Bike Calgary's picture

BOW RIVER PATHWAY CLOSURES - 14th Street NW to 29th Street NW

The closure of the north side Bow River Pathway between 14th Street and 29th Street NW has caught many people off-guard and, due to the suddenness of the closure and the lack of clear detour signage, has caused understandable frustration.

Bike Calgary recognizes that the Bow River Pathway is arguably one of the most popular active travel and recreation corridors for Calgarians, particularly for Calgarians looking to travel efficiently and comfortably by bike between the northwest and downtown. People of all ages and all experience levels depend upon it to get them around safely. As such, we have been in communication with City staff, advocating for a detour that preserves and similar level of active mode connectivity as the pathway, that is easy to follow, safe and comfortable, and that provides equitable travel opportunities for all modes.

In relation to the closure, City staff provided Bike Calgary with the following map outlining the closures and suggested cycling and pedestrian detours for the mid-July to mid-October duration of the closure.

Above: Pathway closure and detour map provided by City of Calgary.

Based on the map, Bike Calgary had requested some clarifications on the detour and raised some with respect to its adequacy in effectively accommodating all ages and abilities of cyclist.

The purpose of this post is to update our members on the fact that this dialogue is occurring and on what we have been hearing from City Staff, so please read below.

As always, we encourage our members and the public to relay any concerns to both 3-1-1 and the area Councilor’s office. The entirety of this closure falls in Ward 7 (

We also encourage members to provide us their comments so we can better understand the impact of the closure.

**We ask our members to please note that this post was put together prior to the detour coming into effect, but we were unable to actually post it until today. Only minor edits have been made since the closure went into effect.**

Clarifications on Segments Identified as “Detour”

Bike Calgary has clarified that certain portions of the pathway (i.e. east of Crowchild Trail and west of 14th Street NW), indicated as detour, will remain opened for the purpose of providing river bank access only, not through-travel. City staff have agreed that signage should reflect that these are not through routes, though such signage was not observed during reconnaissance today. We will re-raise this issue with City staff.

Accommodating All Ages and Abilities

Bike Calgary has been advocating for a similar level of comfort, safety and ease of travel along the detours as to what Calgarians experience on the pathway. We base this on the need for the City to provide equitable travel opportunities for all modes and ensure user safety and clarity of roadway operation at points of interaction. We not only believe this is the appropriate thing to do, but we also believe it is consistent with City policy set out in the City of Calgary Temporary Traffic Control Manual.

Above: Some observations from the City of Calgary policies and reports.

In terms of safety, comfort and ease of travel, Bike Calgary has identified the following specific areas of concern to City staff;

  • Intersection of 29th Street and Memorial Drive NW (i.e. Bow River Pathway access/egress to 29th Street detour).

  • Intersection of 29th Street and 4th Avenue NW

  • Intersection 25th Street and Kensington Road NW

  • Intersection Kensington Road and Crowchild Trail NW

29th Street and Memorial Drive NW

For eastbound travel accessing 29th Street northbound, there is no pathway access to the intersection. Cyclists will either have to double back on the existing connection further east, which terminates at a narrow sidewalk leading to the pedestrian crosswalk across 29th Street, or ride across the grass to the intersection. Once at the intersection, there is no crossing guidance (signage or markings) to govern cyclist and motorist interaction in terms of right-of-way, which may lead to unpredictable behavior and negatively impact safety.

Above: Google Earth Image 29th Street & Memorial Drive NW.

Bike Calgary has suggested that the City provide a formal pathway connection, curb ramp and intersection controls (signs and signals) so that eastbound cyclists can conveniently access the intersection and move through safely and predictably north onto 29th Street, similar to 9th Street and Memorial Drive NW (near the Peace Bridge).

For 29th Street, between Memorial Drive and 4th Avenue, cyclists will be required to ride in mixed traffic, aside from a short segment of curbside bike lane southbound. Bike Calgary has identified that riding in mixed traffic does not match the level of comfort of the pathway. We know from the Cycling Strategy (2011) and other sources (i.e. UBC’s Cycling in Cities) that most people are uncomfortable riding in mixed traffic on busy streets, meaning many people that rely on the pathway could be excluded from using the detour, or will simply choose to ride on the sidewalks, to the detriment of pedestrian comfort.  

Status: We are in ongoing talks with City staff to advocate for intersection improvements aimed at providing ease of access and operational clarity for all modes. Our understanding is that City staff are looking at possible solutions. The need for other bike-specific improvements along 29th Street NW has only been discussed.

29th Street and 4th Avenue NW

Bike Calgary has identified concerns with how westbound cyclists will make the left turn to cross this intersection to continue south to the pathway. We have suggested some type of mitigation be considered, including signage to heighten awareness of cyclists crossing at this location.

Status: City staff have agreed to consider signage options alerting people travelling along 29th Street to expect cyclists turning, but there are no plans for any crosswalk enhancements, should cyclists wish to dismount and cross as pedestrians, due to the proximity of the marked crosswalk at 5th Avenue.

25th Street and Kensington Road NW

The detour takes cyclists east to the pathway along Crowchild Trail and then south to Kensington Road. Given the narrow width of the pathway, the need to navigate the plaza and to cross two sides of the Kensington Road/Crowchild Trail intersection, we feel cyclists may favor 25th Street to travel between 1st Avenue and the new pathway along Kensington Road, being more direct and eliminating one side of the Kensington Road/Crowchild Trail intersection.

Above: Google Image 25th Street to Crowchild Trail along Kensington Road.

We have suggested the City look for ways to make sure it is easy and safe for cyclists to cross this intersection to travel between 25th Street and the pathway adjacent Kensington Road, again, potentially through signage to alert motorists that cyclists will be crossing.

Status: We are still in conversation with the City on this one.

Intersection Kensington Road and Crowchild Trail

Crowchild Trail is obviously a key artery for motor vehicle travel however, given the Bow River Pathway serves similarly for active travel, we have identified a need for the City to provide crossride guidance for cyclists and equitable signal timing for all users at this intersection.

Status: We do not have a response from the City on whether adjustments to signal timing will be made or whether crossride guidance will be provided to ensure all modes are interacting equitably and safely.


As the detour went into effect, we have become aware that signage is wholly inadequate in terms of providing guidance for cyclists to travel the detour easily and safely. This has been confirmed by our own reconnaissance.


We will make suggestions to the City on how to improve the signage.


RichieRich's picture

Bow River / Crowchild outage

Thank you for detailing the specific locations and concerns.  Your approach has been as carefully phrased as possible without inciting mass rebelion - certainly moreso than what I could put together.

Although this is BIKE Calgary, I offer that it's not only cyclists that are affected but also all users such as pedestrians and motorists that have had to put up with surprises, increased risk, uncomfortably close shared areas, all of which happens in a congested area during rush hour when many motorists anxiety levels are already high.  Us cyclists are always.... chill.   right?

As noted in my 311 complaint, I offered that the city needed to have adequately engaged Bike Calgary well prior to executing their plan.  It appears that the City perhaps focussed on the desktop review rather than looking at the practicality of the detour and users.  Quite significantly is the fact that SEVERAL other City infrastructure improvements in the area appear to be running behind (ie sidewalk and ramp upgrades) in the area further compounding these issues.  These are also causing problems and indicate (to me) a lack of general awareness and project management. 

Understandably there is no "Best time" to execute these important infrastructure upgrades that necessitate these closures, however the City certainly could have planned and executed much better.  What's the risk of consequences for this poor planning?  I'm not sure but having observed MULTIPLE riders last night suddenly biking directly into oncoming traffic and then playing "frogger" across Memorial Drive leads me to the obvious conclusion that serious injury wasn't considered. 

First rule of safety - ENGINEER OUT THE HAZARD.   

Score:  Fail. 

Bike Calgary's picture


Appreciate the feedback. As noted, there definitely was engagement from the City with Bike Calgary. The actual experience of the detour vs. what the dialogue was in that engagement, at least in terms of signage, was a surprise as it looked like there was an intent to provide much better signage. In terms of the rest of it, particularly the intersections, as noted in the text above, we are still working towards resolution on the concerns.



gary.millard's picture

Call 311 if you have concerns

The City needs to hear from many people in order to really understand the adverse impact this detour is having. If you are unhappy with the pathway detour, please call 311 and politely let them know that you are unhappy. There is also a handy 311 app for your phone that makes it very easy to submit reports from the location (it allows you to attach a photo, and can use your phone's GPS to tag the location if you want).

BOTRoger's picture

Bow River North detours

Thank you Bike Calgary for all your careful work on this.  The detours are pretty awful and were confusing for me (and for all others based on the behaviour I saw of those trying to navigate the detours).

The multiple traffic light intersections, and turning through side streets, has increased my travel time, reduced my safety, and reduced my enjoyment of riding to work.

I've switched to the South path from Edworthy to the C-train bridge.  However, this path is very degraded in areas and is clearly not designed for the volume of cyclists it had this morning.

I've never called 311 to complain, but their (mis)management of these detours will get me to.  Are there specific concerns/topics/words that we should use in our 311 complaints so that we get recognized and hopefully get some remediation of the problems?

Thanks again for the work you've put into this.

Bike Calgary's picture

Bow River Pathway Detour - Signage Improvements

Bike Calgary was in contact with the project manager for this project with respect to the detour signage, or lack thereof. We were assured that signage will be put in place to guide people along the detour and that this signage should be appropriate to the detour, clear and easy to follow (note: it was not as of tonight).

While we will definitely check this ourselves and provide feedback based on what we see, we certainly encourage our members to also provide feedback on where signs are missing or could be better placed so that we can relay this information along. In the meantime, we will continue to work towards resolution of our concerns with respect to the intersections, specifically Crowchild Trail/Kensington Road, 4th Avenue/29th Street and 29th Street/Memorial Drive.

In the absence of detour signage, we encourage our members to famiarize themselves with the detour map and share it around with others that are unsure of how to get around. We also encourage you to continue filing 3-1-1 service requests around signage concerns and the need for intersection improvements to ensure all travel modes, including cycling, are accommodated safely, equitably and in a manner that promotes operational clarity for all travel modes.



Dionysis's picture

reply from my 311 inquiry

I sent an inquiry to 311 asking for more info on the north pathway work and if the path was going to be repaved between 29th and Crowchild. Here is the reponse:

"The timeline for the current closure in place at the moment is until mid-October. Regarding the timeline, we are in a unique situation with this project as we anticipate that there will be several weeks of crews working at three different locations along the closure in order to complete all of our necessary instream construction before the end of the Albert Environment and Park’s Restricted Activity Period, which closes on September 15th. Several of the projects also incorporate a large bioengineering component which includes plantings which must be dormant when installed. This usually cannot occur until the late summer/early fall which is why the closure will extend into October. Finally, a number of the outfalls included in this project have external funding. For the outfalls, this comes from the provincial Disaster Relief Program (DRP) and the Alberta Community Resilience Program (ACRP). For the moderate erosion site, this comes from the provincial Flood Recovery Erosion Control (FREC) program. The deadline for each of these three programs is December 31st, 2018, meaning any spending beyond this date will not be recovered by The City. Therefore, the work must be completed in 2018.


In terms of the pathway upgrades, there will be a new pedestrian crossing constructed just east of Parkdale Blvd and Kensington Rd but no real pathway upgrades here. A pathway removal and replacement project will be completed however on the east side of Crowchild Tr which will look to merge the bicycle and pedestrian pathways in addition to replacing a long section of chain link fence on Memorial Dr with jersey barrier. This work will be completed under the detour currently in place.



I thank you for your feedback and patience as we work to rectify the issues with the detour in the field.






Andrew Murphy, P.Eng.
Project Engineer


Project Engineering - Underground


Infrastructure Delivery, Water Resources

jondub's picture

South side detour

I've switched to the south side from Edworthy since this started. The pathway is in terrible condition in places, but I'm sure that it is preferrable to the detour. Looking at the bike counter data, it would seem that most people coming from the west have done the same thing.

Dionysis's picture


A co-worker, who has always been a fanatic south side user, has switched over to the north side route simply because there are now so many people using the south side! While it is cumbersome and a bit more time consuming, at least the north side is quieter. I just hope for once the city can stick to their schedule and get the north side done on time!

Newzones's picture

South Side Busy

Agreed, I've always enjoyed the quiet of the south side but it's quite busy this year. In any case it's nice to see lots of people out there and riding in the mornings. Although I do wish we could have some re-hab I'm hesitant to ask for any more detours or additional construction right now.

xcrider's picture

Bad Riders

Parks and Wreck need to paint the center line on the south side bike path from Edworthy to 10th St. If this were a road the lines would all be painted to show safe lanes through the detour. While they are at it they could trim some of the overhanging trees and bushes that cause bad sightlines and narrowing of the path.

It is not correct or smart to pass slower path users with oncoming traffic, would you do it in your car?? Every morning this has been happening since the Northside users have moved to the South route. South side of the river path does not support the same Tour de Pathway speeds.

Scratchy38's picture

Extremely bad riders

I have to agree.  I am quite scared in the morning riding the south side now.  I one of the very few going away from downtown at 7am, and I might as well be invisible.  I have had numerous close calls since the detour started with people trying to pass each other right in front of me, and people drifting around corners.  Come on!  Really?  Race to work?  How exciting.  And if there is a train that stops a bunch of them watch out... frantically trying to pass one another in a big pack once they get started again.   I'm not very big, a head on collision with another cyclist would be a very bad outcome for me.  I'm going to have to ride the roads in instead - I hate riding with cars but at this point I actually think it's safer.  Thanks a lot guys.


RichieRich's picture


I certainly understand your concerns Scratchy.  Whilst I am typically one of the faster riders, along this section I definitely chill out and go easier.  Like yourself I've experienced impatient riders whipping along the south side.  Right at the beginning of the major detour I had suggested to both 311 and to Mr. Andrew (see email above) that the south side needed some immediate care to improve sightlines.  Nothing happened. 

As for oncoming riders... my suggestion is that EVERYBODY needs to slow down a bit, move to their respective right sides (not many do this, thereby squeezing the middle), and improve their visibility, and ring those dang bells especially when one cannot see around some of those corners where folks swing wide.  Those wide swingers... one of my big pet peaves indeed.

Dionysis's picture

thanks for the update

Interesting that the opening of the rest of the north-side pathway has been delayed because of "design changes".  I wonder what prompted the changes - maybe the bank just to the west of Crowchild was not as stable as they first thought?

Light at the end of the tunnel!

Ponderosae's picture

Enjoying the south side

Thanks for posting the update.

The south side is going to get fun once we get snow or the perpetually wet sections start freezing over.  Fingers crossed that winter holds off until December when the north side is re-opened.  It's been really interesting watching the Crowchild bridge expansion construction.