Youth en Route created map of a safe route for students to get to James Fowler High School from NorthHaven. It includes 4 road characteristics such as unprotected roadway, Calm community streets, bridge over John Laurie Boulevard and main community street. The map shows that it would take students 15 mins, with an 60 meters incline. In total, it comes out to 2.4 kilometres.
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Inspiring maps to get you on your way

When we ask students “Why don’t you cycle places? Across the city, 21% of students tell us they don’t know the route. At two schools, that figure is over 35%.

Our role is to help. To do this, we’ve created maps to show you suggested routes to go places. We’ve worked with your principals to choose some popular destinations.

“ Maps are these incredible instruments -they are as practical as they are inspirational, and that’s what I hope these maps are for students,” says Dimitri Giannoulis, a planner and member of the Youth en Route board.  

Creating a template to inform and inspire

But we didn’t just want to take a Google map and put a line on it to follow. Our maps are designed to help you find your way. They show elevation gained, and lost, time, distance, calories burned and emissions saved.

“These maps are not instruction manuals, and they shouldn’t be: they are a starting point for students to grow their wayfinding skills through exploration,” said Giannoulis, who also has a degree in Geography. He’s a mapping guru who thinks about the journey, and not only the destination.

Hiring an expert to make them

Austin Sersen on his bike

With our funding from Alberta Eco-Trust, we were able to contract our map making to Austin Sersen, who is graduating from the U of C with an Urban Studies degree in the coming weeks. To say he’s an expert, would be an understatement.

Not only is Sersen a whiz with geographical data and mapping tools, he cycles everywhere. He’s pedalled an average of 7,300 km/year during his four years at U of C. He’s an excellent self-taught bike mechanic and passionate advocate of bikes for all. He became a valued leader of Bike Root – a non-profit bike shop at the U of C that helps get bikes to students.

“I hope these maps help students and teachers become more aware of the many good cycling options around their schools and encourage them to go beyond and keep exploring,” says Sersen.

Detailing the perfect route

The perfect route will be different for every rider. Some less experience cyclists may go out of their way to choose a pathway or separated routes. Others are comfortable on any road.

So, the key is to make our maps work for you.

“As someone who primarily gets around Calgary by bicycle, I am aware of many quirks of the city like taking a slightly longer route if it means I can avoid a hill, or riding on busy roads,” says Sersen  “The hardest part of mapmaking for me is knowing when to finalize a route instead of deviating into an endless rabbit trail of exploring in Google Maps.”

We’re clear that these maps are suggestions -and you need to do a test ride when you’re NOT on a schedule to make sure the route is right for you. We have a page on wayfinding that will help you.

The start of our Map Inventory

We’re going to build a library of maps – this is just the start. And yes, we really hope they will be outdated soon as the City of Calgary build more and better safe routes.

“Once made, maps are subject to be outdated,” says Giannoulis. “But that’s okay. The future of our cities will only contain better and more connected networks for people to wheel around safely. We want  to empowering people to plot their own path to whatever destination inspires them, in a safe, active, low-carbon way.”

And yes, you might end up like Sersen. Once he got riding, he was hooked on it.

“I used to ride a bike mostly to commute and less for fun, but the pandemic really helped free up time to get out and explore, and I quickly became addicted to road cycling,” said Sersen, who grew up in the US and chose Calgary to be his home. “The best part about Calgary is how easy  it is to get around on a bike.”

Watch for Sersen’s newest endeavor, opening soon, a community bike shop in the city’s Northwest Village Bicycles.

Austin on his road bike

About our Greenhouse Gas calculations

Sersen took the route length and plugged it into an emissions calculator. For our purposes, he used a 2010 Gasoline car.

The biggest shortcoming of this methodology according to Sersen is that bike routes can be more or less direct than car routes: For example, Dr. EP Scarlett High School to Evergreen could be 7km on a bike but 8km in a car.  

You can find the maps on all the project web pages for each school. To date, we’ve published four maps per school.

Is there a route you’d like to see? Take a minute to add it to our Google Forms list.

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