Removing a Vehicle Lane? It’s Not the End of the World
In anticipation of Calgrary’s proposal to build a network of cycle tracks in its downtown, Tom Babin explores claims that removing travel lanes won’t wreak traffic havoc on the city.
The most controversial of the proposed plans: to turn a lane of traffic on 1 Street S.E./Macleod Trail downtown into a cycle track—one of four lanes on the road would be given to bikers.
“Doubts about the idea turned to outright skepticism when a traffic study was presented as part of the proposal that said the cycle track would lead to an increase in travel time on 1st Street by a mere 30 to 60 seconds during the evening commute,” writes Babin.
Skeptical, Babin consulted with Rock Miller, the Irvine, CA-based transportation planner and traffic engineer who prepared the report. Miller explains concepts like extra capacity and turning lights. Miller even suggests that travel times might even improve on the street.
Still skeptical, Babin questions Sandeep Agrawal, a professor and director of the Planning Program at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, who lays out a very strong argument: “Whenever you remove a travel lane and put in a bike lane, the bike lane gets a bad rap…The question is, if those people (on bikes) were in cars, how much would it have delayed traffic? They probably would have delayed it more.”