I spent a couple of weeks in Calgary on business, and was quite impressed with the sheer volume of bike paths in the city. After each day of work, I'd hop on the fixie I'd brought with me (it has couplers, so travels for free in its regulation box on Westjet) and explore the Bow and Elbow Rivers and Nose Creek from my downtown hotel.
But aside from being a bit too narrow, and having to dodge the various dogs people insist upon walking without leashes (is there no leash law in Calgary?), my biggest complaint about the paths is that you have no idea where you are! Well, there are some "you are here" signs along the Elbow River Pathway, but get to a major street or overpass, and there is nothing to indicate the name of that street or overpass!
I wanted to find the location of a place at a business park around 73rd Ave. NE. So I took the Nose Creek Pathway. At what looked like a major overpass, I had to take the pathway up to street level, then ride thru a parking lot to the nearest intersection, only to find that I was only at 32nd Ave NE, or thereabouts. I had to do the same thing at the next major overpass, which did happen to be 64th.
So is there not some bike advocacy group in Calgary that has any plans at all to press the city to put some sort of signs along the pathways to tell you what overpasses you are going under? Seems to be a no-brainer. But then, bike paths are usually designed by planners with absolutely no idea of the needs of cyclists.
Also, how are the paths at night? I was there in late June, so sunset is at close to 10pm, so I didn't even need to bring lights. But I wondered what the paths would be like in the winter for commuting.
I also did a ride to Canmore on the Saturday, but getting to the start of Hwy 1A (at 12-Mile, where the "freeway" part of Crowchild ends) was a bit of a challenge. The pathways take too long, so I took 10th St. out of downtown, eventually getting onto 24th Ave, then along Campus Dr. thru the University, then up to Varsity, and then a complex series of roads thru Silver Spring and Scenic Drive. I eventually came up with a nice, quiet route to get me to the NW edge of Calgary, which is actually quite a nice area to ride in. I hope I can remember the streets for the next time I'm in town!