Getting Around Calgary
Calgary has a population of over 1 million and has a large footprint covering more than 825.29 km2 (318.65 sq mi) which is about the size of Memphis, Tennessee, or Copenhagen, Denmark. With this large footprint comes a number of transportation challenges. The City of Calgary is constantly planning, addressing and fixing transportation issues in the city. Although Calgary has public transportation in the form of city buses and the Light Rail Transit (LRT) or C-Train it is not like the extensive transportation systems in many European cities. A large majority of Calgarians get around by vehicle and the city has a number of large roadways to accommodate getting around the city.
Driving in Calgary
Calgary is divided into four quadrants (southwest, southeast, northwest, northeast). The city uses a grid system to organize the streets. Numbered streets (i.e. 4th Street SW) run north and south while avenues (i.e. 16th Avenue NW) run east and west. The city streets can also be boulevard, trail, crescent, road and many others. It will help to get around if you have a good sense of direction or GPS.
Deerfoot Trail is Calgary’s largest and one of the busiest main arteries running north and south cutting right through the city. When you drive around Calgary you will notice a lot of “trails” (Stoney Trail, Macleod Trail, Crowchild Trail and Blackfoot Trail). In honor of the pioneers who cut trails through the foothills and Rocky Mountains, the “trails” in Calgary are larger roads in the city. “Trails” are often named after historical figures like Chief Crowfoot, a Blackfoot (Siksika) chief or a First Nation area like the Tsuu T’ina Nation who were previously known as the Sarcee Nation .
- Driving in Calgary can be a bit crazy especially during rush hour (about 7:00 am – 9:00 am and 4:30 pm- 6:00 pm).
- Be cautious as many downtown streets are one-ways.
- Calgary downtown parking rates are the highest in Canada.
- Snow route parking bans temporarily restrict parking on designated snow routes.
- 7th Avenue S in the downtown core is for trains and buses only.
Transit buses pick up people and drop them off at bus stops only. Bus stops are marked with signs. Calgary also has a Light Rail Transit (LRT) system of trains that run primarily above ground. There is a downtown corridor which allows passengers to ride the LRT for free along 7th Avenue only. Have the correct amount of money (in coins) for bus fare because bus drivers do not carry change. You can purchase monthly bus passes or books of transit tickets at various retail outlets.
Transit maps are available with the bus and LRT routes. For information about these routes, maps, travel times and fares, contact Calgary Transit. www.calgarytransit.com
Pedestrians have the right-of-way at a corner or crosswalk (indicated with white lines), so drivers are obliged to stop for a crossing pedestrian. However, pedestrians should take care, as not all drivers heed this law.
In Alberta, jaywalking (crossing the street other than at an intersection or marked crosswalk or against a red light) is against the law.
Warm days are on their way and what better way to experience all Calgary has to offer than by taking a spin around town. With more than 550km of pathways and 260km of on-street bikeways Calgary has the most extensive urban pathway system. www.bikecalgary.org
Some traffic laws in Alberta for bicycles are:
- Riders 17 years of age or younger must wear an approved bicycle helmet.
- Bicycles ridden at night must have a bicycle light and reflector.