Report finds cycling contributes to economic vitality of Uptown Waterloo

On Monday, City of Waterloo Council will be receiving a report from Professor Casello and Professor Moos of the University of Waterloo concerning the economic contributions of bicycle users to Uptown.

Key findings include:

  • There is significant diversity in the modes of travel people use to shop or eat in Uptown – not everyone arrives by car.
  • People who travel to shop by bike do so more frequently than those by car, and spend just as much overall.
  • Lack of bike lanes, traffic, and limited bike parking are barriers to cycling Uptown, (for both cyclists and non-cyclists alike).

This study contributes to the already compelling case for protected bike lanes on King Street. A street that is safe and welcoming to all modes of travel would boost the economic vitality of the Uptown core.

For more details, see the full report below.
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Photo credit: laurelrusswurm on Flickr, 2012. https://www.flickr.com/photos/laurelrusswurm/14014027920

TriTAG open meeting March 31

If you’re interested in talking about Waterloo Region walking, biking, and transit, please join us for an informal gathering on Tuesday, March 31 at the Barley Works (upstairs of the Huether Hotel in Uptown), between 6:30pm and 9:00pm.

We’d love to have you join us and share your ideas concerning local transportation issues. This is also a great opportunity to ask us about the work TriTAG is doing or how to get involved. Hope to see you there!

Photo credit: laurelrusswurm on Flickr, 2012.  Licensed under CC-BY.

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Sidewalk Clearing – Time for Change

When I read the article this morning on our new Mayor’s viewpoint on sidewalk clearing, I was very sad. Two very crucial points stood out for me.

Whether or not our Council decides that clearing sidewalks is right for our City, or if building a new arena is the answer, or investing more into the economy or the arts, these decisions cannot be decided upon by the costs of the LRT. I feel a sense of deja vu, back to the RIM Park days when our City Council was held hostage to the RIM Park financing costs and were reluctant to move forward on any other spending for fear of the public backlash.

Trust me, I know that Council should always consider spending and how it will affect the tax payer, but it should not, and cannot be the only consideration.

The second point that stood out for me, was the Mayor’s comment that we can’t move forward because there is little public interest. The following is from the City of Waterloo’s own Transportation Master Plan:

‘From a Complete Streets perspective and developing a “City that is accessible to all”, there is a fundamental need to ensure that public sidewalks are accessible to all through timely and consistent removal of snow and ice. Winter maintenance has been an issue raised by the community under this TMP and the number one issue raised by the Grand River Accessibility Advisory Committee.
Expanding the City’s current sidewalk snow clearing program would promote and enhance safe and accessible pedestrian movement, encourage greater pedestrian and transit use and help make the shift to alternative modes of transportation. This would ultimately reduce the negative impacts and costs to widen more roads and intersections. A phased approach to implementing an expanded program would assist in the budgeting of this program, therefore the focus would be on higher
pedestrian and transit routes. Recommendations of this TMP include reviewing current city practice to identify efficiencies in service, an increase in the existing sidewalk snow clearing program of $100,000 per year over the next five years, subject to the 2012-2014 budget process, and develop a mid to long term strategy to expand the program where necessary. ‘

4 years ago, public input showed that clearing sidewalks mattered and should be considered in order to make our city more accessible. And that public interest, as far as I can see, has only grown in the last four years. not waned. It is an important piece for accessibility when we live in Ontario, and snow is a reality for upwards of 5 months out of the year.

Sorry Mayor Jaworsky, it is time for our City to embrace this change.

Janice Moore is the former chair of the City of Waterloo Recreation and Advisory Committee, and a current member of Waterloo’s Active Transportation Committee.

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Photo credit: waldopepper on Flickr, 2012. Licensed under CC-BY-NC

More consultations!

Regional Strategic Plan

In addition to the online “Strat Chat” forum, the Region is hosting a series of focus groups and public forums to help set its new strategic plan.

Focus Groups:

Focus Group 1: March 6/15
99 Regina Street, S.
Waterloo
Room 508
1:00 – 3:00 pm

Focus Group 2: March 9/15
150 Frederick Street,
Kitchener
Room 110
10:00 – 12:00 pm

Focus Group 3: March 12/15
150 Main Street,
Cambridge
Board Room
1:00 – 3:00 pm

Focus Group 4: March 25/15
Sunnyside Home,
247 Franklin St. N.
Kitchener
10:00 – 12:00 pm

Public Forum:

The Region of Waterloo would like to invite you to a Community Conversation
to discuss our changing population and the trends that could shape our
community’s future.

Key note speaker Doug Norris (Chief Demographer at Environics Analytics) will
discuss the shifts in our community’s population and the potential implications
for policies, programs and services.

We hope you can join us to:
Discuss the trends and implications these changing demographics have
on community programs and services.

Share your thoughts and ideas to help inform the Region of Waterloo’s
priorities for the 2015-2018 Strategic Plan.

Two sessions are being offered:

Thursday, March 26, 2015
7:00 – 9:00 pm
Waterloo Region Museum (Theatre)
10 Huron Road

Friday, March 27, 2015
10:00am – 12:00 pm
150 Frederick Street
Kitchener, (Council Chambers)
This session will also be webcast.

RSVP online at:  http://bit.ly/1vGSEPw

Growth Plan and Greenbelt Review

“The best transportation plan is a great land use plan.”
– Brent Toderian

How our communities are laid out has a profound impact on how we are able to get around: growing our cities up, not out, enables more people to choose to walk, bike, or take transit. Ontario is reviewing its Greenbelt Plan and the Growth Plan and is hosting a town hall in Waterloo Region to gather your input. We encourage you to attend this event and urge the Province of Ontario to strengthen the tools our municipalities have to shape healthy growth.

March 25
6pm-7pm Open House
7pm-9pm Formal Meeting
Bingeman’s Conference Centre
425 Bingeman’s Centre Drive, Kitchener
Facebook event

Climate Change Plan

The province is also performing consultations in preparations for its climate change plan. As enabling better transportation choices can improve carbon footprints, this is an opportunity to advocate for better active transportation and transit. A town hall to receive feedback is being held in Waterloo Region.

March 19
6-8pm
Kitchener Public Library, Main Branch
68 Queen Street N, Kitchener
Facebook event

Bill 31, Transportation Statute Law Amendment Act (Making Ontario’s Roads Safer), 2015

This bill contains a number of road safety improvements including a 1 metre passing rule, explicit permission for municipalities to build contra-flow bike lanes, and changes to pedestrian crossing rules. The bill is currently in committee, and will be reviewed on March 9 and 11. Details on how to present or submit written comments to the Standing Committee on General Government can be found here: http://www.ontla.on.ca/committee-proceedings/committee-hearings-notices/files_html/Bill%2031%20Ad%20-%20English.htm

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Transit and the 2015 budget: a letter to Regional Council

Dear members of Regional Council,

Over the past several years, transit has been squeezed to meet arbitrary cost-recovery targets. Now that GRT has achieved those targets, TriTAG is pleased to see that the proposed 2015 Regional budget does not include any more painful cuts to transit, but instead focuses on continuing to prepare for integration with ION light rail and adapted bus rapid transit service.

We hope that 2015 also marks an end to the sharp fare hikes of the last few years. As the Region develops its new Strategic and GRT Business Plans, it has the opportunity to set fare and cost-recovery policies to satisfy concrete goals for transportation, ridership, social equity, and the environment.  We encourage council to be proactive in considering these goals when deciding on fare and service changes. (more…)

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Photo credit: simmogl on Flickr 2008. Licensed under CC-BY-NC

Winter Sidewalk Round-Up

A lot can change in a week or two. When TriTAG set better winter sidewalk maintenance as one of its priorities for the year, seeing political movement on the issue seemed almost beyond reach. But thanks to your letters to councillors, the path has been cleared to real public debate about where our community’s priorities lie with winter mobility.

Here’s a breakdown of the story so far:

On Tuesday of last week, The Record published a column by Professor Alejandro López-Ortiz calling on our cities to plow sidewalks like they do roads. This week, Kitchener Post columnist James Bow also called on Kitchener to investigate offering this service.

After seeing the positive public response to López-Ortiz’s column, TriTAG published its councillor contact form, allowing you to raise the issue with your representatives. Many of you did.

We also searched our past municipal election surveys to remind you of what your elected representatives promised regarding winter sidewalk maintenance.

In response, Mayor Berry Vrbanovic and Kitchener City Council voted to review its sidewalk clearing policy, and reconsider the possibility of plowing sidewalks as other cities like London and Mississauga do. Regular Record columnist Luisa D’Amato praised the move as part of the mayor’s broader approach to governing. Councillor Dave Schnider also invited feedback from the public:

Meanwhile in Waterloo, Councillor Brian Bourke put out an online survey  to gauge public support for changes to sidewalk policy and how to pay for it. At the time of this post, more than three quarters of respondents support the city plowing sidewalks, with nearly two thirds in support of a tax increase of at least $20 a year to pay for it. Councillor Bourke also appeared on the 570 News Midday Show to discuss the pros and cons of the city taking on this responsibility. Waterloo has yet to direct staff to study sidewalk clearing, but it is encouraging to see members of council begin to open up the discussion.

We’ve only just gotten the ball rolling by getting municipalities to consider sidewalk plowing as a possibility. We need to continue to engage with our public officials and help them evaluate the options that municipal staff lay out in the coming months. Please consider taking a few minutes to write to your elected representatives and supporting sidewalk clearing as a Regional priority, so that this story ends with sidewalks that are accessible to everyone.

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Photo credit: simmogl on Flickr 2008. Licensed under CC-BY-NC

What your elected representatives have to say about sidewalk snow clearing

Last year, we surveyed municipal election candidates on a number of questions regarding transit, walkability, bicycling, and development. Below are what some of our current representatives had to say about keeping sidewalks usable in winter. If you’d like to get in touch with your councillors to talk about winter sidewalk maintenance, you can do so with our contact form.

Mayor Berry Vrbanovic“As our community ages, and from an accessibility improvement point of view, I am also prepared to engage our community and again look at city-wide snow clearing of sidewalks as a possible future service enhancement.”

- Berry Vrbanovic, Mayor of Kitchener

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Photo credit: waldopepper on Flickr, 2012. Licensed under CC-BY-NC

More ways to make your voice heard

Democracy isn’t just for elections. Two weeks ago, we told you about how you can help the Region set its priorities for the next few years. But the Region isn’t the only one listening – there are opportunities to engage with your governments at all levels. Below are just a few:

Snowed out sidewalks

_ContentThumbnail1280X720Momentum is building for municipalities to clear sidewalks in winter. In yesterday’s Record, Professor Alejandro López-Ortiz made a strong case for snowplowed sidewalks.

You can lend your voice to the growing chorus by contacting your representatives through our councillor contact form.  You can also add your support to having sidewalk clearing (currently under the jurisdiction of area municipalities) considered as a strategic priority for the Region through the StratChat forum.

Provincial planning

The provincial government is also seeking input as it prepares its budget for 2015. They’ve set up an online forum where ideas for service delivery, investments, and efficiency can be proposed, rated, and discussed.

One idea we’d like to highlight is funding for #CycleON infrastructure. #CycleON is the province’s cycling strategy, but investment in bicycle infrastructure is needed to carry it out.

Other provincial surveys and public input opportunities:

Waterloo’s way

The City of Waterloo is also establishing its 2015-18 Strategic Plan. Visit Open City Hall to share your vision for the City.

In early spring, the possibility of protected bike lanes with Uptown streetscape redesign is expected to come to council. Let your councillors know this project has your support with our contact form.

Even more opportunities…

To stay in-the-loop on opportunities to influence transportation-related decisions, you can join our mailing list, subscribe to our calendar of public meetings, like TriTAG on Facebook, or follow TriTAG on Twitter.

Headline photo credit: waldopepper on Flickr, 2012. Licensed under CC-BY-NC.

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iXpress loves you and wants you to be happy

What are your priorities for Waterloo Region?

The Region is collecting public input for its 2015-18 Strategic Plan and conducting a service review. The choices made over the next few years regarding transit, active transportation, and land use planning will be important to the success of ION light rail and the livability of your community. This is your opportunity to weigh in and help shape the Region’s direction and investments.

The Region has set up a website called Strat Chat to collect input. On it, you can comment on or rate ideas, or suggest your own for topics such as transportation, your vision for the Regionservices that you feel merit greater investment, and many more.

One idea shared on the site that we’d hope you’d consider supporting is greater investment in frequent transit. This would make transit a more reliable transportation choice and increase ridership ahead of ION service. On snowy days like today, you may also want to consider whether having municipally cleared sidewalks is a good idea.

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Thoughts on the GRT 2015 Improvement Plan

We’ve written briefly about Grand River Transit’s proposed 2015 Service Changes, and we’d like to share a few observations we’ve had, both about how these changes will improve the transit system in Waterloo Region, and the challenges ahead as we move towards a fast, frequent, grid network.

We encourage everyone to provide your feedback to GRT, at both at their final public consultation on Wednesday November 26th, and via their online response form.

Route 7

With a consolidated route 7 appearing in both options for the 2015 service, it seems that GRT is strongly committed to the kind of service improvement that we have talked about on numerous occasions. Splitting the East/West service off of route 7 by removing the 7D/E branches and replacing them with increased University and Columbia service is an important change that will improve the transit experience along the full length of King St without increasing costs.

New Route 7

The new consolidated route 7 will allow for frequent, direct, service every 7.5 minutes to employment and retail on King St north of Columbia, and Weber St east of the expressway. Coverage goals around Fairview Mall would be served by the 1, 8 and 23. This keeps the most frequent service on the busier corridors without having to run through quiet residential streets, but keeps local service for the neighbourhood.

With the separation of the north-south from east-west services at King & University, this will mean transfers. Currently the 7 does not connect with the 202, and it is a long walk to the existing iXpress stop. As the major east-west route, the 202 will need a stop at King & University to support these transfers.

University/Columbia Capacity

Removing the 7D/E branches will take away existing capacity on University and Columbia Avenues. GRT will need to evaluate service on these streets, to make sure there is enough capacity to handle the extra ridership on the remaining buses.
The 92 Loop route may need to be upgraded to be an all-day service, to provide enough capacity on University, while providing enough buses with staggered schedules on Columbia to give frequent service to support untimed transfers to the 7 at King & Columbia.
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