Building paths at Calgary City Hall

Last month, Calgary City Council received public submissions on the 2023-2026 Service Plans and Budget.

And they got an earful about the lack of dedicated funding for an expanded 5A Network. No less than 28 speakers spoke about the need to fund connectivity and improvements to the Always Available for All Ages and Ability Network in this budget cycle.

And Councillors listened – amending the budget to include a one-time investment of $50 million and directed administration to find sustaining and operating funds for next year.

$50 million investment in active travel

This is a huge win for youth who want to bike to school. These funds will improve connectivity and create more safe routes to schools. Thanks to the 13 city councillors that supported this funding.

Youth en Route was represented by two speakers. Executive Director Laura Shutiak shared what we have learned from our student travel surveys. She spoke to the small investments that could deliver huge improvements to routes to schools. You can see her slides and speaking notes below.

Chair Shiv Ruparell encouraged city council to fund and build these routes like the important infrastructure project that it is. “You wouldn’t just build one station on LRTs Green Line, and you shouldn’t take an ad hoc approach to the 5A network,”  said Ruparell.

Our friends at Bike Calgary did a great run down of all the bike-friendly speakers on their website. Thanks to all who used their voices to create change.

But what comes next?

Calgarians must hold city council to account. Let’s make sure these funds are used to improve access for all.

We are looking forward to working with city of Calgary planners as they consider how to plan the roll out of these improvements. We are hoping they focus on areas of the city currently underserved by bike and pedestrian infrastructure.

We’ll be there, sharing our data and helping to collect feedback from students to support the creation of an excellent, available network. We know this will help our students get around, but it will also make life better for mom’s pushing strollers, wheelchair users and seniors who face mobility challenges.

Thanks to City Council for making this investment in our city’s future.

What we shared:

Speech notes

I’m Laura Shutiak Founder and ED of YER

Next slide please

Over two years ago, Youth en Route pressed Calgary city Council to change how they think about active transportation. 

Rather than spending active transportation dollars on bike lanes to downtown for skilled and fit cyclists– we wanted you to spend them on routes for Youth, who have limited transportation options.

For many kids, cycling isn’t just green and healthy, it’s by far the cheapest and sometimes the ONLY option.

You responded by prioritizing school routes for expansion of 5A network. A smart and thoughtful move.  

But with this budget, we don’t see any dollars to back up this direction you’ve given administration.

Here is some data from our school travel surveys: Here we Compare a SW and SE school with different community demographics. There are more similarities than you might expect.

Good decision-making comes from information.

These kids are telling us they WANT to be able to make the sustainable transportation choice.

Currently bike riding barely registers in our surveys. Forest Lawn is our highest active transportation high school. Most are much more like Scarlett – with less than 10% of kids getting to school on their own power.  

Next Slide Please

Why don’t you ride? Distance is usually number one reason.

While it’s easy to blame the Province for not building new schools in new communities– Your decisions to continue to develop OUTWARD is a giant piece of it. Far too many kids have commutes over 45 minutes.

And let’s be clear. Kids don’t have choices. If you live in Red Stone, and you didn’t win the lottery to get into Nelson Mandela – you are forced to go to James Fowler.

A more compact city means fewer empty inner city schools and reduced need for new buildings – And all of these new schools go from overflowing to obsolete in 40 years.

It’s also vital that we invest in public transit to give kids choices. $80 per month for a youth pass is onerous for many families – half of Calgary teens WANT to ride transit more, but can’t afford it.

Next slide please

Here, you can see the work we are doing to encourage and support active travel. Our school bike fleets allow students to learn bike riding skills and we bring bike repair skills right to students.

Next slide please.

But we can’t build anything. We need you to be there with us. Most youth ride on sidewalks – which is illegal, but we suggest doing it where there are no options.

And too many of the marked routes on maps are shared spaces – with cars and bikes on 50 km routes. Improving separation in these spaces is relatively easy and inexpensive.

Next slide please

Let’s make the 5A network an infrastructure project – cost it out. That’s the start to getting it funded.

I would go as far as to say that there is little benefit to paying for active and safe routes programming  unless you commit to fund 5A expansion. It’s like giving a kid ski lessons before the ski hill is built.

Next slide please

We’ve created a few maps to show you what could be possible with small investments.

The circles show a 3 km radius from high schools. Improvements to these corridors impact thousands of students. We’ve highlighted corridors in yellow and showed how short the distances are.

Next slide please

We’ve ballparked costs based on other cities and what we know from past Calgary projects.

We are talking about a small fraction of transportation infrastructure budget.

Last time I presented to you I said cancel one interchange and you could fill in these missing links around all high schools.

Next slide please

This shows a trio of schools in NW Calgary. Your investments here could have significant impact on traffic congestion in this area

Next slide please

Finally, This lovely young lady is a reminder that cycling is transportation for everyone – but only if there are safe routes.

Thank you for the opportunity to share our story today.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *