Media statement: Mayor Nenshi on the 10th Street NW bike lane pilot project

Post Date: Friday, October 07, 2011
There’s much discussion about the newly-created 10th Street NW bike lane pilot project that started this week. Clearly, this surprise project has led to confusion and frustration for many, including me.

Certainly, City Council supports the Cycling Strategy and getting more people on bikes, but the implementation of this new bike lane and road configuration is problematic for a couple of reasons:

1.       Few people knew it was happening.  I hadn’t even heard about this project until the lines appeared on the road.
2.       It’s confusing. A brand new system of lanes that shares the road between personal vehicles, public transit, and bicycles naturally confuses people who’ve never seen it before. And when, after a couple of days, the new lanes and road markings aren’t complete (due to weather and technical challenges), things can become a mess.

So, what are we doing to make things better?

Over the last 24 hours, I have spent time up and down 10thStreet NW to see the pilot project for myself. My staff and I also met with the transportation team and agreed that, in the coming days (weather permitting), lanes will be better defined, better signs and road markings will be installed, and we will learn more about how to navigate this new road configuration.

It’s worth noting that today was much better than Monday and Tuesday, with very little congestion on 10th Street NW—even given the rain—now that the street markings have improved.

This is a pilot project. And, like any pilot project, we will look at the data (including citizen feedback) in the coming weeks to understand if the project is working as expected. And if things need to be fixed—we’ll fix them (including possibly removing the lanes altogether).

This is the nature of innovation: sometimes it works brilliantly and sometimes we make mistakes. And if the data says things aren’t working as expected, we change course and make things better. But we cannot be scared to make these mistakes because if we are afraid, we won’t innovate.

Many citizens have asked why we started a cycling pilot project in October. The reason is simple: it’s cheap. Doing it immediately after resurfacing the road didn’t cost the City anything extra. There’s something inherently innovative in that, but, clearly, a few other steps were missed.

Innovation is part of the culture change I’ve strongly encouraged here at the City. We need to take smart action without getting bogged down in red tape, and I’m pleased that City of Calgary employees are thinking in this way. A culture that embraces thoughtful pilot projects will ensure that Calgary moves forward at a pace we, the citizens, expect.

But we should always be looking at what we do carefully. And, as part of the pilot project, transportation staff are already monitoring traffic and usage—data which will be shared with me and my Council colleagues.

Part of this process also requires your input as well, so please let us know about your experience by calling 311 or contacting my office or your alderman’s office with your thoughts.

Let’s see how well this works. And if it doesn’t, we’ll fix it.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi