Fact-checking municipal campaigns: Jay Aissa

In 2011, when light rail was being debated and ultimately decided upon, there was a great deal of misinformation being spread about light rail and its suitability to Waterloo Region. During that time, TriTAG debunked many of these myths so that an informed public debate could occur.

As the 2014 municipal election period builds momentum, false information about light rail is once again emerging. As democracy depends on an informed electorate, we’ve decided to fact-check egregious statements candidates make regarding light rail and other issues for which we advocate. We begin with Jay Aissa, who in his interview shortly after declaring his intent to run for Regional Chair, made several false claims concerning the light rail project.

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all aboard

All Aboard! Announcing TriTAG’s new mailing list

TriTAG has maintained a mailing list over the past five years to let you know about important local transportation issues and events. In the past year, we’ve used our email list to keep you informed about important LRT decisions, the potential for protected bike lanes in Uptown, our provincial election candidates’ questionnaire, and our 5th anniversary gathering.

We hope this conversation can continue.

New rules governing how emails can be sent and received in Canada come into force tomorrow. While we consider our existing mailing list to already use many of these practices (opt-in, unsubscribe at any time, etc.), because we want ensure you can choose to continue to hear from us, we’ve decided to start fresh with a new list that better satisfies these new requirements.

This means that if you’ve been on our mailing list in the past, you should have received an email over the weekend asking you to re-subscribe - we won’t be using the old list anymore. Of course, if you’re new and weren’t on our old list, you too can subscribe and support our initiatives.

If you don’t want to receive emails from us, you don’t need to do anything. And as always, you can unsubscribe at any time from our list by following the links at the bottom of our emails. We’ll be sad to see you go, but we’ll understand.

Finally, if you have any questions or concerns about the way we communicate with you via email, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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Uptown streetscape: be heard!

King St. with protected bike lanes

A profile of a human-friendly Uptown

Hopefully, by now you’ve had a chance to see the new proposal for Uptown Waterloo’s new streetscape, and how King St. could be reshaped all the way from Erb up to University. If you haven’t, go ahead and take a look at the public information boards presented last Thursday. You can also read more about the project’s evolution here.

This proposal needs your support. Please provide your feedback on the Uptown Streetscape project by email to Barb Magee Turner (barb.mageeturner@waterloo.ca) and Eric Saunderson (esaunderson@regionofwaterloo.ca) by Thursday June 12th! Tell them what you like about it, how you see yourself using it, and any suggestions for further improvement. NEW: Write to the project managers and members of council with our easy contact form.

Not sold on protected bike lanes yet? Check out our infographic. Or, read on for more details on why this is the right fit for uptown.

TriTAG believes the new proposal is a vast improvement over the November 2013 plan. Whereas the old plan was presenting awkward and potentially dangerous cycling infrastructure, the protected bike lane solution for Uptown isn’t just good for cyclists, but for everyone.

Uptown streetscape functional drawing

Wider sidewalks, protected bike lanes, parking and safer lanes for Uptown

The presence of protected bicycle lanes will help to attract people to uptown by bike, including many who do not cycle now, some who do bike but avoid King St, as well as the influx of thousands of new residents coming to the intensifying King St. corridor. This increase of cycling is the experience of cities like Montreal, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York and Washington DC and was the subject of a recent study that found that protected bike lanes led to ridership growth of 21 to 171 per cent. Furthermore, this trend also appears to be a boost to business along the route.

Add to all this new data showing that protected bike lanes and their intersections don’t just feel safe, they’re also very safe in practice.

King St. North will serve everyone better with protected bike lanes, pedestrian islands and turn lanes.

King St. North will serve everyone better with protected bike lanes, pedestrian islands and turn lanes.

But ultimately, every customer of a King St. business arrives on foot whether they travel by car, bike or transit. The new proposal shines here, too. Space will allow for both wider, more welcoming sidewalks, and increased ability for pedestrians to cross King St. by slowing traffic, introducing crossing islands, and reducing crossing distances. Meanwhile, the protected bicycle lanes will get cyclists off the sidewalks and provide an extra buffer from traffic that will make the pedestrian realm even more comfortable.

uptown3

Click to see TriTAG’s protect bike lane infographic for more.

It’s unfortunate that for a few, none of this matters as much as the removal of 22 on-street parking spaces. But as we have pointed out before, this is a tiny fraction– less than 1%– of the Uptown parking supply. Furthermore, these lost spaces will be more than replaced by a new planned parking lot, with the opportunity to adjust to parking demands along side streets and with new development.

Space along King St. is precious, and we should be using it to its maximum effect. A small reduction in space for car storage gives us the chance to build an Uptown that is human-friendly, designed to safely move all road users, and truly welcoming. TriTAG believes this is a trade worth making, and we hope you agree.

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cropped-infographic

INFOGRAPHIC: Why Protected Bike Lanes in Uptown Waterloo?

King Street in Uptown Waterloo  is being redesigned, and due to popular demand, protected bike lanes are now being considered as an option for the blocks between Erb and Central.

TriTAG is supportive of protected bike infrastructure because it can make bicycling an attractive choice to most people. This is a once in a generation opportunity to make Uptown a truly walkable and bikable place. But businesses have concerns about changes to the Uptown streetscape, so we’ve created an infographic to help understand the benefits and trade-offs of protected lanes. (more…)

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Jane’s Walks: May 2-4

This weekend, people all over the world will lead Jane’s Walks to showcase their communities. These walks can teach you about the history of your neighbourhood, show you the hidden beauty that you speed past every day, or open up new opportunities to enjoy you city. In KW, there will be some great walks run by your neighbours, community groups, and civic leaders.

Here are a few that TriTAG noticed, showing off some transportation possibilities and problems in this region.

Photo from  janeswalk.org.

Photo from Jane’s Walk.

Shortcuts and Poetry All Around: In downtown Kitchener, Janice Lee will show off some of her favourite walking shortcuts. There are hidden gems inside parks and
along paths that you might never see if you don’t get off your bike or out of your car! This walk starts on Sunday at 3pm.

Photo from  janeswalk.org.

Photo from Jane’s Walk.

Vehicular Architecture and Parking Policy: In uptown Waterloo, TriTAG’s Michael Druker explores the current parking situation and the governing decisions around parking in the city. Do you think there is too much parking uptown, or too little? The walk starts on Saturday at 2pm.

Photo from  janeswalk.org.

Photo from Jane’s Walk.

Walking and Cycling Challenges and Opportunities: Also in Waterloo, Councillor Angela Vieth and Anne Crowe of the Waterloo Advisory Committee on Active Transportation (WACAT) will examine some of the current cycling and pedestrian routes around uptown. You might find new routes, or learn how our streets could be better designed to help cyclists and pedestrians get around. Join them on Sunday at 2pm.
There are many more Jane’s Walks, and more are added to the website every day. Check out the full list of Waterloo walks and Kitchener walks, as well as a walk in Cambridge and one in Elmira.

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Shedding light on Ontario’s intercity bus system

In a recent post, we took a look at the issues with Ontario’s intercity bus system, the role of the Ontario Highway Transport Board (OHTB), as well as what we don’t know. Since then I’ve spoken with Felix D’Mello, Board Secretary at the OHTB, and I can shed some light on current licence holders and cross-subsidies. It turns out to be a simpler story than I had anticipated.

Here are the questions I raised earlier:

Clarity from the OHTB is needed on what, exactly, is the current state of intercity transit in Ontario. Which companies hold the licence for which city pairs, and what amount of service do they provide? What cross-subsidized service is provided by private companies, and what are the arrangements supporting it?

(more…)

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Stop design and network legibility

Recently, we looked at transit stop design for ION through the lens of branding. Today, we’d like to explore the impact stop design has on way-finding, legibility, and providing information to transit users about when to expect the next bus or tram.

Finding our way

Good way-finding cues will be critical for the integration of ION with iXpress buses and neighbourhood routes. Aside from the stop on Caroline, ION trains will have their own platforms distinct from bus stop platforms. (The aBRT stops however will be accessible by both ION and regular buses.) The Victoria Street multi-modal hub will need to allow connections between ION, iXpress, local routes, taxis, GO and VIA trains, and intercity buses. On top of all this is the fact that north- and south-bound direction stops are split by one or two blocks in both the Kitchener and Waterloo downtowns. Planners will need to be proactive in ensuring that the experience of the Grand River Transit network is a seamless one. (more…)

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Let’s talk about Ontario’s intercity bus system

[Update: Our new post provides some important information about the below discussion.]

Here in Waterloo Region, people love to complain about Greyhound buses to Toronto, but few complain about Ontario intercity bus regulation as a whole. They should, as it has much to do with the relatively poor quality and availability of intercity transit here. Now Coach Canada and Pacific Western Transportation (PWT) have launched a campaign for “modernization” (read: deregulation) of the Ontario intercity bus system, with a “Where’s The Bus?” website aimed at the general public.

Where’s The Bus points to more competition and innovation as reasons to deregulate. And to its credit, PWT has shown innovation and competition with its successful luxury Red Arrow service between Calgary and Edmonton. But Ontario intercity bus regulation is an important issue, and one on which more than just financially interested parties should weigh in. (more…)

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MiniMetro [cover]

Weekend reading

Two articles caught our attention this week that we thought worth sharing.

How Design Can Help Build a ‘Transit Culture’ - Eric Jaffe, The Atlantic Cities

Increasingly, transit agencies are realizing the importance of the user experience and public perception to  ridership.  TriTAG has long maintained that bus-wrap ads not only make taking transit unpleasant, but they also severely dilute GRT’s brand into rolling advertisements.  We’re hopeful that wrap ads never appear on the ION, and that the Region eventually realizes how much brand-value is lost by covering up entire sides of their buses. (more…)

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