Demand for better transit, cycling infrastructure, safer roads as election season begins

Of all the infrastructure and services municipalities provide, transportation is the one thing we notice the most. Utilities like gas, water, and electricity are, with few exceptions, generally consistent and reliable, and emergency services are hopefully only called upon for rare occasions. Travel, however is a daily requirement for most of us, and our experience of it has the power to shape the rest of our day: from the motorist stuck on the Conestoga Parkway, to the bicyclist dodging cars or squeezed into narrow and pitted bike lanes, to the pedestrian slipping on snow-covered sidewalks, to the person waiting and wondering when their late bus will arrive.

It should come as no surprise then, that inadequate transit and transportation is the number one issue according to residents polled in a survey commissioned by the Compass Kitchener advisory committee. When asked specifically about what transportation issues should be top priorities, 69% said safer roads, 51% said better transit, and 41% said improved cycling facilities. By contrast, only 22% thought building more roads should be a top priority.

A municipal candidate would be wise to take note of these numbers as the October 27 election approaches. Momentum is building across North America for a better transportation experience and balance. New York’s recently sworn-in mayor promised to implement “Vision Zero,” an attempt to eliminate traffic deaths. In 2014, $81.5 billion is being invested in projects for higher-order rail and bus transit across the continent. (Waterloo’s ION represents just 1% of this figure.) And cities are realizing that protected bike lanes are not only desirable, they’re a necessity.

This movement for improved transportation choice and better streets is rising in Waterloo Region as well.

Since 2009, TriTAG has been committed to enabling citizens to get involved and make informed choices about transportation-related decisions in local municipal government. In 2010, we published a candidates survey that enabled you to find out about how prospective mayors and council members planned to address transit and active transportation issues. We put you in touch with decision makers and made you aware of the countless public meetings and input sessions concerning Rapid Transit. And we’ve kept you informed of local opportunities for better transportation and successes from around the world that we can emulate, through our blog and social media.

In 2014, TriTAG continues to empower your voice to ask for better transportation options. We want to keep up the momentum of public engagement and support of ION light rail, active transportation and other projects. We’re planning more pub nights to get to know you, hear your concerns, and help you find ways to get involved. We’ll also have a new candidate survey on relevant active transportation and transit topics to help you make decisions for the upcoming municipal election.

Join us in working towards a more transit-, biking-, and walking-friendly Waterloo Region.