Pedal pride: Calgarians celebrate World Bicycle Day with emphasis on pathway safety

Calgarians are embracing World Bicycle Day by strapping up their helmets and pedaling their way along city streets and the more than 1,000-kilometres of pathways.

The latest stretch of hot weather makes for ideal conditions but, as more people get outside, there's greater emphasis on properly sharing space.

"We want to make sure the pathways and our park systems are safe for everyone," said Ryan Pleckaitis, chief bylaw officer with the City of Calgary.

"We recognize that people riding bikes is a big part of recreational activities here in Calgary, but we have speed limits and we have officers who will set up speed traps."

The current speed limit for the majority of city pathways is 20 km/h, but can be as low as 10 km/h in specific areas.

A lack of proper signage in tighter spaces with blind corners is of significant concern to many Calgarians, including Douglasdale resident David Bolger. 

He says many cyclists in the southeast community put pedestrians at risk by riding at excessive speeds and not using bells to alert those around them.

"It’s just a real concern for me that people should be looking out for each other, not speeding, not taking up the whole pathway, I mean there are no angels on either side," said Bolger of the cyclist and pedestrian issues.

"More bylaw officers would help, but we need to educate everybody. I don’t know what the solution is, short of putting in speed bumps."

CYCLING SPEED LIMIT FINES OF UP TO $400 

The current fine for speeding while cycling jumped to as high as $400 as of March 2019.

Cyclists going up to 30 km/h can be fined up to $150 and those reaching speeds above that can be fined the maximum.

Speed limits are subject to weather conditions and cyclists could be potentially fined for travelling at unsafe speeds even without exceeding the posted limit.

Gary Millard, president of Bike Calgary, doesn’t take issue with the fines, but rather the speed limits itself.

He says most cyclists travel safely between 25 km/ h and 30km/h and keeping the limit at 20 km/h could make people less likely to consider cycling as their daily mode of transportation. 

Other avid cyclists like David Niscak agree that higher speeds are essential for training for longer endurance events such as triathlons, but says pathways aren't the place for that.

"Certainly, you see a lot of cyclists on the bike paths abusing the speed limits and going faster than they should which is unfortunate because it ruins the experience for both cyclists as well as the pedestrians," Niscak said.

"If you want to be picking up speed and racing, we have great opportunity around Calgary to get out on the roads and go as fast as you want."