Calgary cycling enthusiasts are pulling back the curtain and putting a stage light on bike rack infrastructure at one of the city’s premiere performance venues.

This story also appeared in LiveWire Calgary

Tim Schaefer, an avid cyclist in Calgary, noticed the need for better bicycle infrastructure at the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium and posted to social media about his concerns.

The building, which has been operating for more than 60 years, has plenty of room for cars at both the Jubilee and the adjacent SAIT and ACA parking lots. According to the Calgary Parking Authority, the Jubilee has 540 parkade stalls and 283 surface lot stalls.

In a tweet on July 12, 2023, Schaefer pointed out how the Jubilee has the capacity to seat 2,523 guests, however, their bike racks are sufficiently lacking by only having the ability to house an estimated five bicycles. 

“People generally think of using a bike for recreation, and they wouldn’t think of using a bike to get dressed up and go to a concert,” said Schaefer.

“But I think that that perception or that that perspective is changing. I think more people are looking at it as a viable option, even if they get dressed up in fancy shoes.”

In an email to LWC, Alberta’s Ministry of Arts, Culture, and Status of Women said that the Jubilee has three bike racks available to patrons. 

Bike Calgary vice president, Doug Clark said this venue is important for a variety of performances. That means a wide array of people could be attending the facility.

“It’s kind of odd that given its proximity to downtown where a lot of people in the Beltline and in downtown are trying to get around without a car, there would just be one single, small, sub-optimal bike rack at a facility like the Jubilee,” said Doug Clark, VP of Bike Calgary.

Rules around infrastructure

The City of Calgary Bicycle Parking Handbook specifies that bike parking should be located within 15 metres of the main entrance of a building. While the Jubilee claims to have three bike racks available to patrons, upon inspection, there is only one bike rack near one of the main entrances of the building. 

The City of Calgary Bicycle Parking Handbook also specifies that “wheel-bender” style bike racks that only hold the front or rear wheel of bicycles can cause damage to bicycles and are also susceptible to theft.

“The kind of racks there right now is what’s commonly known as a wheel bender. You basically just get one wheel in there. You can lock the wheel up, but it’s pretty easy to steal a bike that only has its wheel locked up. And if the bike gets bumped, it’s quite common that the wheel will actually suffer some damage,” said Clark. 

Calgary Transit extended a pilot phase until the end of 2023 to encourage citizens to bring their bikes on transit to encourage multi-modes of commuting. An LRT station is located directly next to the Jubilee, increasing the chance of bikes being brought to the Jubilee.

“That is certainly an opportunity for the Jubilee because of course, the LRT station is right next door. So somebody coming from further away may want to utilize their bike in conjunction with the LRT and the expectation would be that there’s sufficient parking destination,” said Clark.

Clark said that current city bylaws for a special-purpose performing arts centre suggest that buildings under this category have a minimum number of bicycle parking stalls based on 10 per cent of the motor vehicle parking requirements. 

Moving forward, both Clark and Schaefer suggested that the Jubilee should have more bike racks that are more up-to-date, specifically the u-rack design. According to the City of Calgary Bicycle Parking Handbook, u-racks allow cyclists to secure both the frame and wheels to the rack, providing further security against theft, vandalism and potential damage. 

In an email to LWC, Minister Tanya Fir’s press secretary said that they are always looking for opportunities to improve accessibility. 

“We are always looking for opportunities to increase accessibility and to make it as easy and convenient as possible for people to enjoy the world-class entertainment we have on offer,” Garrett Koehler, press secretary to Minister Fir, wrote in an email response.

“The Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium is looking at potential locations for additional bike racks in the future.”

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Isabella West is a fourth-year Journalism student at MRU. She completed her work term over the summer of 2023 at LiveWire Calgary in partnership with the Calgary Journal.