All posts by Mike Boos

Mike is a new homeowner and father, who walks, bikes, buses, and drives his son around Kitchener.
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Week in review: May 23, 2018

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Consultations, feedback, and events

Transit

The president of the KW Chamber of Commerce declares transit the dominant issue of this provincial election. Meanwhile, ION testing is ramping up, Regional Council votes to keep advertisements off the outside of trains, and they’re hiring drivers!

Don’t forget to submit your feedback on the new proposed Stage 2 ION route by May 24.

  • What about the bus?
    • Love the bus, save your city (CityLab)
    • Five breakthroughs that could make you love the bus (CityLab)
    • U.S. transit systems are shedding riders. Are they under threat? (The Transport Politic)
    • Transit agencies must sell freedom (Remix)
    • Four things for transit agencies to remember in a world of driverless car hype (TransitCenter)
  • Farewell to fares
    • Estonia will roll out free transit nationwide (CityLab)
    • Paris gets serious about free transit (CityLab)

Sidewalks

Kitchener is readying plans to test different sidewalk clearing options. Beyond a moral obligation to ensure all people are able to get around in winter, our cities now have new provincial regulations for keeping sidewalks and bike lanes clear of snow and ice. Next week, Kitchener councillors will be asked to approve sidewalk infill in the Centreville neighbourhood.

Cycling

  • Province to foot bill for active transportation bridge in Cambridge (CBC)
  • Aiming for the bare minimum: why cycle tracks are the only way forward (Robin Mazumder)
  • Six secrets from the planner of Sevilla’s lightning bike network (Streetsblog)
  • When a bike lane battle goes nuclear (CityLab)
  • Don’t get too excited about Bike to Work Day (CityLab)
  • Planning for cycling in the dispersed city: establishing a hierarchy of effectiveness of municipal cycling policies (Transportation)
  • Five ground rules to help cities get the most out of dockless bike share (Streetsblog)

Vision Zero

  • Why Kitchener has started using ‘flexible delineators’ in the middle of roads (CBC)
  • Save lives with smarter, slower streets – not self-driving cars (Wired)
  • Study links rise of SUVs to the pedestrian safety crisis (Streetsblog)
  • How big data can help prevent deaths by speeding (Streetsblog)
  • Using road markings as a continuous cue for speed choice (Accident Analysis & Prevention)

The shape of our cities

  • New land needs assessment methodology for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (Ministry of Municipal Affairs)
  • Controversy over tower pushes city to review approvals process (The Record)
  • Kitchener’s $28,000 piece of real estate (The Record)
  • Parking diets for healthier cities (CNU Public Square)
  • The dream of a big home in the city is dying, and that’s okay (Globe and Mail)
  • Why Toronto (and Waterloo Region) needs more townhouses (TVO)
  • Green building isn’t enough; we need green zoning (Treehugger)

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Week in review: May 4, 2018

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Consultations, feedback, and events

Transit

  • New proposed Ion route into Cambridge bypasses much of Eagle Street (The Record)
    • Leader of “Stop the LRT through Preston” on suggested route through Cambridge: “was a real surprise” (570 NEWS)
    • Editorial: Cambridge’s proposed light rail route appears on track (The Record)
  • Cambridge GO trains to be subject of feasibility study (CTV)
  • Track improvements in Guelph start April 30 (Guelph)
  • Minneapolis figured out the formula for increasing bus ridership (Streetsblog)
  • Don’t forget buses: six rules for improving city bus services (The Conversation)
  • “If you are very fortunate you are a minority, and the way we transform a city with public transit is not to appeal to minority tastes” (CodeRedTO)

Municipal elections

Nominations for municipal elections are now open! At the time of writing, we’re aware of the following people who have either filed or indicated intent to file nomination papers:

  • Waterloo:
    • Dave Jaworsky, mayor (incumbent)
    • Sandra Hanmer, ward 1 councillor
    • Jen Vasic, ward 5 councillor
    • Devon McKenzie, ward 7 councillor
    • Bob Oberholzer, regional councillor (candidate in 2014)
  • Kitchener:
    • John Gazzola, ward 3 councillor (incumbent)
    • Christine Michaud, ward 4 councillor
    • Melissa Bowan, ward 9 councillor
    • Debbie Chapman, ward 9 councillor (candidate in 2010)
    • Elizabeth Clarke, regional councillor (incumbent)
  • Cambridge:
    • Doug Craig, mayor (incumbent)
    • Karl Kiefer, regional councillor (incumbent)
  • You’re no “climate mayor” if you’re not doing these four things (Streetsblog)

Provincial elections

  • Transit talk:
    • Ford says PCs would fund all-day 2-way GO but Liberals question how (CBC)
    • Parties try to get on track with voters as transit emerges as campaign issue (CBC)
  • Buckle-up your Greenbelts for this wild ride:
    • Doug Ford assured developers he plans to open up Greenbelt to housing development (The Star)
    • Ford abandons proposal for Greenbelt development after blowback (CBC)
    • Wynne vows to expand Greenbelt into Waterloo Region (CTV)
    • Doug Ford’s housing proposal is the right idea for the wrong place (Globe and Mail)

Cycling

  • Letter from the Region indicates construction on the Uptown bike lanes will resume May 14 and take 6-8 weeks. It also admits that the “no parking” signs for the bike lanes haven’t been enforced.
  • Iron Horse Trail closed for 5 weeks (The Record)
    How hard would it really be to get a bunch of pylons and make the detour route a cycle track?
  • NACTO trip data deflates dockless bikeshare hype (Streetsblog)
  • Study: people who bike to work live longer than people who drive (Streetsblog)
  • What’s in a name? KPL bike book trailer needs a moniker (The Record)
  • Think walking or biking to work would take too long? Think again (New York Times)

Vision Zero

  • Petition leads to crosswalk behind Baden school (The Record)
  • Photo radar coming to Toronto school zones this summer (The Star)
    Sadly, our own Regional traffic engineers don’t seem particularly enthusiastic on safety cameras. Last year staff spoke of developing regulations so that automated speed enforcement would not be “overused” – as if we don’t deserve to have safe speeds on every street. 
  • We can’t stop every attacker – but with better roads, we can save lives (The Globe and Mail)
  • We must not separate the spike in vehicular terrorism with urban planning that neglects pedestrian safety (The Stranger)

On the next Protested Development…

  • Kitchener market wrestles with ongoing parking headaches (The Record)
    Just charge for parking already!
  • Parking garage a stone’s throw from LRT is transit-friendly, city says (The Record)
    It’s not.
  • Brainstorming new life for Electrohome eyesore (The Record)
  • Beware ‘smart’ cities (CityLab)

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Week in review: April 27, 2018

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Consultations, feedback, and events

Winter’s last hurrah

  • Winter in spring reinforces need for municipal sidewalk clearing (The Record)

Vision Zero

  • Driver runs red light, hits pedestrian in Waterloo (CTV)
  • Twenty-five minutes of horror on Yonge Street: How the Toronto van attack unfolded (Globe and Mail)
  • The truck driver who nearly killed me got away with a $125 fine (Globe and Mail)
  • Can you see me? AV’s and pedestrian safety (TCAT)
  • Traveling by bus instead of car on urban major roads: safety benefits (Journal of Urban Health)

Transit

On Monday, spring service begins for Grand River Transit, including the new 205 Ottawa Street iXpress, which will be free on Fridays until August. For transit users near King and Victoria, good news: the northbound ‘floating’ bus platform will be back in service too.

  • Bombardier says it’s ‘doing everything’ to finish Waterloo region’s LRT order (CBC
    Where have we heard this before?
  • Regional councilor: Lawsuit will be coming against Bombardier for losses due to late LRT vehicles (570 News)
  • Public to receive monthly updates on LRT (The Record)
  • Why does ridership rise or fall? Lessons from Canada (Human Transit)
  • Politicians, planners try to read tea-leaves on Doug Ford’s plan for transit (Globe and Mail)

Cycling

Last week, we were at the Ontario Bike Summit in Toronto. We learned a whole bunch, saw the City of Waterloo take home a Gold Bicycle Friendly Community Award, and heard Minister of Transportation Kathryn McGarry announce the CycleON Action Plan 2.0 and the provincial cycling network. We also picked up a copy of the Complete Streets Game – you can try it out at the CycleWR meet & greet on Sunday!

We’ll have more to say over the next little while about the summit and what Waterloo’s new award means.

  • Polling shows 2/3 of Ontario residents want province to invest more in cycling infrastructure (Share the Road)
  • Riding a bike to work may be the secret to happiness (Georgia Straight)
  • Bicycle urbanism by design (Next City)
  • As Seattle struggles with bike lanes, Vancouver, B.C., has won the battle (Seattle Times)
  • Pro tip for managing dockless bike-share “clutter” — give them space on the street (Streetsblog)
  • Using crowdsourced data to monitor change in spatial patterns of bicycle ridership (Journal of Transport and Health)

The shape of our cities

  • Kitchener condo project to be tallest building in the city (The Record)
  • No end in sight for Waterloo Region commercial real estate boom (The Record)
  • New book explores the latest and greatest research on parking, the “Cinderella of transportation” (The Bay Link)
  • Retooling the suburbs (Corporate Knights)

The road ahead

  • Can new vehicle technology prevent attacks like the one in Toronto? The experts aren’t so sure (CBC)
  • For a much-needed win, self-driving cars should aim lower (Wired)
  • Cars are ruining our cities (New York Times)
  • This take on congestion pricing might blow your mind (KUOW)

Read More »

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Week in review: April 17, 2018

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Consultations, feedback, and events

Cycling

A few of us from the CycleWR team are off to the Ontario Bike Summit this week, thanks to the generous sponsorship of the Berlin Bicycle Cafe.

TriTAG member Mike Boos is interviewed about the challenges of shifting people to use different transportation modes, the recent doubling of the share of people cycling, and why twice as many people cycle in Waterloo as in Kitchener.

  • Franklin bridge project proceeding without city changes (The Record)
  • Poll shows Ontario voters care about biking issues, advocates say (The Star)
  • The slow road through climate change (University of Waterloo)
  • Edmonton’s new bike lanes installed at ‘municipal light-speed,’ NYC transportation guru says (CBC)
  • Ghent – changing the whole circulation plan overnight: a strong political decision (Copenhagenize)

Transit

  • No LRT service until at least December in Waterloo region (CBC)
  • LRT delivery delays have cost the Region $25 million (The Record)
  • Greater Toronto Airports Authority and Metrolinx announce commitment to work together to study regional transit and passenger centre connections (Pearson Airport)
  • The potential of autonomous electric buses (Strong Towns)

Vision Zero

  • Alarm bells raised about safety of Chicopee Hills school crosswalk (CBC)
    When you want to make a place for schoolchildren to cross the street, but you’re unwilling to let traffic slow down even a little to make sure they are safe.
  • Toronto cyclist seriously injured in crash supports NDP road safety bill (CBC)
  • ‘Cannot happen again:’ changes called for after bus crash at deadly intersection (570 News)
  • #MeToo: Woman (and her child) on foot (big orange bike)
  • Cycling injury risk in London: A case-control study exploring the impact of cycle volumes, motor vehicle volumes, and road characteristics including speed limits (Accident Analysis & Prevention)
    Less traffic + more bikes = fewer collisions
  • Factors associated with cyclists’ self-reported choice of lane position (Transportation Research Part F: Psychology & Behaviour)
    “Taking the lane” can be more dangerous in a single lane with no parking – like along much of the ION corridor.

The shape of our cities

  • Years-long wait in patio rules along LRT may finally be over (The Record)
  • Uptown Waterloo BIA hires new executive director (The Record)
  • Former BlackBerry buildings pull new investors into Waterloo Region (The Record)
  • A housing crunch is dashing dreams in Kitchener-Waterloo (TVO)
  • Toronto developers hope to build a better townhouse (Globe and Mail)
  • Ontario’s housing minister believes cities will use new zoning powers wisely. Toronto sets out to prove him wrong (TVO)
  • When it comes to garbage trucks, bigger is no longer better (The Star)
  • How much parking near transit is too much parking near transit? (Planetizen)

The road ahead

  • The Great Democratization of Transportation – The Fourth Wave (Gabe Klein)
  • As new transit startups take over streets and sidewalks, cities need to step up (Curbed)
  • After Facebook, ‘Smart Cities’ need a regulatory reckoning (CityLab)
  • Cities need to band together on self-driving cars (Slate)

Read More »

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Week in review: April 11, 2018

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Consultations, feedback, and events

Cycling

There’s a growing chorus of voices for a minimum grid of safe cycling facilities in Waterloo Region. Catherine Thompson of the Record covers efforts to bring a protected network to Kitchener.

  • Attitudes to cycling study reveals a third of London’s cyclists started since appearance of safer infrastructure (Cycling Industry News)
  • How the humble bicycle can save our cities (Fast Company)
  • Instead of whining about people who walk and bike breaking the law, how about fixing the problem? (Treehugger)
  • Incorporating multimodal network connectivity measures into planning processes (Alta Planning + Design)

Bike share

The Working Centre has shut down Community Access Bikeshare. To fill the void, the Region appears poised to enter an agreement with Dropbike, a Canadian startup, for a pilot this year, as it prepares plans for a longer-term bikesharing strategy. Dropbike features dockles bikes that can be rented for $1 an hour via a phone app.

  • Uber acquires dockless bike-share startup Jump (The Verge)
  • Effects of the London Cycle Superhighways on the usage of the London Cycle Hire (Transportation Research)

Vision Zero

  • NDP MPP to reintroduce road safety bill aimed at stiffening penalties against drivers (CBC News)
  • Safety signs removed from Davisville school zone in the interests of . . . safety (The Star)
  • Humboldt team bus crash is a tragic reminder that we need safer roads (Globe and Mail)
  • When covering car crashes, be careful not to blame the victim (Columbia Journalism Review)

Transit

Consultations continue for the 2018 transit network changes. The plans still lack a connection between the 202 University iXpress and ION.

The shape of our cities

Kitchener’s comprehensive zoning bylaw overhaul draws near to a close, sort of. Half the city, including residential areas and locations under Official Plan appeals are being left out, to be dealt with at a later date

  • Patios expected to sprout soon along LRT line (Kitchener Post)
  • Kitchener OK’s office project (The Record)
  • Council endorses pursuing Uptown realm strategy (Waterloo Chronicle)
  • Huck Glove redevelopment merges old, modern (The Record)
  • Ontario cities are proving themselves as city-building leaders (Pembina Institute)
  • The Ontario Municipal Board will soon be no more. Here’s what that means for you (CBC News)
  • How transit-oriented development can prevent displacement (CityLab)
  • Housing: a shortage of cities (City Observatory)

The road ahead

  • Astounding photos capture graveyards of unused dockless vehicles (Slate)
  • You can’t be a ‘climate mayor’ if you’re making more room for cars (Curbed)
  • The Ben & Jerry’s crash course in transportation economics (City Observatory)
  • The bright, shiny distraction of driverless cars (NY Times)
  • The driverless future is still a long way off (The Record)
  • Car companies failed at regulating themselves. Why would autonomous car companies be different? (Streetsblog)
  • In theory, driverless cars could make Toronto’s roads safer, but, if so, when? (Toronto Star)

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Week in review: April 2, 2018

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Consultations, feedback, and events

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Week in review: March 26, 2018

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What’s next for transportation in Waterloo Region?

What could transportation look like in Waterloo Region in 23 years? That’s the question Regional planners are trying to answer as they update the Transportation Master Plan for 2018-2041. After months of consultation and study, they’ve got some ideas about what to recommend to Council, but they’re looking for your feedback. Here’s something of a snapshot of what they’ve figured out so far.

Taking stock of where we’re at

To know where we’re going, it’s important to look at where we are and where we’ve been.

Staff note that transit ridership growth has stagnated recently. But cycling mode share has doubled the last five years, and walking has grown considerably as well. The Moving Forward consultation documents downplay this by noting that walking, cycling and transit still make up a small share of even short trips. However, if active mode share can increase at these rates following modest municipal efforts, imagine what coherent and safe cycling networks, better land use, and frequent transit could accomplish!

Regional staff have also done a commendable job of trying to understand what barriers people face when considering walking, cycling, or transit. The study shows great potential for more diverse transportation options, provided barriers can be addressed.

5% of trips are now made to destinations outside the Region. About a quarter of trips in and out are between here and Guelph, another third are to the western GTHA – Hamilton, Milton, Burlington, Oakville, Mississauga, and Brampton. There’s more need for better transit connections to these locations than just in and out of downtown Toronto.

What’s proposed

Earlier in the process, looked at a number of scenarios, including a continuation of the existing transportation master plan, a reallocating of some road space to give cycling priority along with a potential Stage 3 ION light rail, and what possibilities might emerge from “new mobility” like autonomous cars and ride-hailing. 

Staff are now recommending something of a hybrid between the status quo and more transit and active transportation. Some less urgent road widenings or constructions would see deferral, the savings from which would largely close gaps in the active transportation network, and a 10-minute frequent transit network would be created.

In addition, some roads would have lanes repurposed to create protected cycling facilities. These would include Erb/Bridgeport from Uptown to Highway 85, Frederick/Benton from Courtland to Lancaster, and Victoria from Park to the Grand River. Stage 3 ION would be planned along either Erb-University-King or Highland-Victoria, but not likely built within the 2041 timeframe. 

What we like

  • Induced demand is mitigated by deferred road projects and re-allocating space to cycling. While it could go further, it’s definitely a step in the right direction.
  • There’s finally dedicated funding for cycling, from the savings in road project deferrals. Active transportation infrastructure would make up nearly a quarter of the Region’s spending on right-of-way capital costs.
  • A 10 minute frequency transit network would give people the freedom to take transit on a whim and not fret over schedules. This will be a game-changer for ridership.
  • With cooperation from cities and the province, the Region would change the incentives around transportation choices, by reducing parking minimums, and imposing parking levies and congestion charges.
  • The corridor design guidelines would be reviewed. This will give us the opportunity to fix excessive and dangerous standards for lane widths and corner radii. The current standards prioritize fast traffic and fast turns over pedestrian safety.

What troubles us

  • The whole process is putting the cart before the horse (or is it the car before the house?) Transportation plans are being made before the land use patterns in the Official Plan update are known. Changes in the Official Plan could impact travel patterns used to establish the transportation plan. As Brent Toderian says, “the best transportation plan is a great land use plan.”
  • There’s still a great deal of unwillingness to deal with a little congestion to ensure cycling has adequate connectivity, coverage, and safety. This can be part of the changing of incentives around mode choices. 
  • A lot of hand-wringing seems to be taking place over transfers between buses (and soon, trains). High frequency transit networks reduce the ‘pain’ of transfers, but it can be hard to get to higher frequencies if transit networks are designed to minimize transfers.
  • There seems to be a lot of faith put into ‘flexible’ transit with adaptive routes or smaller vehicles. This may be useful in poorly designed, sparse areas, but planners should be careful not to expect this to scale well into denser, urban areas.
  • The proposed 2041 cycling network is a long ways out, and still shows significant holes with no Regional cycling infrastructure. City infrastructure could fill these gaps, but planning for these networks are performed separately. There needs to be a co-ordinated plan for cycling infrastructure in the Region.
  • There is no mention of Vision Zero this time around, that is, a systematic, evidence-based approach to eliminating traffic deaths and injuries. We’re of mixed minds on this, while it could be more aggressive and actually prioritize and set a target for zero deaths, the Region’s traffic safety program has been effective. The Vision Zero label isn’t necessary to shift towards zero traffic deaths, and some North American communities have regrettably co-opted it, watering down its aggressive approach to fixing infrastructure flaws, using it to justify crackdowns on vulnerable road users, and  deploying it as an empty slogan. The last Council debate on Vision Zero had us worried the Region would go down the same path.

Please take a few moments to share your comments with the Region on their Moving Forward plan. Feedback is due March 30.

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Week in review: March 17, 2018

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Consultations, feedback, and events

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Week in review: March 3, 2018

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