Bike Calgary's Letter to the Minister of Transportation
Please read the letter below written by Bike Calgary and send us your feedback as we will be sending a letter of support of the changes suggested by Bike Calgary.
February 5th, 2015
The Honourable Wayne Drysdale, M.L.A.,
Minister of Transportation
324 Legislature Building
10800 97 Avenue
Canada T5K 2B6
Re-Bike Calgary comments and suggestions for changes to provincial Traffic Safety Act regulations
We are writing to you on behalf of Bike Calgary. Bike Calgary is a Calgary based organization dedicated to promoting bicycling as an accessible form of transportation for all Calgarians. Bike Calgary works to represent the interests of our members to various levels of government and to the community at large.
The Province of Alberta is currently soliciting input from Albertans on changes to provincial Traffic Safety Act regulations and has developed Traffic Safety Plan 2015(1), which focuses on a Safer Systems Approach to road safety. At the same time, Alberta municipalities have recognized the need to provide transportation choices to their citizens. In Calgary, for example, a number of policy documents include developing and maintaining bicycle infrastructure as key objectives. These policy documents include:
● City of Calgary Transportation Plan (2009)2;
● City of Calgary Cycling Strategy (2011)3 ; and
● City of Calgary Complete Streets Guide (2014)4.
As a result of these policies, the City of Calgary has deployed various types of bicycle infrastructure including bike lanes, buffered bike lanes and cycle tracks, along with associated bike boxes, “Copenhagen Left” channelized turns, and conflict paint markings. These improvements are contributing to more Calgarians cycling throughout more of the year.
We believe this is the opportune time for the Province to develop a regulatory framework that both strengthens protection for cyclists as vulnerable road users and supports the direction being taken by municipalities in offering transportation choices to their citizens. This
regulatory framework should include comprehensive motorist education and testing, specific legislation aimed to encourage the safe operation of motor vehicles around cyclists, and the necessary tools/guidance for those designing and building our roads to develop safe, efficient
and attractive bicycle infrastructure.
Education and Testing
Educated, competent and considerate road users are a cornerstone of road safety, particularly with respect to vulnerable road users, whose safety often depends on the knowledge and attentiveness of those operating much faster and heavier vehicles. It is critical that motorist training and testing, as well as public information, place a strong emphasis on protecting vulnerable road users and consider the following factors specific to cyclists:
● Cyclists’ right to use the roadway and to position themselves in a manner that, in their own judgement, allows for safe operation of their bicycles as dictated by roadway conditions (e.g., taking the lane).
● The lateral space needed by cyclists (e.g., wobble width when climbing and starting from a stop), expected speeds, how to pass safely and how to adapt driving habits when encountering younger or inexperienced cyclists.
● The various types of bicycle infrastructure (e.g., bike boulevards, bike lanes, buffered bike lanes and cycle tracks) and their associated treatments (e.g., bike boxes, “Copenhagen Left” turns, conflict paint, etc.) and how to navigate them safely with a motor vehicle.
It is also critical for the Province, because it mandates the syllabus for driving courses and certifying instructors, to uphold its responsibility to ensure that programs are responsive to changes to our roadway environments. If follows that, in all areas of Alberta where driver
licensing occurs, the Province must create the opportunity to educate and evaluate motorists against all types of infrastructure they may encounter, including bicycle infrastructure, regardless of whether said motorists may encounter it on a regular basis.
In order to ensure that cyclists are also well educated and competent road users, it is important for the Province to consider how they might support groups that undertake cycling proficiency education.
It is important that use of road regulations recognize unique operating characteristics of bicycles in terms of weight, power and maximum speed and that these characteristics also make bicycle operators significantly more vulnerable to injury or death than operators of motor vehicles. Regulations that work well for motor vehicles do not always work for cyclists. To redress this, Bike Calgary recommends the following:
● Enabling municipalities to regulate ‘reduced speed limits’, such as in situations where cyclists and motorists share road space, e.g., ‘bike boulevards’
● Creation of a “safe passing law”, whereby motorists are required to maintain a minimum distance when passing cyclists.
● Developing guidance for bicyclists to ride through crosswalks where crosswalks form a link in a bicycle route, commonly referred to a ‘crossride’.
● Allow option for right arm extended right hand turn signals, in addition to the ‘standard’ left arm out and up, for bicyclists.
● Evaluating and taking proactive measures to ensure bicyclist safety is not adversely affected by emerging and on-the-horizon technologies such as automated driving.
Likewise, penalties aimed at mitigating unsafe motorist behavior may not adequately promote an understanding of how seriously such behavior can put the safety of cyclists at risk. In addition to fines and demerits it is critical that motorists who infringe upon the safety of vulnerable road users are also mandated to undergo training aimed at preventing such
behavior in the future.
Bike lanes, buffered bicycle lanes and cycle tracks, along with bike boxes, “Copenhagen Left” turns and conflict paint markings are being implemented on Calgary’s roadways. Though new to Alberta, such infrastructure is increasingly common in jurisdictions throughout North
America, with many recognizing the need to provide design and operational guidance so that such infrastructure is safely and effectively integrated into the road network. Guidance examples include the National Association of City Transportation Officials (“NACTO”) Urban
Bikeway Design Guide, first released in 2011 with regular updates since, and British Columbia’s Bicycle Facility Design Course Manual(6), developed jointly by the British Columbia Recreation and Parks Foundation and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure in 2010.
Perhaps the most poignant recent Canadian example is the Province of Ontario’s Ontario Traffic Manual Book 18(7), which was released in March, 2014 and includes guidance on all types of bicycle infrastructure, including intersections and crossrides. Importantly, the release of Book 18 coincided with the tabling of a bill Keeping Ontario’s Roads Safe Act(8) that
proposes to implement measures discussed during development of
Bike Calgary strongly urges the Province to work closely with municipal planners and traffic engineers to ensure that they have similar tools and regulatory support to develop safe, efficient and attractive bicycle infrastructure on Alberta’s roadways.
In closing, Bike Calgary thanks you for taking the time to consider our suggestions and we welcome the opportunity to discuss bicyclerelated
matters with you or your staff in more detail. With respect to Traffic Safety Plan 2015, we understand that stakeholder groups were considered in it’s development. As a leading bicycle advocacy group in Alberta, Bike Calgary would certainly appreciate discussing how we might offer stakeholder input into the development of future versions of the Traffic Safety Plan.
(President, Bike Calgary)
(Infrastructure Lead, Bike Calgary)
1 Province of Alberta (2015). Traffic Safety Plan 2015. Retrieved from:
2 City of Calgary. (2009). Calgary Transportation Plan. Retrieved from:
3 City of Calgary. (2011). Cycling Strategy. Retrieved from:
4 City of Calgary. (2014). Complete Streets Guide. Retrieved from:
5 National Association of City Transportation Officials. (2014). Urban Bikeway Design Guide . Online at:
6 Province of British Columbia. (2010). Bicycle Facility Design Course Manual. Retrieved from:
7 Province of Ontario. (2014). Ontario Traffic Manual Book 18 Bicycle Facilities. Retrieved from:
8 Province of Ontario. (2014). OTC Announces Release of OTM Book 18 & Welcomes HTA Amendments Bill. Retrieved from: http://www.otc.org/wp/wpcontent/uploads/2014/03/OTCMemoMarch2014.pdf