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March 14, 2011

Comments

Chris Beynon

I just downloaded the .pdf of the Kitchener Cycling Plan and thought it was funny that I got kicked out of the Kitchener Farmer's Market by security last year for parking my bike on the very railing that is pictured on page E2 with at least five bikes locked to it in "bike friendly Kitchener"...if funding is ever restored to the cycling plan, perhaps some of it can be earmarked towards the education of third party security guards on the cycling policies of the City of Kitchener....

Pokey

Just like city governments - remove any obstacles from the road for vehicles. Governments talk a big game to get people riding their bicycles to conserve fuel and improve health. Then turn around and do nothing.

This helps to prove the point that governments are catering to and care more about cars than about pollution, health and improving roads for bicycle safety.

AlanM

Not being close to the KW scene any longer, I may be missing something here... However, it appears from a survey of the process and what's been published that Kitchener's approach is to treat cycling infrastructure as an "add-on" to existing tax-supported programs.

More enlightened cities have found that better progress is made when council shows the political will to adopt a more integrated and holistic transportation plan that serves *ALL* users of the public rights-of-way.

In such a scenario, cycling infrastructure and pedestrian infrastructure are integrated into what used to be solely a "roads budget".

In this approach, when a road segment that's part of the cycling network comes up for reconstruction, the project by default (i.e. no debate) is done from a complete streets perspective.

Also, interestingly enough, in such communities, the city clears the snow from sidewalks through the winter, using the same "public thoroughfare" logic by which streets get cleared.

Perhaps instead of mounting a lobby effort to have the cycle-specific funding re-instated, a better approach would be to lobby for an integrated approach. Then project prioritization would likely rank the cycling infrastructure pieces ahead of repaving a kilometer of road somewhere that could wait another year.
...alan

Tim Kenyon

Thanks very much, Bill. My basic advice is simple: Contact Kitchener City Council. They are our representatives, after all, and in my experience they are happy to hear from the people they're representing. If you think that it was a mistake to strip all cycle-specific funding (both infrastructure and personnel) from the budget, it is a simple matter to let your councillor or Council as a whole ([email protected]) know your opinion.

charles

I emailed my councillor about this and Frank said he was an avid cyclist and would fight to see the spending restored.

Personally, as a longer-distance rider and an all-year commuter I am pretty much alright with the way things are now, but they are not friendly and easy for first-timers, or kids, or the elderly, or people who just want to relax and pedal.

Thankfully some folks build a reasonable trail network in this city that is mostly aimed at walking rather than cycling, however most of these trails don't connect and are still hard-packed fine gravel. I've done extensive riding on the trails and mapped my experiences.

I think we'd all be better served as cyclists and a community if we used existing infrastructure to support off-road cycling facilities that enhance our community instead of wasting money on bike lanes to nowhere (I saw some on Wabanaki & Wilson, why?!) and I realise some of that is regional not city, but still.

Anyway, I have made some google maps of my experiences and ideas and I think the city would be wise to have more actual cyclist input... did the consultants who did this "master plan" actually try and spend a few weeks getting around this city exclusively by bike? Did they sit up on the Iron Horse and count bikes? I can only read the summary but it seems mostly like "pie in the sky" ideas of separated wide bike lanes... I like these things but we already have most of the parts to make a really good mostly off-road network. It just needs to be mapped, signed, paved and plowed.

Here's my "dream" map of routes: http://maps.google.ca/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=213082082758044424300.000495a6375ace85d70c0&t=h&z=12

And here's the public map of good routes: http://maps.google.ca/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=213082082758044424300.0004929b19266a9417c2f&t=h&z=11

Everyone should contribute to the above if they have something new to share!

craig

Here's the cheap cycling Plan. It's called the sidewalk on the North or west side. Walk on one side of the street, bike on the other.
Done. Next?

Bill

Works as long as there are sidewalks. I'm still for integrating bicycles into regular roadways, but after my Copenhagen experience, I see how segregated bike lanes on major arterials could encourage more cycling.

David

Sidewalks don't work for cyclists, sorry.

First of all, there are Kitchener and Waterloo city bylaws prohibiting riding on the sidewalks if your bike has wheels larger than 50cm (20 inches).

Secondly, the Ontario Highway Traffic Act states that it is illegal to ride a bicycle through a crosswalk. This means that, if you are riding on the sidewalk, you have to dismount and walk at every cross street, less you break the law.

Thirdly, automobile drivers don't look for things travelling 20-40kph on sidewalks. Studies in Ottawa showed that sidewalk riders were 2-9 times more likely to be involved in an accident with a car than those that ride on the roads. If you're driving, how often do you do a full shoulder-check before making a right turn?

Tim Kenyon

Charles asks some good questions that deserve answers.

"I think the city would be wise to have more actual cyclist input... did the consultants who did this "master plan" actually try and spend a few weeks getting around this city exclusively by bike?"

Yes, they did. I commute by bike year-round in K/W/C, and I was on the CMP committee. Two other committee members were four-season cyclists -- that I know of. (Others may well have been cyclists too.) And the consultants themselves were headed up by Norma Moores, who is also a four-season cyclist and used to live here. Of course, the proposals of the Master Plan might not be your cup of tea; and your reasons for thinking so might be cogent ones. But the issue will certainly not be the result of the Committee's lack of extensive personal experience with cycling on Kitchener streets!

"I can only read the summary but it seems mostly like "pie in the sky" ideas of separated wide bike lanes... I like these things but we already have most of the parts to make a really good mostly off-road network. It just needs to be mapped, signed, paved and plowed."

Those are great ideas, I agree. And making efficient use of existing trails by upgrading them where feasible is an absolutely crucial part of the CMP, so I doubt you're in serious disagreement with its approach on that count.

Still, this approach has its limitations. The surfaces that these trails need in order to be plowable and to sustain heavy cycling traffic in wet weather are themselves expensive to install and maintain. (Not least because trail land tends to have been selected from less desirable development land in the first place -- steep grades, soft earth or solid rock, or with an alarming tendency to be under water at certain times of year.) Narrow, winding trails shared between sauntering pedestrians walking their dogs and hard-pedaling commuting cyclists late for work are not apt to work well for either group, moreover. And the trail system itself tends to grow up around local neighbourhood routes that are planned for recreational purposes -- they go in a circle, or they lead from one park to another park, and not necessarily from where people live to where they work.

So on-road solutions have to be part of the plan, too. It's reasonable to think that what will work best is what has worked best in dozens and dozens of other cities with higher proportions of cycle commuters -- like, e.g., separated cycle tracks and similar approaches. Pie in the sky? I suppose people might have called it the same in the other cities where these facilities now exist and are heavily used, before they had built them there. I prefer "realistic aspirations", but of course there's room for disagreement on this!

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Bill Bean


  • North America is eventually going to figure out that, for all the right reasons, we need more bicycles on our roads. Dust off your bicycle and go cycling. And if the gas-burning dinosaurs start to crowd you, it's your road and you paid for it. Take the lane for yourself.

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