Find out why up! magazine ranked Calgary as the eighth Most Walkable City in Canada in 2010.
Really? Sprawl-gary as one of Canada's most walkable cities? Isn't this the place with a footprint bigger than New York City's and less than a tenth of its population?
"A big surprise to non-Calgarians and a much-used treasure to locals, the city is blessed with the most extensive and well-maintained recreational path networks in the country," says judge Chris Turner of the 700 car-free, multi-use kilometres that snake along the bucolic banks of the Bow and Elbow rivers.
Follow the pavement, gravel and woodchips to their farthest reaches to discover vital (if far-flung) links to natural jewels like Fish Creek Provincial Park, unmatched nationally for wildlife viewing within city limits. And it's not just interchanges funded by tax dollars anymore.
A pedestrian bridge designed by Santiago Calatrava will link the inner city to the north bank of the Bow later this year, becoming an instant icon for the city's commitment to pedestrians getting around car-free.
The new direction won't be easy—the city has the most cars per capita in the country and few people (just over 5.5 per cent) walk to work. Still, the "Calgary Stop," whereby a pedestrian merely leans towards the street and stops traffic, is a thing of beauty.
Neighbourhood Walk: Hillhurst
Hillhurst-Sunnyside, located north of the Bow River and northwest of downtown, is a downtown gem of walkability and its retail mix gets better by the month. The new Vendome Cafe, tucked onto a side street in Sunnyside, brings European cafe culture to the north bank of the Bow. Also located here is Kensington, a trendy part of town that boasts a movie house, great restaurants and bars.
This story was originally published in the May 2010 issue of up! magazine as part of the Canada's Most Walkable Cities 2010 feature, profiling 10 of Canada’s most pedestrian-friendly urban centres. Take a look at more of Canada's Most Walkable Cities.