Transit problem? Check. What’s next?

**Note: Also appears on the Calgary Herald’s Q. Blog

Reginald Tiangha

Now that the transit problem is settled, let’s move onto the next problem

After reading Alex Bonyun’s piece about how the city needs to put more emphasis on bikers in Calgary, I couldn’t help but agree. In my case, I currently bike to work. Ironically, it was the threat of an impending transit strike that persuaded me to actually purchase a bicycle three weeks ago and try something that I hadn’t done for at least 15 years. With that in mind, you can pretty much consider me a beginning biker.

My commute takes about 40-60 mins and takes me from the NE, through the Barlow/Max Bell area, onto the Bow River Pathway, through the Zoo and into the downtown core.

My main problem, and, in my opinion as person who wants to give the “bike-to-work” movement a try, is that it is a dangerous trip.

Now, how can biking on inner city pathways be dangerous? Well, simply because many of the regional paths seem to be neglected in terms of maintenance.

That, or I’m nothing but a newb biker with no skill at all.

In any case, let me take you through a picture tour of some of the hazards of my commute and let you decide which one it is.

This is a shot looking up from a particularly steep hill that goes down the canal pathways near Max Bell:

picture_1tb

Notice the bumps, fissures and cracks all along the hill. It’s hard to get a sense of depth perception from the picture, but there are only two ways to survive going down this thing: a) either you bike straight down the middle while enduring all the bumps or b) ride to the sides bypassing the path directly as the hill is more even than the path.

Of course, if you choose option b, you’ll have to endure hazards like these:

picture_2tb

Honestly, I’ve seen roads maintained better than this. If the city is serious about encouraging citizens to adopt alternate forms of transportation, then they really need to do something about this to make cycling a more palatable and (more importantly) safe option. Putting up signs like these:

picture_3tb

should not be enough.

Inconvenience, huh? Yeah, me wiping out near the bottom and almost killing myself is indeed an inconvenience, but I suppose I can accept your apology as, you know, I’m, like, still alive to write this and all.

Seriously though, despite this being one of many hazards on my particular commute, I’m sure the same thing exists in other various paths around the city. As the economy gets hotter and the standard of living gets higher, people will be trying to find ways to do things that are cost-effective. Using a bike as a form of transportation fits the bill (not to mention that it’s healthy for you, better for the environment, etc, etc), but no one will (or should) adopt it if it isn’t safe. I know that there are other infrastructure problems that need to be dealt with, but it would be nice if the city could put a little bit towards the pathways as well and make it a truly viable alternative for inner-city transportation needs.