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A brief look at the new Northfield multi-use path

Northfield Drive East has a new multi-use path. The stretch between Wissler and Bridge previously was just a two-lane road with unpaved shoulders and no sidewalks or bike lanes. It was supposed to be widened this year to four lanes, with a sidewalk on one side, and a multi-use path on the other, but this work was deferred until work on the Northfield Highway 85 overpass could be completed, to avoid disrupting too much traffic all at once.

Because of this delay, the Region decided that allowing for active transportation on this road simply couldn’t wait. It has now paved the one shoulder to form this path on the south side of the road. It’s a creative and inexpensive solution to a significant gap in the active transportation network, while providing a significant level of protection to those on the path. (more…)

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Photo credit: Paul Krueger on Flickr

Upcoming events and public consultations

A number of events and opportunities for public feedback are happening over the next week and a bit.

Protected bike lanes for Uptown goes to Regional Council

After being approved last month by City of Waterloo Council, the recommended design for Uptown King Street is now up for approval by Regional Council. In addition to the portion from Erb to Central which the City approved, the Region will also be deciding the design of King from Central to University, and from Erb to the ION tracks and the Spur Line Trail. The recommendation contains more conventional bike lanes for this short stretch from Erb to the Spur Line, but it provides ample buffering to avoid conflicts between bikes and opening car doors.

While it is likely that the recommendation will be endorsed by Regional Council, (the Uptown BIA, Laurier, the City of Waterloo, and many in the community are in support), it appears there are some delegates registered who might object to the design. If you have the time to show up at Council, or send a quick email in support, we’d encourage you to do so.

Date: Tuesday June 16, 2015, 8:45am
Location: Council Chambers, Regional Headquarters, 150 Frederick Street, Kitchener

cow station area planningCity of Waterloo ION station area planning open house

The City of Waterloo is developing plans for zoning and infrastructure around ION stops to maximize the potential of rapid transit and develop transit-supportive neighbourhoods. They are hosting a public open house to provide input.

Date: Tuesday June 16, 2015, 5:30-7pm
Location: Luther Village (139 Father David Bauer Dr, Waterloo). Great Hall room

Columbia/Lexington EA deadline for comments June 17

The deadline for comments on the proposed design for Columbia and Lexington is June 17.  The preferred alternative includes a multi-use path from Davenport across the highway to Holbeach (where signage will direct people biking  to the Forwell Trail), but would not connect directly with cycling infrastructure on Columbia on the far side of King Street for the foreseeable future.

Staff contact: John Griffin, Project Manager

Travelwise Bike to Work Breakfast

Travelwise is hosting a bike-2-work breakfast here at the Tannery on Wednesday, June 17, from 8:00 AM to 9:30 AM. Roll in on your bike to get free food, free bicycle tune-ups, and demos on how to use the Community Access Bikeshare.

Date: Wednesday June 17, 2015, 8-9:30am
Location: Front of the Tannery next to The Firkin

Two cycle track options for Fischer-HallmanFischer Hallman from Bleams to Plains public consultation

The Region is considering changes to Fischer-Hallman in south Kitchener, and are hoping to include new bicycling and walking infrastructure in the design. The area is planned by the City of Kitchener as a future mixed-use corridor. New options being considered are multi-use paths, on-road protected bike lanes with raised curbs, and off-road protected bike lanes.

Date: Wednesday June 17, 2015, 4:30-7:30pm
Location: Kitchener Portuguese Club Inc, 1548 Fischer-Hallman Road, Kitchener

Alpine to Hanson/Hayward pedestrian connection public consultation

A pedestrian connection is being proposed to connect the Alpine Village neighbourhood with the Hanson/Hayward industrial area. This connection would provide transit access to organizations such as the Family Centre and Family and Children’s Services, as well as the industrial employers in the area.

Date: Thursday June 18, 2015, 4:30-7pm
Location: Activa Sportsplex, Murray Fried Room, 135 Lennox Lewis Way, Kitchener

“25 Ways to Brighten Your Community: Common Sense Steps for a Stronger, Greener, More Connected and Fun Waterloo Region” with Jay Walljasper

The latest ION Community and Transit Talk will be given by award-winning community builder Jay Walljasper, who will share the insights and inspirations he has collected from all over the world that are helping everyday people make a difference in their neighbourhoods by working together to implement community building and place making projects. His presentation will be followed by a short question and answer session.

Date: Thursday June 18, 2015, 7pm
Location: Knox Church, 50 Erb St. W., Waterloo

“Make it Happen: A Community Builder’s Workshop” with Jay Walljasper

Passionate community builders interested in shaping the future of Waterloo Region are invited to join Jay for a full-day workshop. In the morning, you’ll connect with other community builders from across Waterloo Region, brainstorm and dream big. Then, in the afternoon, you will roll up your sleeves and find ways to put your community-building aspirations into action to collectively reimagine and reinvent public spaces along the ION corridor and throughout Waterloo Region.

Date: Friday June 19, 2015, 9am-3pm
Location: Knox Church, 50 Erb St. W., Waterloo

Public Meeting: Iron Horse Trail Improvement Strategy

Attend the public meeting on the Iron Horse Trail Improvement Strategy to learn more about the proposed improvements. City staff will prepare detailed display boards and provide a summary of the public feedback received.

Date: Tuesday June 23, 2015, 5:30-7:30pm
Location: Victoria Park Pavillion, 80 Schneider Avenue, Kitchener

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Photo credit: Paul Krueger on Flickr

Uptown Streetscape Ride: May 25

Wider sidewalks, two traffic lanes, parking, and protected bike lanes.

Proposed Uptown Streetscape cross-section

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

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uptown cross section

News Release: Community Members Applaud Uptown Bike Lane Proposal

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…)

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Upcoming consultations: Columbia/Lexington, ION stops, and 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.

Columbia/Lexington

Columbia/Lexington from King to DavenportLexington 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

Willis Way stop anchor wallThe 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)

Map of Kitchener Central Stations Study AreaKitchener 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.

Uptown Streetscape

#bikeuptownWe’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.

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Photo by Sean Marshall on Flickr, licensed under CC-BY-NC

What about the bus?

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…)

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union-street

A more perfect Union Street

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.

kitchener_cmp_mapA 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.

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North mainline track condition (a)

What does the GO service expansion mean for Waterloo Region?

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 [1].)

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…)

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Kitchener bike and trail projects need your support

The City of Kitchener is considering a number of trail and on-road cycling facility projects for 2015:

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.

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april2015transit_changes

2015 GRT preferred service improvement plan

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.

(more…)

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