cheap and easy to install as well.


For intersections, temporary lights have been used on construction projects for decades. We are in the days where a $50 cell phone can store and play an entire feature film. Programing temporary traffic signals is pretty easy.

stoplightWe will need a little painting done. We know that we have spare city staff as they used 10 of them to paint the simple little green box below and now are all fully qualified in road painting.

bikeWith one weekend of construction we could take the lane from Macleod Tr. South and give it to those masses of awaiting cyclists. Let’s say we do this in May so the proponents can’t use the weather excuse and let’s say we leave the barriers up for a full 30 days.

With such a simple and reasonable test we can find out definitively just how traffic will be impacted by this proposed bike track. We will also find out how many new cycle commuters will be drawn to the new track. Most importantly, we will give commuters and businesses downtown a good taste of what the cycle plan has in mind for them as they target all of Calgary’s busiest central roadways for more cycle tracks.

The cycle proponents should be thrilled with such a concept. They are confident that most Calgarians want to give up main roadways for cycle tracks. They are confident that thousands of auto commuters are just waiting to cycle to work every day but have not done so due to the lack of a track. This experiment should prove the cycle advocates correct right?

Imagine how easy it will be to sell future bike tracks once Calgarians see that traffic is not impacted and that the bike lane looks like a scene from a Norman Rockwell painting with commuters on bicycles mingling with happy families all riding together with beatific smiles on their faces as they enjoy these vibrant, sustainable lanes!


Doing tests and pilot projects for major changes to roads is actually standard practice in many Calgary transportation initiatives despite their not doing this with the bike track plans.  When I was living in the Northwest a couple years ago, temporary barriers were installed along 4 st NW as a pilot project for traffic calming. The barriers were changed and moved a couple times after real impacts were measured and citizen input was taken into account (people in the neighborhood were not pleased).

On Macleod Tr. South, a pilot project was undertaken to change morning congestion around Avenida as things had been bottlenecking. As can be seen with this detailed report, the pilot project led to a significant saving in commuter time and was made permanent. Had the project not aided traffic flow, it simply would have been scrapped. This is simple good planning. There is no reason why such pilots and tests can’t be applied to cycle tracks.

Edmonton Trail and Memorial have both seen major pilot projects on traffic flow and doubtless every major road in the city has seen some testing at one time or another.

Let’s put this whole debate to rest and put the case for cycle tracks at the expense of major road arteries to rest once and for all!

I suspect that the cycle track proponents will adamantly oppose the concept of such a test for the reason stated in the very first sentence of this posting.

I can oppose this without supporting that.

In February 2012, federal Justice Minister Vic Toews managed to do a remarkable thing; he made a statement so offensive in defense of his flawed legislation that he managed to unite the left and the right in opposition to him. The bill was C-30 which would have given sweeping powers to authorities to snoop upon people’s private internet communications purportedly to help reduce child porn trade.

As opposition to this bill grew, an agitated Vic Toews stood up in the House of Commons to state to a Liberal critic: “He (Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia (Lac-Saint-Louis, Lib.)) can either stand with us or with the child pornographers.

In one statement Toews managed to outrage political watchers across the entire spectrum as he ridiculously and offensively tried to imply that anybody who opposed his legislation is a supporter of child pornography. Bill C-30 was eventually withdrawn due to mass public opposition to it. That does not happen often with a majority government.

That sort of vapid debate tactic is unfortunately in common use when people are discussing issues that get emotional. Most recently I saw this as I wrote upon the folly of Calgary’s city hall trying to legislate a ban on sharkfin soup. My entire point was that it simply is not within a municipal government’s jurisdiction to legislate what kind of food we can eat no matter how horribly the food was harvested. This brought about all sorts of responses about how terrible shark finning is to the point where one hammerhead said my article was essentially saying I condoned people going to the SPCA to pick up a puppy to eat.

No matter how many horrors are brought up, it does not change the reality that it simply is not the role of our city council to legislate on this. It does not matter if the sharks were subjected to electroshock torture while being repeatedly sodomized by the fisherman while watching Lindsay Lohan trying to act before their fins were cut from them and they were tossed back into the sea, it is not relevant to the discussion of municipal jurisdiction. This is not simply my opinion, this is how courts have ruled in Canada thus it is silly and wasteful to direct civic resources towards this issue.

To claim that pointing these jurisdictional realities out is being supportive of animal abuse is simply shallow and foolish and does nothing to address real issues.

I figure I may as well list a few other areas where this baseless type of debate is often used and will likely be used again so I may link people here when they try it.

I can oppose legislation relating to natives as well as the activists and proponents of those legislations without being a racist. This applies to pretty much any legislation that effects or is being promoted by any person of an identifiable group.

I can support changing Canada’s failing healthcare system without wanting to change it to the American system. There are hundreds of systems and dozens that surpass Canada’s in terms of both cost and outcomes. I really don’t care what happens in the USA in that regard. It is irrelevant and acting as if there are only two healthcare systems on the planet is simply stupid and is hindering real reforms.

I can oppose having Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan without being supportive of the Taliban. How many more good Canadians need to die in that stone age state with no visible signs of them growing out of being a vicious theocracy?

I can oppose bicycle infrastructure being constructed at the expense of existing automotive  infrastructure without being “anti-bicycle”. I can take issue with the exaggeration of demand for these bike lanes and prove the lack of use of them without being anti-bike too. I find this one ironic as one of the more prolific bicycle zealots in the social media world loves to send expletive laden rants at me accusing me of being anti-bike. Meanwhile his handle is @carfreeyyc and he personifies the anti-car movement quite well to the point of wearing it on his figurative internet sleeve. Most bicycle aficionados are not anti-automobile but their activist element certainly is as can be seen in the crazy ImagineCalgary city plans.

I can oppose many of the flawed animal rights legislations that have been tabled without supporting animal abuse. I want to see stronger penalties for cruelty to animals but activists have to stop inserting clauses trying to take away the property status of animals if they want these legislations to pass.

I can oppose capital punishment without being supportive of <insert crime here>.

The examples are endless but I have covered the main ones that I see directed at me anyway. Many things are debatable and all legislation should be. Opposing a piece of legislation does not mean that one condones the act that the legislation is supposed to address. We can never let people try to stifle rationed debate by implying such.