After many years of planning, the City of Waterloo will be making a decision on the future design for Uptown King Street on May 25. The recommended design includes wider sidewalks with more space for seating, trees, and other amenities, improvements to the road design to make driving better, and, for the first time in Waterloo, protected bike lanes separated from traffic by raised curbs and parked cars.
To celebrate this milestone for Uptown, and to support the recommended design, the Tri-Cities Transport Action Group and WaterlooBikes.ca are organizing a community bike ride through Uptown Waterloo. We’ll be gathering in the Public Square around 5:45pm on May 25, and bike up King Street where the protected bike lanes are proposed, circling back to City Hall to join the council meeting beginning at 6:30pm.
The proposed design has lots of support – from staff, elected representatives, many of the Uptown businesses, and over 1000 petitioners, and is further encouraged by a study of travel modes and spending habits in Uptown. However, the more encouragement City Council receives for this project from the community, the more likely they will be to continue expanding the active transportation network with infrastructure of this high level of quality.
We hope to see you in Uptown next Monday.
Photo credit: Paul Krueger on Flickr
For immediate release
Recommended Uptown streetscape design includes wider sidewalks and protected bike lanes on King Street from Erb to Central.
WATERLOO, ON – May 7, 2015. Residents are celebrating a staff recommendation for protected bike lanes on King Street in Uptown Waterloo. The recommended design, if approved by Waterloo City Council, would see the installation of wider sidewalks and raised bicycle lanes, some protected from traffic by parked cars, along King Street from Erb to Central. (more…)
There are a handful of public meetings and input sessions coming up this month, for both Waterloo and Kitchener, as well as for rapid transit.
Lexington can be the most comfortable place to cross the Conestoga Parkway in Waterloo due to the lack of on/off ramps, but with four lanes and high traffic speeds, that’s not saying much. Fortunately, it looks as though the City is preparing to propose new cycling infrastructure on that corridor between King Street and Davenport.
UPDATE: A public drop-in consultation will be held next Wednesday June 3 from 6-8pm in Waterloo Mennonite Brethren Church. (Note: earlier, this meeting had been scheduled for May 13, but has since been moved.)
ION stop anchor wall designs
The Rapid Transit team has just unveiled designs for the anchor walls of ION stops – a 5 x 5 metre feature that will give each station a unique visual identity. (We’ve written before on the importance of stop design for wayfinding.) Two drop-in consultations are being held to gather public feedback on the designs: the first at Knox Church in Waterloo on May 20 from 3-8pm, and the second at Regional Headquarters in Kitchener on May 21 from 3-8pm. Comments can also be submitted online.
Kitchener Planning Around Rapid Transit Stations (PARTS)
Kitchener is developing plans to help guide growth around ION stop areas. On Tuesday May 26, they will be hosting a public information centre concerning the Central Station Areas Study. The meeting will be held from 6:30-8:30pm, in the Conestoga Room at City Hall, with a formal presentation at 6:45.
We’ve learned that the proposal for protected bike lanes on King Street in Uptown from Erb all the way to University is going to Waterloo City Council on May 25. Visit tritag.ca/bikeuptown to learn more, contact councillors, and spread the word about this important project.
Iron Horse Trail improvement strategy
The City of Kitchener is looking to make improvements along the Iron Horse Trail, and is hosting a series of input opportunities and meetings in late May and early June. These include a number of on-trail input stations, a workshop, and a public meeting. More details can be found on the City of Kitchener website.
The announcement for electrified Regional Express Rail on the GO network and the provincial budget have raised concerns in Waterloo Region as to when we will be getting two-way, all-day GO train service. (Kitchener-Centre MPP Daiene Vernile confirmed that the CN freight corridor through Brampton is a barrier, but that acquisition of that corridor was an option the province is considering.) Lost in the details however, is another area of GO service that is likely to improve much more quickly.
We’re talking about GO buses. (more…)
On Thursday, a neighbourhood meeting was held to present design concepts and solicit feedback on a proposal for bike lanes on Union Street between Margaret and Lancaster. The proposed design would reallocate the existing pavement to designate parking on only the north side of the street, and include bike lanes on both sides. Display boards presented traffic and parking counts, planned and proposed cycling routes, and a diagram of a typical cross-section.
A half-metre buffer would separate bikes lanes from parked cars – a marked improvement from other bike lane projects in the City, such as Margaret or Highland. Green thermoplastic markings, (the same material as the sharrows in Downtown Kitchener), would be used to mark conflict and transition areas. The route would transition to sharrows for the narrow curve through the woods, where speed limits are 30 km/h. Staff estimate that the current on-street parking of about 95 would reduce to 45 cars, but this shouldn’t be a concern, as their counts of parked cars has not exceeded more than about a dozen at any given time. This route is classified as a ‘priority’ cycling route under the City of Kitchener Cycling Master Plan.
Response at the meeting was mixed – while there were some who supported the bike lanes, others had concerns they expressed rather vocally. Some took issue with the City’s parking counts, or feared forcing parking onto their side of the street would make it difficult for them to see approaching cars while backing out. It didn’t help matters that the City’s cross-section didn’t depict the tree-lined boulevards very well, leading some to worry about the look of the street radically changing. (The pavement width is not being changed, so we’ve tried to include the boulevards more accurately in the image at the top.)
It’s easy to assume that a project that’s been a ‘priority’ piece of the Cycling Master Plan for the last five years would be automatically approved, but when objections do emerge, it’s important for staff and councillors to know these changes have broad public support. Please consider taking a moment to write them in support of bike lanes on Union Street.
Also, be sure to come out to the drop-in consultation for East Ave bike lanes, at the Subscriber’s Lounge in the Auditorium, Tuesday April 21 between 7-8:30pm.
On Friday, the province announced its ten year plan for implementing “Regional Express Rail” (RER) throughout the GTHA. Previously cast during the provincial elections as electrification and 15 minute service frequency on all corridors, this plan narrows the scope of this expansion to certain lines and more central areas. Nevertheless, if implemented, RER would represent a quadrupling of the number of weekly train trips in the network, and an expenditure of $13.5 billion. It’s both ambitious and, for those commuting to or from Waterloo Region, disappointing.
The announced schedule for increased service over ten years only pledges 30 minute “peak period, peak direction” service from Kitchener – a far cry from all-day service in both directions for those travelling from the GTA to work in the Region. Electrification of the Kitchener line, which would enable more frequent and faster trains, is only planned to the Bramalea GO station. (There is also no mention of electrification the CP-owned Milton Line or its extension to Cambridge .)
Considering that Kitchener is already expecting two new trips by the end of 2016, we will soon be close to the pledged 30-minute peak service promised, meaning we may not see many improvements in the remaining nine years. Two adjacent bottlenecks appear to be at play here: the single-tracked Guelph Subdivision from Kitchener to Georgetown, and the freight corridor in Brampton between Georgetown and Bramalea. (more…)
The City of Kitchener is considering a number of trail and on-road cycling facility projects for 2015:
- Road diet with buffered bike lanes on Westheights Drive (public consultation materials)
- Road diet with bike lanes on Union Street from Lancaster to Margaret
(public consultation materials)
- Multi-use pathways along Kolb Greenway and Rothsay Ave
- Road diet with buffered bike lanes on East Ave
(public consultation materials)
- Multi-use pathways along Balzer Creek from Country Hill to Fallowfield
(public consultation Tuesday April 28)
- Island crossings for the Iron Horse Trail at Courtland and Stirling, with cycling facilities along Stirling from Charles to Mill
These projects, if completed this year, would implement important pieces in the cycling and trail networks for the City of Kitchener, but many have vocal opponents who could drown out the voices of those who want to enjoy better bike facilities and safer streets in these areas.
Members of Council and staff need to know these projects have public support. Please consider attending one of these public consultations and taking a few minutes to write a letter of support to your councillors.
Beginning tomorrow, Grand River Transit will be hosting a series of public consultations on its preferred 2015 service improvement plan. These new route designs, mostly centred around Kitchener wards 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, and 10, continue the trend of a more direct, grid-like frequent service network we saw for Waterloo in 2013. We encourage you to attend a session or submit your feedback online.
Notable changes include a new Victoria/Highland iXpress route, more continuos cross-corridor (east-west-ish) routes, limited service to Bingeman’s Centre Drive, and gradual shifts away from Highland Hills and Charles Street Terminal towards The Boardwalk and the future transit hub for certain routes. Many of these changes are in preparation for ION light rail. Certain route changes have also spurred investigation of a new highway crossing for people on foot and bike.
Some of the preferred improvements, especially around the central transit corridor, are scaled back from what had originally been proposed in the fall, in part due to the challenges and resource constraints during ION construction.
We’ve tried to summarize these changes in the post below. While not part of the plan under consultation, we’ve also included changes to Cambridge service and the announcement of funding for transit in Wilmot in our discussion.
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.
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!