What was decided
What We Did
The Public Hearing for the proposed transportation bylaw updates was held at Council Chamber on Monday, March 18, 2019. Council approved all proposed changes to the Transportation Bylaws. Amendments to The City’s existing transportation bylaws take effect immediately. The new section of the Calgary Traffic Bylaw, which governs the safe passing of a cyclist, goes into effect September 2019.
The input we received through the engagement was used by City staff to understand the negative impacts and make changes, where possible, to address those concerns. It also helped City staff understand the benefits and positive impacts about safety, signalling and sharing road space. Your input was made up part of the presentation to City Council and the What We Heard report was shared with them.
- Cyclists can now use either arm to indicate a right turn (see images below).
- When passing a cyclist going in the same direction, a motor vehicle must be a minimum of 1 metre (or 1.5 m if the speed limit is over 60km/hr.) from the outermost edge of the bicycle (i.e. the handlebars), if the cyclist is in a bike lane or not.
- A new section of the Calgary Parking Bylaw, 5.1, allows vehicles to park next to a painted line (when signed appropriately), rather than a curb.
- An amendment to section 5 of the Calgary Parking Bylaw enables back-in angle parking where a traffic control device indicates.
- Non-motorized skateboards, inline skates and scooters are now allowed to operate on sidewalks in the Central Traffic Zone, unless otherwise signed. These transportation modes still have to give right of way to pedestrians and can be ticketed for interfering with pedestrians on sidewalks. In addition, skateboards, inline skates and non-motorized scooters are now legally allowed to operate within the cycle track network downtown and other exclusive bike lanes throughout the city.
- Subsection 41(8) of the Calgary Traffic Bylaw requires that a cyclist entering onto a roadway or sidewalk from a pathway to yield instead of coming to a full stop. The proposed provision would only apply when there is the absence of any type of signage, for example, when transitioning from a pathway onto a street.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
We also asked if you had questions. These are the main questions asked by Calgarians during the engagement and some answers.
Q: When will the safe passing law take effect and what kind of education plan will be done to inform road users of the change?
A: If passed, the safe passing law is proposed to take effect in Fall 2019 and will be accompanied by an education campaign. A detailed education plan will be determined if the proposed bylaw change is approved by Council.
Yielding when exiting from a pathway
Q: Does this mean cyclists don’t have to stop at stop signs when driving on the road?
A: The proposed bylaw would only apply when there is the absence of any type of signage, like when a pathway transitions to an on-street bike lane. The proposed change does not give cyclists permission to ignore posted Stop signs on the roadway. All cyclists must obey the rules of the road, including coming to a complete stop at a posted Stop sign and adhering to all other posted signage at all times.
The video below demonstrates the previous bylaw, which indicated that cyclists must come to a complete stop prior to exiting from a pathway, unless the intersection is marked with a yield sign.
Demonstration of previous bylaw - exiting pathway
This next video demonstrates the new bylaw, which allows cyclists to yield instead of stop, prior to exiting from a pathway, unless the intersection is marked with a Stop sign.
Demonstration of new bylaw - exiting pathway
Q: Why weren’t Idaho stops considered as part of the bylaw changes?
A: An Idaho stop is a common term for a law that allows cyclists to treat Stop signs as Yield signs. Sometimes it also includes treating a red light as a Stop sign. Idaho Stops are currently illegal under the Traffic Safety Act Rules of the Road Regulations from the Province of Alberta. Bicycles are considered vehicles in the Traffic Safety Act. As such regulations around Stop signs applies to cyclists in the same way it does to all other vehicles on the road.
Hand signals for cyclists
Q: What if I can’t see a cyclist using their right arm to indicate a right turn?
A: The bylaw change will allow cyclists to use their right arm to indicate a right turn only. As cyclists are required to use the right-most lane of the road, unless they are turning left, drivers to the left of the cyclist should not be affected by cyclists turning off to the right. Signaling a right turn using a right-hand is common practice and is legal in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia as well as many states and countries.
The following pictures demonstrate the arm signals that were part of the previous bylaw and what is now allowed.
Legalizing non-motorized personal mobility devices on bicycle infrastructure:
Q: Why is administration proposing skateboards, scooters and inline skaters be allowed on the downtown cycle tracks and in public spaces?
A: Allowing non-motorized personal mobility devices (skateboards, scooters, inline skaters, etc.) on bicycle infrastructure and in public spaces in the downtown core legalizes behaviours that are commonly accepted and currently in practice. Doing so reduces the risk of citizens being ticketed for socially acceptable travel behavior and encourages more active travel options.
Allow mobility aids on the downtown cycle track
Q: Why are you no longer asking for permission to allow mobility aids on the downtown cycle track?
A: As defined by the Traffic Safety Act, a mobility aid user is considered a pedestrian by provincial legislation and as such is not permitted to use the street for travel when there is a sidewalk available for pedestrian use. As all our cycle tracks are on roads that also have sidewalks, creating a bylaw to enable mobility aids to use the downtown cycle tracks would be in contradiction to the Traffic Safety Act and is therefore illegal.
Parking against a painted line
Q: What are the benefits of being able to park next to a painted line vs. a curb?
A: This bylaw change would give administration the ability to use creative and potentially safer parking solutions at a fraction of the cost. For example, parking adjacent to a painted buffer zone next to a bicycle lane creates a safe experience (See image).
Q: How will you communicate and educate citizens about the proposed changes?
A: The City of Calgary is committed to sharing the outcomes of the proposed bylaw changes and any implications that subsequent changes may have on our City’s transportation network. The appropriate strategy and recommended approach will be determined once Council approves or rejects the proposed bylaw amendments.
What We Heard
What We Heard
We asked Calgarians for feedback on how some proposed bylaw changes would impact them. There was an online survey open from November 23 to December 9, 2018. Thank you to the over 3,400 people who gave their feedback! All the comments we received were read and grouped into themes. While the most common themes were general support or general concern (liking or disliking the proposals without additional explanation why), the more detailed ideas Calgarians told us were about:
- safety (both that these changes would improve or decrease safety)
- the challenges with different types of transportation sharing the same spaces (i.e. speed differences, clarity of signals, congestion)
- desire to have better enforcement and for all road users to follow the same rules
- the opinions that these changes would make transportation easier for everyone
- these changes could encourage more active transportation and/or use of pathways/cycle tracks
The following comments are what you, Calgarians, told us about the three main proposed changes:
- Allow skateboards, inline skates and scooters in downtown public spaces and cycle tracks: The type of impact was very closely split between people feeling this was positive or negative. Comments were mostly about the impact on safety, both that it would improve safety (for in-line skaters, skateboarders, pedestrians) or create a new hazard (due to speed, size and control of device or when mobility devices had to travel on roads without cycle infrastructure) and that the same rules for those public spaces or cycle tracks need to be followed by all who use them.
- Permit cyclists to indicate a right turn with their right hand/arm: Impact was generally thought to be positive or strongly positive, with many saying this would improve safety and clarity. There were also safety concerns like increased confusion and the wish that everyone signaled more frequently.
- Create a safe passing law of one metre space between road users: Most said this would be a positive impact but a fair amount of responses said that it would be negative. Reasons identified that this would be positive were most often to substantially improve safety, while the negative impacts identified were fears of increased congestion or roads lacking space to do this.
You can read all the feedback we received in the What We Heard Report.
Why are we proposing changes?
The City of Calgary is updating our transportation bylaws to make roadways more inclusive for all Calgarians.
Many of the changes are being put forth to legalize behaviours that are commonly accepted and currently in practice. Updates to various City bylaws will provide clarity and consistency regarding the use of bicycles and personal mobility devices, reduce the risk of being ticketed for socially acceptable travel behaviour and improve safety.
Proposed changes Amending our existing bylaws allows The City of Calgary to:
- Create a safe passing law, which would require anyone operating on City roadways to give one metre (approximately three feet) of space between themselves and anyone else on the road, prior to passing.
- Allow cyclists to yield instead of coming to a full stop when entering/exiting a roadway or sidewalk from/to a pathway. Currently cyclists must come to a complete stop prior to entering/exiting from/to a pathway, unless the intersection is marked with a yield sign.
- Modify existing rules on separate hand signals for cyclists, allowing riders to use either the left or right arm to indicate a right turn on our road right of way. Currently only the left arm is legal.
- Legalize the use of non-motorized personal mobility devices (skateboards, scooters, inline skates, etc.) on bicycle infrastructure, such as cycle tracks and in public spaces in the downtown core, namely Olympic Plaza, Stephen Avenue Mall and Barclay Mall. Currently, only bicycles are legally permitted to operate in these areas. Amending the bylaw would permit skateboards, scooters and inline skaters to operate in similar public spaces following the same regulations and hours observed by cyclists. In addition, mobility aids (such as electric scooters and wheelchairs) would also be permitted to operate within the cycle tracks.
- Allow electric pedal assist bicycles on Public Transit. E-bikes would be allowed on City buses anytime, provided a bicycle rack is available and on CTrains during non-peak travel hours (6:30 to 9 a.m. and again from 3 to 6 p.m.). Currently, only non-electric bicycles are allowed on Public Transit.
- Permit drivers to park in designated areas, even when those areas are not against a vertical curb.
Impacted City bylaws
The proposed changes would affect the following enacted bylaws:
- Traffic bylaw, 26M96
- Streets bylaw, 20M88
- Stephen Avenue Mall bylaw, 52M87
- Barclay Mall bylaw, 17M84
- Parking bylaw, 41M2002
- Transit bylaw, 4M81
- Mall between Second Street S.E. and First Street S.E. on Eighth Avenue bylaw, 26M85
(commonly referred to as the Olympic Plaza bylaw) - copies of this bylaw are available through the City Clerk's office
Why are these proposed changes happening now?
Our primary goal is for all transportation options to be safe and attractive options. The proposed changes to the existing bylaws are in response to permissions given by the City Charter and relating to a July 2018 Council Notice of Motion (C2018-0934).
Benefits to Calgarians
Updating the proposed bylaws:
- Ensures that our roads, sidewalks, cycle tracks and public spaces are accessible and inclusive for all Calgarians.
- Improves safety on shared networks for all road users.
- Provides more flexibility and choice options for defining parking.
- Encourages citizens to take advantage of more travel options by allowing the broader use of non-motorized personal mobility devices* on our existing cycle tracks and in public spaces in the downtown core.
*When we refer to non-motorized personal mobility devices we mean things like skateboards, inline skates, or scooters.
Alberta Traffic Safety Act
You can find more details and definitions related to City traffic and transportation bylaws in this provincial legislation: