Inglewood residents express concerns over city plans for new bike pump track

Bicycle pump tracks located across Calgary are amongst the most popular sites for outdoor recreational activity, but some residents in the southeast community of Inglewood aren’t on board with having one in their neighbourhood.

Construction for the new site, which consists of a looped series of rollers, berms and banked turns, is located in a greenspace at the corner of Seventh Avenue and 20th Street S.E. and is set to begin later this summer, with completion set for this fall.

The news came as a surprise to local resident Jenny Day, who says the city failed to properly consult Inglewood residents.

“The city just figured it all out and came to us to engage after it was basically a done deal, asking us our opinions on whether we wanted a picnic table or a few trees as opposed to if we actually want a pump track in this location – that was never asked.”

Day adds that several residents in the area are getting increasingly concerned that the area won’t be able to handle additional traffic.

“We don't feel there is adequate parking here and the parking lot that is here is already being used as overflow for Harvie Passage, which is another highly popular citywide amenity and that parking lot located in Pierce Estate Park is at capacity,” Day said.

“The city has said that they want to encourage people to bike to this amenity, which I think is definitely going to happen for kids and families in the neighborhood, but this is a citywide amenity that will be drawing people from all across the city.”

President of the Inglewood Community Association Phil Levson agrees traffic will be a major issue for residents, but he’s even more concerned about the environmental impact of the site.

“This is the wildlife corridor and the city has not addressed how it will be impacted with a high number of people,” Levson said.

“We've also got garbage that's flowing all over the place. We've got volunteers in our community that are having to go over to Bend in the Bow to clean up the plastics so they don't drift into the river and these are issues that the city really needs to address.”

Further concerns expressed by residents also include a lack of access to public washrooms in the area and a blind corner at the end of Seventh Avenue, which could lead to collisions between cyclists or motorists if traffic increases in the area.

RUSHED ENGAGEMENT PROCESS

Ward 9 Councillor Gian-Carlo Carra admits that the engagement process for the new Inglewood Bike Pump Track was rushed because the $1 million project is being funded by provincial stimulus money intended to be spent this summer.

“So we got the money in February and we had to figure out how we were going to spend it during the construction season,” Carra said.

“The engagement beyond that was a little bit more robust.”

Carra adds that the city chose the Seventh Avenue and 20th Street location in Inglewood because it was already located on a multi-use pathway and a route where the Calgary Transit Max Purple BRT Transit busses stop nearby.

“So the thinking was that phase one – the bird sanctuary and the wild lands – would be turned over to conservation, and then phase two – Harvie Passage, Pierce Estates and the bike pump track would be turned over to recreation.”

An additional factor that played into the construction of a bike pump track in Inglewood also had to do with the pending closure of the Inglewood Pool, says Carra.

“There used to be ball diamonds here and there was a hotbed in the neighborhood of wiffle ball playing so I would love to see wiffle ball and I would also love to see a playground here as well.”

“It’s going to be well-used and we'll work with the local residents and do what we can to ensure there's proper parking, proper parking control and more importantly, that people arriving to and from these facilities are not speeding through the streets.”

INCREASING POPULARITY OF BIKE PUMP TRACKS

The City of Calgary says it has been receiving multiple requests across the city to develop even more bike pump tracks in several neighbourhoods.

“We’re working with them to make those happen, but it's a big challenge fundraising and planning so hopefully we can work with them and see those come into being in the next couple of years,” said CEO of Parks Foundation Calgary, Sheila Taylor.

Taylor says the city recently made improvements to the South Glenmore Bike Pump Track by adding in additional fencing, better signage and more seating.

She adds that more of these sites located around the city will help mitigate congestion at other sites and provide a safer environment for Calgarians.

“We've learned a lot from the process of building these particular projects and how to improve them, we’ve made recent improvements that will be implemented again and we think it will ensure that these parks are really loved and well-accepted by everyone who uses them.”

City manager for capital development, Nico Bernard, notes that his team has done extensive research, including the ‘Bend in The Bow’ recreational study that identified residents are increasingly looking for more activities within their community.

“We had an online survey of 360 people in Inglewood and roughly 80 per cent were keen on having the bike pump track so I think we've got a lot of good support in the community,” Bernard said.

“The community is concerned about traffic flow throughout the community so that is something we need to look at combined from the community overall, but we hope to encourage more people to bike to these parks and make sure there’s a lot of signage in the area.”