Lonely Planet Writer

Calgary offers locals and tourists free pedal-powered Wi-Fi

Most travellers will be familiar with the holiday Wi-Fi hunt … the often difficult task of getting online and steering clear of roaming charges.

Calgary skyline with dramatic cloudy sky
Calgary skyline with dramatic cloudy sky Image by Getty Images

Now, one Canadian city has begun experimenting with bringing the online world straight to visitors by way of a mobile cycling kiosk. The pedal-powered Wi-Fi hub became a familiar sight during the summer months around Calgary offering tourist information and even more importantly, internet access to city visitors. The kiosk – staffed by guides – moved from tourist spot to spot in Alberta’s largest city all through July and August and helped thousands of visitors along the way. The movable Wi-Fi network set up at locations including the Calgary Tower, Olympic Plaza, Prince Island’s Park and other visitor hotspots in the city. Between now and next summer, it will remain a regular feature at major events in the city.

The mobile kiosk was a resounding success with the number of people given tourism advice more than double this July compared to 2015. Cassandra McAuley of Tourism Calgary said: “We had our summer team on the streets of Calgary every day from July 1 to August 31, and while we’re still analysing the data, we know that our consults in July were up over 106% over the same month the previous year. We will be continuing the programme next summer, while continuing to evolve it as we learn from the initial pilot year.”

The kiosk did not just offer Wi-Fi but also regular tourist information on things to see, places to stay, and where to eat and drink. The idea behind making their tourist office mobile was simple, according to Tourism Calgary. “No longer do you have to travel to a stationary information centre to get the best experience on activities in the city,” they said. It did not just cater to the needs of tourists either, with coupons and deals available for local people to take advantage of at city businesses and attractions.