Calgary Uses Electronic Signs To Validate Its Bike Lane Network

July 9, 2024 by Dave Haynes

I’m not sure I’d call this digital signage, but I guess like electronic shelf labels it kinda sorta is. Whatever the proper distinction, it’s interesting.

This is a semi-digital totem on a sidewalk along a roadway in downtown Calgary, in western Canada. Like a lot of cities, Calgary has a growing network of dedicated bike lanes that are in place to encourage people to ride instead of drive, ideally reducing traffic congestion and pollution.

But city governments, particularly in car and truck-loving cities like Cowtown (I lived there for 13 years), have to “sell” the initiative and counter arguments from staunch motorists  that nobody uses the damn things. So they put up interesting devices like this, which use sensors (I assume) and old school LED arrays to show actual usage day by day, and over a year. Having a a rigid cap on the total seems at first like a mistake, but I suppose it is an effective way to show usage targets were hit.

The city of Toronto, where bike lanes are a particularly hot potato, also has a variant of these signs, and I suspect many other cities (save Amsterdam, perhaps) have versions that make the argument for why roadways need to be restricted and shared by bicycles.

These could be fully digital, of course, but it would be overkill. And fully digital means some company would come along dangling the prospect of DOOH ad dollars, turning information into part-time advertising.

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