Airdrie City council recently passed a motion to start the process of bringing a bike path connecting Airdrie and Calgary to fruition.
The motion, made during a regular council meeting on April 19, directed administration to research and report back to council with more information on the logistics and process to connect the existing Airdrie Pathway System to Calgary’s existing bicycle pathway system at Country Hills Boulevard.
“I know that this topic has come up before,” said Coun. Tina Petrow, who made the motion. “I think this is a great idea.”
The motion – which council approved unanimously – also called on administration to include the author of a previous letter to the City who has been advocating for the inter-municipal path extension, in the initial part of the conversation.
The proponent, Matthew Hicks, has been advocating for the path for some time, as he regularly makes the commute from Calgary to Airdrie by bicycle. His letter asked council to consider the pathway extension, as the existing route cyclists take between the two cities has several safety concerns.
“Without exaggeration, every single time I come to Airdrie, I’m passed dangerously close by vehicles at speed, regardless of my behaviour or what route I take,” his letter read. “This would be understandable for quiet connections between rural communities, but so many trips occur between Airdrie and Calgary that we can’t ignore it as an active transportation route.”
A Calgary-based photographer, Hicks said he currently finds himself making the trip to Airdrie quite often for work assignments. He made the decision last year to transition his photography business to using bicycle transportation to reduce his carbon footprint.
To get to Airdrie, Hicks said he travels up Calgary’s dedicated pathway system until he’s in the northern outskirts of the city. He then traverses to 15th Street NE, which he takes to cross under Stoney Trail. He then continues through Balzac along Range Road 11, which eventually turns into 8 Street once he's reached Airdrie city limits.
Hicks said it unfortunately seems inevitable that a cyclist will someday be severely injured or killed while making the trip between the two cities.
“Additionally, after speaking to Airdrie residents in passing, many find it incredible that there isn’t a better link,” Hicks said. “People in Calgary I’ve spoken with avoid Airdrie while on bikes currently, but having a pathway connection could turn it into a well-placed destination for a weekend ride.”
After hearing council’s decision, Hicks said he was ecstatic to hear council passed the item so quickly and unanimously.
“It’s not just for hardcore people that go out and ride 200 kilometres,” he said. “it could also be for Airdrie families who want to enjoy the countryside."