Week in review: February 14, 2018

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Consultations, feedback, and events

Making space

How inclusive are our discussions of urban and transportation issues? Melissa Bruntlett of Modacity writes about the issues that can arise when advocacy becomes disproportionately dominated by the white, able-bodied, and male. She’s challenging herself and others to make more space for those who aren’t exactly like us, because our cities are made better when everyone is heard.

On foot

By bike

Ontario is seeking feedback on its #CycleON cycling strategy Action Plan 2.0. Our first skim-through of the plan revealed some promising commitments – like updating cycling facilities standards using best practices from elsewhere in the world and helping municipalities complete their portions of a provincial cycling network. We also found some things that need improvement, like a lack of funding to fix provincial highway crossings beyond the designated provincial cycling network, and labelling education and awareness campaigns that don’t change fundamental road designs as “mak[ing] highways and streets safer.”

  • Based on the tally on the Winter Bike to Work Day website, at least 84 people in Waterloo Region braved the heavy snowfall to ride their bikes to work on Friday.
  • Kitchener-Waterloo riders cool for year-round cycling (The Record)
  • How to make winter biking more appealing (Ryerson TransForm Lab)
  • Why protected bike lanes are good for motorists (Lisa Schweitzer)
  • Looking for the fulfillment that car ads promise? You won’t get it from driving (Streetsblog)
  • E-bikes are destined for something bigger than replacing regular bikes (Slate)

In transit

ION vehicle testing continues, and is expected to cover the entire route over the next week or so.

  • Ontario appoints chair for high speed rail project (Ontario)
  • Kitchener-Waterloo MPP Catherine Fife asks Minister McGarry about the status of two-way all-day GO trains (Twitter)
  • The needless odyssey: Taking a bus between Brantford and the Tri-Cities (Dude Where’s My Bus Map)
  • What’s ‘adequate’ transit service? (CityLab)
  • Sidewalk Toronto puts ride-hailing ahead of public transit (Paris Marx)

The shape of our cities

  • $80-million development expected to boost Kitchener downtown’s east end (The Record)
  • Eaton’s Lofts building in downtown Kitchener getting a street-level facelift (The Record)
  • Public forum explores possible expansion of greenbelt into Waterloo Region (The Record)
  • Toronto offers up gifts of the past (The Star)

Vision Zero

Kitchener is planning traffic calming reviews this year for Patricia Ave, McGarry Drive, and Old Chicopee Drive. West Ave and Stirling Ave S also ranked high on the traffic-calming priority list for the year, but these streets are candidates for a pedestrian crossover and bike lanes, respectively, which may mitigate some traffic issues.

  • Forgiving design vs the forgiveness of slow speeds (Strong Towns)

The road ahead

The province has shelved plans for a new 400-series “GTA West” highway, on the advice of the Advisory Panel it had appointed to study the project. The panel, recognizing the reality of induced demand, found that congestion pricing would offer ten times as much time-savings as more highways could.

  • Uber issues remain a year after officially approved: Taxi alliance (Kitchener Post)
  • Big bad data: the uninformative Inrix scorecard (City Observatory)

Read More »

snowtracks

Week in review: February 5, 2018

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Consultations, feedback, and events

On foot

  • Kitchener pedestrian bridge over expressway lauded as ‘visionary’ (The Record)
  • Uptown councillor wants city to clear core sidewalks (Waterloo Chronicle)
  • Opinion: No business like snow business (The Record)
  • How walk-first cities are saving lives (Curbed)
  • It’s sneckdown season: what cities can learn from snow-covered streets (CBRE)
  • A quick-and-dirty fix for sidewalk less streets (Streetsblog)

By bike

The City of Waterloo published its first “Cycling in the City” email newsletter, providing some information on snow clearing for trails, and highlights recent infrastructure projects.

  • How dockless bike shares could fix America’s broken cities (Wired)
  • Self-driving cars aren’t good at detecting cyclists. The latest proposed fix is a cop-out (Slate)
  • Winter Bike to Work Day scorecard update:
    1. Waterloo Region – 56
    2. London – 43
    3. Hamilton – 25
    4. Guelph – 14
    5. Windsor-Essex – 13
  • Register and ride your bike on February 9!

In transit

  • What does high-speed rail mean for Wilmot? (The Record)
  • Union Station and GO RER: Metrolinx’s Phil Verster on the Future (Urban Toronto)
  • Lessons on ridership, from the national literature (Transit Center)

The shape of our cities

A new study by UW researchers looks at concerns over affordability of housing in mixed-use developments, the kinds of developments light rail is intended to encourage. While we recognize the concerns, we would hope that reducing restrictions against mixed-use development outside of core areas would help make walkable communities more affordable by making more of them.

  • Schneiders plant demolition to start by early spring (CBC)
  • What happens when you ease parking requirements for new housing (Nick Magrino)
  • Everything you need to know about parking policy (TransitScreen)
  • Density’s next frontier: the suburbs (CityLab)

The road ahead

  • Montreal-based Vrtucar to take over Community CarShare (CBC)
  • Apps are not transforming the urban transport business (Human Transit)
  • Canadian Senate’s report on autonomous cars is actually pretty comprehensive (Driving)
  • Sidewalk Labs is building a platform for making the city of tomorrow (Wired)

Read More »

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Week in review: January 30, 2018

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Consultations, feedback, and events

On foot

  • Kitchener plows ahead with sidewalk shovelling study (The Record)
  • Time to start thinking of sidewalks as public infrastructure (Waterloo Chronicle)
  • Rainbow crossing coming to Kitchener core (Kitchener Post)
  • Galt’s new pedestrian cross brings back memories of the ‘Holey Bridge’ (The Record)
  • Regional staff recommend new active transportation bridge across Highway 7/8 between Chandler and Avalon (Planning & Works Committee agenda)
  • Walking School Bus program coming to 30 schools in Waterloo region (CBC)

By bus, train, or… airplane?

  • 3 weeks left for feedback on LRT route into Cambridge (CTV)
  • Turns out the hottest ticket in town is a bus fare card (CBC)
  • Oxford County wants high speed rail alternative in southwestern Ontario (CBC)
  • Airport authority buys International Centre in Mississauga (Mississauga.com)
    Presumably for an airport transit hub next to the rail corridor.
  • Why it’s so expensive to build urban rail in the US (CityLab)
    For the record, ION’s costs of about $45 million per km are quite low compared to a typical $115 million per km in US cities.
  • A conversation about how public transport really works (Financial Times)
  • Garneau supportive of Via Rail’s $1.5-billion request for new trains (Globe and Mail)

Vision Zero

  • Speed kills, so why do we keep designing for it? (Strong Towns)
  • The incredibly cheap street fix that saves lives (CityLab)
  • Who’s afraid of the “petextrian”? (The Baffler)
  • Mobile phone conversations, listening to music and quiet (electric) cars: Are traffic sounds important for safe cycling? (SWOV Institute for Road Safety Research)
  • Undriven snow: activists trace winter car routes to reshape city streets (99% Invisible)

The shape of our cities

  • Kitchener parking garages pricey, underused but plans persist to build another (The Record)
  • ‘They gave in to developers’: Ontario’s latest move to curb housing costs slammed as weak (CBC)
  • Youth! Street life! The case for crowded neighbourhoods (Bloomberg)

The road ahead

  • Provincial funding boosts Miovision expansion (The Record)
  • Why older Americans might benefit from giving up their cars (Strong Towns)
  • Modern vision of an urban future at odds with our local politics (The Star)
  • Elon Musk’s “innovations” are not the future — they’re delaying it (Paris Marx)

Read More »

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Week in review: January 23, 2018

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Consultations, feedback, and events

#snowbilityWR

Thanks to your help with our sidewalk study last winter, and your continued efforts raising concerns with municipal leaders, Kitchener appears poised to re-open the debate over how it keeps (or doesn’t keep) its sidewalks cleared in winter. Keep the pressure up!

Melissa Bowman, chair of the Victoria Park Neighbourhood Association also writes of her neighbourhood’s support for ensuring sidewalks are accessible in winter, and former City of Waterloo councillor Karen Scian suggests that city explore the use of private contractors to keep sidewalks clear.

  • How Sweden’s gender-balanced snow-clearing may offer Canada tips on budgeting (CBC)

Cabinet shuffle

Cambridge MPP Kathryn McGarry was appointed Minister of Transportation last week, raising some hopes for future Cambridge GO train service. Kitchener Centre MPP Daiene Vernile was also promoted to Minister of Tourism, Culture, and Sport. We hope she’ll continue the efforts of her predecessor, Burlington MPP Eleanor McMahon, in fostering cycle tourism.

School zone

Some of the dangers of driving kids to school were realized this week in Waterloo Region, and Ontario. On Monday, a parking attendant was struck by a driver attempting to exit the Adam Beck School parking lot the wrong way. On Tuesday, a mother struck a bylaw officer with her car, who was issuing her a ticket for stopping in a no stopping zone near Wilson Ave Public School.

  • School traffic congestion ‘a concern everywhere’ (CTV)
  • One-third of Ontario parents believe school zones are unsafe: Ipsos poll (570 News)
  • Stop driving children to school: it could be a lifesaver (The Star)
  • Ontario Active School Travel Fund (Active & Safe Routes to School)

Vision Zero

Transit

New public information centres have been announced for the 2018 GRT network changes. Meanwhile, work will soon begin on a new Fairway Road bus terminal to integrate with the ION stop, and the Region buys a bus simulator to help train its drivers.

  • Should transit agencies panic? (CityLab)
  • Why is transit ridership declining? (Planetizen)
  • Why transit authorities sometimes resist change (Human Transit)
  • Public transit becomes the next battleground in the #MeToo movement (NPR)

Cycling and Trails

London Cycle Link challenges us to see which Southwestern Ontario community can have the most cycle commuters on International Bike To Work Day February 9. Will we really allow ourselves to be shown up by London?

On Monday, Kitchener passed its 2018 budget, which included a new Active Transportation Planner, 6.8 km of new trails, and long-awaited improvements to trail crossings, such as Victoria/West. Meanwhile, concerns are being raised over the way a new multi-use trail along Franklin Boulevard will cross onramps to the 401.

  • 8 rules of effective (bike) marketing (Modacity)
  • What people mean when they call dockless bikeshare a ‘nuisance’ (CityLab)
  • Celebrating 10 years of cycling advocacy in Ontario (Share the Road)

The shape of our cities

Road ahead

  • A glimpse of TransportationCamp: An intellectual feast for transit geeks (Mobility Lab)
  • The automotive liberation of Paris (CityLab)
  • Peak fender-bender: Technology can prevent car crashes, if consumers will buy in (Washington Post)
  • Destroying the city to save the robocar (The Register)
  • Why driverless cars may mean jams tomorrow (Economist)
  • Significant hike to carbon prices necessary to achieve emissions targets, study finds (Globe and Mail)

Read More »

shovel

Week in review: January 15, 2018

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Consultations, feedback, and events

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A few weeks in review: January 8, 2018

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Consultations, feedback, and events

The “sidewalk ice dancing”

(with apologies to Jane Jacobs)

If you walk somewhere in winter, you’re not likely to get very far without encountering ice or uncleared snow on the sidewalk – even when there’s been no snow in the last few days. That’s the findings of our just-released winter sidewalk study. Last February, we invited volunteers to help us measure how accessible Kitchener’s sidewalks were. Our numbers show that cities’ system of having adjacent property owners clear sidewalks severely restricts winter mobility. Read the report here. (Coverage in the Record, CBC, CTV, Kitchener Post)

  • Falls on ice seriously injure Albertans at triple the rate of people in Ontario (CBC)
    Because most Ontario cities (but not ours) clear their sidewalks, rather than leave it up to adjacent property owners.
  • Paying attention to the mundane policy issues (Policy Options)

Transit changes and funding

Grand River Transit’s 2018 winter service schedule begins Monday. Meanwhile, plans are being made to launch the 205 Ottawa iXpress route on April 30.

The province has announced $10,454,575 from its gas tax funds for transit in Waterloo this year. That’s up about $400,000 from last year, (but only $100,000 from the 2016.)

  • What Elon Musk doesn’t get about urban transit (CityLab)
  • Whistler slashes bus fares, turns to public transit to beat congestion (CBC)

ION testing (of trains and patience)

The first outdoor powered tests of an ION vehicle took place December 19. Our fourth vehicle, train 503, was delivered to Waterloo, while train 501 was sent back for repairs.

Meanwhile, Metrolinx cut their order of Bombardier light rail vehicles in half, which has local officials optimistic this will allow the company to focus on completing our order. They have also failed to meet scaled back targets for TTC streetcar delivery.

Vision Zero

  • Pedestrian hit by pickup truck, charged for walking on road (CTV)
    Wonder how well the sidewalk had been cleared of snow…
  • Pedestrian struck and killed in Wellesley (The Record)
  • Elderly pedestrian seriously hurt in crash (CTV)
  • Fewer impaired charges, but far fewer RIDE checks (The Record)
  • Is your city committed to Vision Zero, or just paying lip-service? (Streetsblog)

Bike networks

  • Calgary sees big increase in the number of winter cyclists (Global)
    After building a network of protected lanes downtown
  • 2017: The year America’s institutions got into all-ages bike networks (People for Bikes)
  • ‘A rolling walking stick’: why do so many disabled people cycle in Cambridge? (Guardian)
  • Berlin’s upcoming bike revolution (CityLab)
  • Top 15 cycling neighborhoods in Canada (City Clock Magazine)

Rethinking streets

The shape of our cities

  • Boom time: $1.2 billion in building permits expected for downtown Kitchener (The Record)
  • Governance strategies to achieve transit-oriented development (Ryerson City Building Institute)
  • Changes will come slowly despite OMB reforms (The Star)
  • Ditch the drive? Here’s what Americans would give up to live in walkable communities (Realtor)
  • The race in the Greater Golden Horseshoe (The Agenda on Politics)
  • King Street complainers need to remember why they’re on King Street (Sean Marshall)
  • How ‘not in my backyard’ became ‘not in my neighbourhood’ (The Upshot)

The road ahead

  • Who owns urban mobility data? (CityLab)
  • Why can’t Uber make money? (Forbes)
  • People aren’t ready for self-driving cars (CityLab)
  • Self-driving cars have hit peak hype – now they face the trough of disillusionment (Wired)

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Week in review: December 18, 2017

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Consultations, feedback, and events

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Week in review: December 11, 2017

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Consultations, feedback, and events

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