Metro/Robson Fletcher A cyclist rides in traffic at the intersection of Macleod Trail and 9th Avenue S.E. on Wednesday. The city plans to build downtown bike lanes physically separated from motor vehicle traffic next spring.

Calgary is pressing ahead with plans for physically separated bike lanes downtown, but concerns remain over the resulting loss of parking spaces.

The city’s transportation committee approved a rough plan on Wednesday to build “cycle tracks” along 6th and 7th Streets S.W. in the spring, which would be two metres wide with a one-metre median separating them from motor vehicles.

That compares to the 1.5-metre width of existing bike lanes, marked only by paint on the road.

Tom Thivener, Calgary’s new cycling co-ordinator, couldn’t give aldermen a precise estimate on Wednesday of how many parking spaces would be lost in order to make room for the cycle tracks.

“We’re definitely going to lose some,” he said. “It’s definitely more than bike lanes, because bike lanes are a lot narrower.”

Maggie Schofield, executive director of the Calgary Downtown Association, said 170 spaces could be lost and hoped council’s final decision would have “minimal impact” on parking.

Bike Calgary president Brent Clark said separated bike lanes would encourage more casual cyclists to ride downtown.

“If you just put down a painted lane, you’re still going to have people that are questioning whether it’s really safe, because they don’t feel that separation from cars,” he said.

Once a “Centre City Cycle Track Network” is in place, the city is also looking to establish a bike-share program downtown.

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