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Dedicated bike lanes in Canmore voted 'best use of tax dollars'

Dedicated bike lanes have been voted the best use of tax dollars in Canmore –a feat that gives the Town's Manager of Engineering Services Andy Esarte some pride.
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Main Street in Canmore at the entrance of Spring Creek Mountain Village features the Town of Canmore's new complete street design, which incorporates dedicated bike lanes. RMO FILE PHOTO

The Town of Canmore has been slowly incorporating dedicated bike lanes into its new complete street design and it turns out they are popular with residents of the community.

This year's Best of the Bow readers choice award for best use of tax dollars in Canmore went to the municipality's incorporation of dedicated bike lanes into the road network. 

It is a result that that gives the Town's Manager of Engineering Services Andy Esarte some pride.

"I personally think it's great that we are already seeing early success. It shows that you can build infrastructure that is safe and helps keep a small town feel and manage growth without sacrificing what makes Canmore a great place," Esarte explained over the phone.

With dedicated bike lanes developed at the entrance to Spring Creek Mountain Village along Main Street, Esarte said Canmore has always had a fairly excellent pathway system that is well used and regularly viewed as a "top amenity," but the Town is always looking to improve.

While the red bike paths were added in 2016, the Town has been looking at an integrated transportation plan since 2014 when council first approved the concept of a complete street, focusing on roadway design that includes all users and how to alternatively connect people from residential areas to the downtown core.

Improvements that fall within that complete street design have been made over the past several years, including new pedestrian bridges on Spring Creek and Cougar Creek improving connectivity to Bow Valley Trail, in addition to the Benchlands roundabout and pathway improvements in the Cougar Creek area.

In 2017, it was reported that 80 per cent daily trips were made via automobile with projections of numbers increasing to 84 per cent by 2030 if there were no changes. In 2018, an update to  integrated transportation plan was appvoed by council and focused on safely and efficiently moving individuals by car, bus, foot and bicycle, noting building roads that "provide a range of travel options is the most efficient way to move people."

"It is a fundamental tool to manage travel growth and growth in the community and travel demand," Esarte said.

Since then, the Town has announced reducing lanes on some of the main roads to increase the walkability appeal.

Earlier this year, the Town studied the three-lane complete street on Main Street with dedicated bike lanes and sidewalks, with results coming close to meeting the 2030 goals of 46 per cent foot and cycling traffic during peak travel days in from April to June.

"It allows us to have a community that we are after, in terms of our value and have a successful, functional transportation network during our peak days of the year ... we have great neighbourhoods and great pathways, it really is about connecting that final piece," Esarte said.

Future projects include an additional three kilometres of dedicated bike lanes to be added along Benchlands Trail, Bow Valley Trail and Palliser Trail into the downtown core with plans to continue to build the network until it is complete.

"Another thing to noted, we are all impatient – I'm impatient," Esarte said.

"We have challenges in a network that need to be addressed and it takes time to create the change [but] we are seeing early results now."

For more information on the Town's Integrated Traffic Plan, visit https://canmore.ca/projects/transportation-projects/moving-people.