Looking down the road at traffic solutions

Can greater density solve Calgary’s traffic crunch?

Calgary currently sits at roughly 700 square kilometers. That’s a larger footprint than New York City, with only a fraction of the population.  Ask any Calgarian about the biggest issue with our city and they’ll often answer back, “traffic”. That might not be all bad – a recent study has shown that traffic congestion is reducing the number of speeding tickets issued in Calgary.

As one of Canada’s fastest-growing cities, what can Calgary do to ease rush hour congestion without breaking the bank?

There are two major schools of thought on the potential solutions. The first is to create and expand infrastructure to meet the present and future transportation needs of our population. The second is to build denser, more walkable communities with amenities in close proximity, preferably alongside business parks outside of the downtown core, like the Quarry Park development in southeast Calgary. Of course part of solution #2 is increasing density in the developed areas, too.

According to Ward 8 Councilor Evan Wolley, new schools of thought are needed:

"There are thousands and thousands of people moving into single neighborhoods now, but we cannot fit any more cars on the road into downtown. It's impossible." 

One of the struggles with a change in density is keeping in mind the diverse home buying needs of the average Calgarian.

"We just can't force everyone to a different way of life than what they're looking for. We can't force them to live in apartments if that's not what they're looking for."

Trent Edwards, chief operating officer for Brookfield Residential in Alberta

Higher density is likely not the only answer. According to the Inrix Traffic Scorecard, areas with the highest population density also had the highest rates of rush hour congestion. Los Angeles, for example, had the highest urban population density and also had the greatest increase in rush hour traffic congestion, up over 34% from normal daytime rates.

Did you make a choice in buying your home based on the commute? Tweet us at @Smarter_Growth. 

January 23rd, 2015
Updated: March 28th, 2018

How can Calgary tackle its road congestion? New ways of thinking are needed to find solutions.