Week in review: September 5, 2017

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Consultations, feedback, and events

Cycling behaviour, infrastructure, and tribalism

Two weeks ago, 570 News host Mike Farwell penned a column detailing some recent experiences with people on bikes running red lights and texting, and calling on the so-called “cycling community” to reign in their scofflaw “members.” The column sparked a firestorm on Twitter, eventually culminating in Farwell inviting Waterloo Bikes and Berlin Bicycle Cafe owner Graham Roe, Hold the Line organizer and hip-hop artist Sam Nabi, and TriTAG member Mike Boos on the air Friday to discuss how to make our streets safe.

TriTAG members also wrote responses. Chris Klein tackled the tribalism the column risks stoking. Mike Boos wrote a letter in the Kitchener Post pointing out that we’re still people, not our vehicles, and also explained on Twitter how an exclusive focus on behaviour fails and how infrastructure can help protect fallible people. Michael Druker pointed out you can take “personal responsibility” for road safety and still be killed by someone else on the road.

  • City in Canada tries a new approach to pop-up protected bike lanes [Next City]
  • These temporary bike lane barriers let cities experiment with better biking infrastructure [Fast Company]
  • When cities won’t protect bike lanes, ‘human bollards’ step up [CityLab]
  • Improving cycling is as much about slowing cars as it is about building better bike lanes [Streetsblog]
  • Sharrows as the embodiment of “shared responsibility” thinking [Mike Boos]

Transit troubles

Fall GRT service starts this week. The 201 and 202 iXpress routes are being improved to 10 minute frequencies at peak times. Meanwhile, Guelph launches a new frequent mainline service.

ION light rail vehicles continue to face delays, due to software integration issues. While it’s been known for a while, CTV reports that it’s possible that the incomplete pilot vehicle we already have may have to be sent back to Bombardier to fix.

Reporters have uncovered that the Ministry of Transportation pressured Metrolinx to approve two infill GO RER stations, one of which is in the Minister’s riding, that were found to have a negative effect on ridership (by delaying upstream trains). The Minister issued a statement saying construction of the proposed Kirby GO station wouldn’t start unless it was shown to be viable.

  • Farmers worry high speed rail will sever land, cut off side roads [CBC]
  • Metrolinx says potential agreement could shorten timelines for two-way all-day GO train [Cambridge Times]
  • Why is bus ridership falling? [Human Transit]
  • Buses, yes buses, are the ‘hottest trend in transit’ [Governing]


  • It’s time for pedestrians to stand up for their rights [Globe and Mail]
  • Pedestrians are not second class citizens [New Hamburg Independent]
  • Colourful ramps boost accessibility in Cambridge cores [The Record]
  • Waterloo Park’s glowing trail, a North American first, cancelled [CBC]

Land use

Columnist Edward Keenan provides a great explainer for how zoning in many Ontario cities works – as deal-making. Instead of creating plans for the kind of urban environments we want, many cities create zoning rules with restrictions that force developers to barter for increased density in exchange for the kinds of things cities can’t outright require. Unfortunately, the situation can feed NIMBYism, as residents confuse zoning rules for inviolable laws preserving ‘neighbourhood character’ instead of as a starting point for negotiations. (To its credit, Kitchener’s draft zoning bylaw does provide some transparency to this process by prescribing density bonusing rates.)

  • Four tall towers proposed on Courtland Ave (at the Block Line light rail stop) concern residents in Kitchener [The Record]