CPat's picture

Poll on Calgary's bike lanes

Interesting poll results.  Anecdotely in my interactions outside my bubble, especially with people who "never go downtown" this is what I've heard.  The conservative controlled media drum beat, seemingly based on ideology, regardless of the facts, prior to the vote to maintain the pilot set up last December, seems to be peoples' preconceived belief/frame.  Their truthiness (since the facts show they have been a success while limiting impacts on the all mighty motorist).


... A Mainstreet Research/Postmedia poll for the Calgary Herald/Calgary Sun shows 57 per cent of respondents don’t support the addition of bike lanes in the inner-city.

Thirty per cent of people who participated in the interactive voice response poll by landline or cellphone said they do support the infrastructure downtown, while 13 per cent weren’t sure. 

The numbers were similar when the 1,000 poll participants were asked if they would support expanding Calgary’s bicycle network to the suburbs, with 55 per cent of respondents opposed, 31 per cent in favour and 14 per cent didn’t know.  ...


What's even more interesting is the quotes from mayoral candidates.



CPat's picture

Actual poll document made available

The Mainstreet presser;

From the pdf;

Mainstreet surveyed a random stratified sample of 1,000 Calgarians September 28, 2017 through Chimera IVR. Respondents were screened to
confirm voting eligibility. Landline and Cell lines were included. Responses were weighed using demographic information to targets based on the
2016 Census.

The margin of error for survey results is ± 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

So it's random +1

stratified, but how (i.e. on demographics, address/ward, ?) neutral

1,000 sample size; despite Sean Chu's infamous lambasting of smaller sample sizes of populations: neutral (if you don't get the reference:

"targets based on the 2016 census"  based on?  what does that mean?  The art of weighting isn't fully explained, wiggle room, always proprietary trade secrets (e.g. did they weight senior more since they vote more too?) neutral

Chimera IVR™, successfully blends the cost of IVR with the capability of live operator surveys to ask open ended questions by using voice capture.  A proprietary system that still a robbo call.  What's its actual track record?  They're not advertising that, just that it's cheap.  IVR's have a mixed track record, have they been getting better?  neutral

The way the question is asked/framing:

-The questions if written the way they are on the phone separate the word support from the sentence subject, main clause, emphasizing "oppose this initiative."  Candidates' names presumably were randomized.  People do have strong opinions for some strange reason on bicycling though that probably over-rides this.  neutral/little bit negative


Credibility?  Probably.  Certainly not worth nothing.  Interesting it's so different from the City polling (which I also believe was accurate/precise) before (2013?) and during the pilot (2015?).

CPat's picture


Polls influence voters primarily by motivating them to certain candidates to vote strategically.  There is a pattern of trying to shift voters away from Andre Chabot who is the third main candidate towards Bill Smith and make the mayoral race a two-way race.

Strategic voting and its encouragement is a two-edged sword, but presumably someone's done the math and motivated to get this out there.

Mainstreet has been the dedicated polling company for the Wild Rose/Conservatives for a while.  See some of the blatantly biased ones (e.g. based on polling a slate/self selected voluntary list) swallowed by the media on things like the carbon levy.  It's the private polls (i.e. paid for by candidates) that they make they're money on.  Public polls are a loss leader to help build recognition-i.e. marketing.  This one was paid for by Post Media; media client's typically prioritize cheap over level of rigour/accuracy/precision compared to say private polls.

Keep in mind, according to the media regurgitation of Mainstreet's press release the  3 most important topics are: taxes, crime/safety, and traffic congestion.

Look at the actual document and affordable housing and public transit are higher than/as high as crime/safety and traffic congestion.  Presumably public transit = Green Line LRT, but could also reference the transit cut backs this year.  There methodology explanation is mubmo jumbo and not rigorous.  That's not the way to compare or rank these things, you need to do them individually each against each of the others to order them like they have.  The headline of most important issue is more credible.

Also are they tipping their hand with the small business tax break question?  Do residents really want the residential tax rate to increase, so the business tax rate can decrease?


CPat's picture



Crivak's picture


Regardless of motivation and any potential bias, given the information presented, I'm actually very surprised that it was 50-55% against the lanes. To me that shows there is a lot of support for the bike infrastructure. This is a very conservative, generally right winged/middle ground city that was built very quickly in the 60s and 70s with cars in mind - with very large sprawl compared to other city designs. For the extreme "do not support anything regarding bikes even with evidence to the contrary" percentage to be less than 60-65% to me is a happy surprise. And I do think that cold calls will result in hitting a lot of the older populace who still have land lines or generally just got into the same rut as everyone else driving.

It is interesting to note though that when they do polling such as this for the "park pathways" the support for those always comes out as 80-90% in favour even if the people responding say they never use the paths. Even though the paths are used heavily by bicycles and in other places are considered bike infrastructure. To me this speaks volumes. People are in favour of this infrastructure they just have a bias against bicycles. So the more people riding bicycles the more that bias dies. 

goforstars's picture

Not be too complacent

While I agree that approx. 50% of those surveyed support bike lanes, the way how the media reports it, doesn't take much to inflame/rile up the fence sitters about lanes and cycling in general to push the non-supporter numbers up.

I still think a ton of locals don't even understand the concept of liveability..meaning living within 15 min. walking distance of public transit, cycling facilities, services and some shops.  THere's a huge contingent who are very removed from understanding this concept at the most basic level. In reading the commneters on that Calgary Herald poll results article, there were still people staying stuff where they had no knowledge of the city's automated bike counter data on the open web site 

 So what would BikeCalgary suggest be the next stage for cycling infrastructure for next 4 years?  Or sit back and wait?  That's a no-go zone because it doesn't take much for other parties to freeze progress.


Crivak's picture

Agreed. Many don't understand

Agreed. Many don't understand the concept. But even those living within 15 minutes walking distance of various places will get in their cars and drive because it's habit. People are just engrained in their ways. It's what they know. I read that half of all American trips are 3 miles or less. That's 5km and I believe many Calgarians have the same behaviour.

I think the best bet is to normalize bicycles. Building infrastructure is a good way to encourage more riders even if people complain as it's rolling out. IE sunnyside transit station was heavily controversial but now it has huge ridership and nobody would question its validity. The bike lanes will be the same, all the folks complaining about the $5 million cost of the downtown lanes probably have no idea about the $4 million redevelopment in bowmont. So long as they continue to build right where the demand is and keep it clean in winter then numbers will steadily rise. 

The best bet IMO is education programs. The more folks taking the urban cycling skills course the better, and I'd really like to see something similar be integrated into the public school system. When I was a kid the alien skate crew came for our gym classes - what's stopping us from funding pedal heads to do the same? Something like the basic road test would be nice too.

It needs to be accessible and understood and easy. It doesn't need to be liked.

bclark's picture

Infrastructure Task Force Answer

I'll speak to your final comment goforstars on behalf of the Infrastructure Task Force. Bike Calgary is involved in a number of initiatives from the infrastructure standpoint. One of our key objectives right now is pushing for legislative and regulatory wording that provides additional guidance to municipalities, specifically on the traffic engineering side of things, to enable some of the more innovative types of bicycle infrastructure that are emerging in other jurisdictions in North America, i.e. protected intersections being one. Through this, we also hope to encourage a more predictable, comfortable and safe roadway environment for all modes of transport and, particularly to ensure that cyclists are better integrated into the transportation fabric so as to minimize 'guesswork' and resulting frustration when cyclists and motorists interact. 

Switching to a personal perspective on other things Bike Calgary, and the cycling community can do, I think simply continuing to communicate that it's all types of Calgarians that are using their bikes to get around for all sorts of reasons (exercise, efficiency, cost savings, enviroment, convenience, enjoyment, etc.). When it comes to infrastructure improvements, being clear that it's not a social agenda, it's simply a reasonable and justifiable desire to feel safe, comfortable and included on Calgary's streets.

These are the kinds of questions that would make for great discussion at an AGM.

goforstars's picture

Make it easier, accessible, normal

It needs to be accessible and understood and easy. It doesn't need to be liked.

Agreed. There needs to be large public cycling events..en masse. Very large celebatory. It doesn't have to be just a ride... Bike to Work is too limited for a tiny portion of city, for a few hrs. A wk. long event that celebrates, credits businesses that welcome cyclists a customers..along with transit customers. 

It's great to see waaay more children cycling downtown and around the parks pathways there compared to 7 yrs. ago when I first moved to Calgary from Vancouver.  

Literally means putting an outdoor large public sign and state only 2% (or something like that) of City's entire transportation budget.  It has be in-your-face fact. 

As for habit-bound car drivers, I found out from a work colleague who works only 5 metres from my cubicle..that not only he lived in south, but a 15 min. walk from Anderson train station.  He didn't like the transit train experience into downtown.  Go fiture.  No, he doesn't have children to pick up enroute to home, etc.

CPat's picture

Some people like paying:

Some people like paying:







And that's in after-tax dollars.  If your in a top income tax bracket, work downtown, then that's easily a $10,000 salary raise by parking downtown.  Never mind all the health benefits, etc. you get from cycling, walking, or using transit (average 5 min walk/trip-cannot remember source).


Re. messaging they are framing the issue and building "the truth" or truthiness.  Not to cast stones, but it was disappointing seeing/hearing the Raedy to Engege group only get interviewed for the Earl Grey Golf Course pathway extension.  Even the CBC has an opinion page now on their website used by right-wingers to throw caca/alt facts (guess that's what a decade of Harper does or no money in journalism).


What was with the CBC's article having this article and naming all the candidates furthering Westman's reach?  Slimey.

Calgary developer picks his candidates, urges staff to follow his lead

by Sarah Lawrynuik

mercator's picture

The corporate overlords slate

Maybe the CBC was doing us all a favour by publishing the list of candidates that have sold out. Should make voting easier, no?

2wheeler's picture


I don't see the list of candidates he's supporting.  Does anyone hav a link?

CPat's picture

Mainstreet Sketchy, Post Media Sketchy

Apparently Mainstreet Research got kicked out of the Canadian market research trade association for disreputable conduct towards the industry too. Sketchy.


Very interesting that Post Media still uses them.  People pay cash under the table for a handyman to do home renos though.  Post Media's content is for sale; they have deals to do "sponsored content".

... Feller said Mogo and Postmedia would soon hammer out details on what the marketing partnership includes, but he expects to see a mix of traditional ads, events and sponsored content. ...


Article outlining why Post Media's content is for sale:

What really did their credibility in for me was head office in Toronto telling all Alberta newspapers to endorse corrupt PC's torys in the last provincial election.  Rick Bell, who gave Danielle Smith her start in journalism 10+ years ago, now is head of the entire Alberta operations IIRC.  Alberta's "old boys club" - incestuous.  They shouldn't have any more reputability than some random guy with a blog.


CPat's picture

Not to dwell on this, but WTF

Not to dwell on this, but WTF...

Here's the same list that was splashed on the CBC front page on both Global and 770AM (both SHAW); it's like we're all being told who to vote for...

Danielle Smith: Your conservative candidates for Calgary city council


from the "The Institute for Public Sector Accountability" which apparently is something based out of SAIT (or wrapped in their colours via someone who works there) and is a regular columist for the Calgary SUN. and look who's on their board of directors... such august and reputable names as Jonathan Denis who's a former PC minister, is suing Druh Farrel IIRC and had his wife retract the allegations of abuse.