Category Archives: Walking

Uptown-Albert-Erb-Caroline-rebuild-header2

Big Changes for Bridgeport, Erb, Caroline, and Albert

There’s going to be another major road project coming to Uptown Waterloo.

Reconstruction of Bridgeport, Erb, Caroline, and Albert.

That’s right. After LRT construction wraps up in 2017, and after the King St improvements bring protected bike lanes to King St in 2018/2019, the city and region will be replacing aging services underneath Bridgeport, Erb, Caroline, and Albert, and are taking the opportunity to revisit the design of these streets as they cut through central Waterloo.

Here’s a look at what’s proposed, (page 46, 12MB PDF) and below we’ll talk about what works, what doesn’t, and what needs serious improvement.

Concept plan for the reconstruction of Erb/Bridgeport/Caroline/Albert

Concept plan for the reconstruction of Erb/Bridgeport/Caroline/Albert

Major changes include:

  • A multi-use trail along the north side of Bridgeport/Caroline linking the King St bike lanes to the Laurel Trail at Erb
  • Narrowing Caroline north of Erb St to two lanes, and adding a new sidewalk on the East side
  • Narrowing Albert from two lanes to one, with a northbound bike lane and parallel parking
  • Changing Albert/Erb to a T-intersection
  • Sharrows on Erb St from Caroline to King

What Works

Adding a multi-use trail along Caroline provides a great bicycle link between King St and multiple trail entrances for Waterloo Park, and finally allows northbound cycle traffic up Caroline.

Crossing Albert on the north side of Erb will be made much easier. The current multi-lane off-ramp nature of Albert St is dangerous, making walking around the old Police Station unpleasant. The new T-intersection design reduces crossing distance, turning speeds, and even introduces new green space.

Reducing Caroline to two lanes helps solve the problem of traffic backing up in the right hand lane of Bridgeport east of King. Now traffic intending to go beyond King will use the centre lane, while those turning onto King and Regina Streets will be on the left and right hand lanes, distributing traffic better across the three lanes.

Potential Improvements

Albert St still needs a legal way to cycle southbound. By moving the parking to the east side of the road, there could be a contra-flow southbound bikelane on the west side, with the northbound lane shared between cars and bicycles, with a more appropriate use of sharrows. This also puts the parking on the traditional right-hand side, which will be easier for drivers to use. Parallel parking is tricky enough, and even more so when it’s on the opposite side of the car.

If the bicycle route along Bridgeport/Caroline is a multi-use trail, then why is there a southbound on-street bike lane and bike box approaching Erb? There is no way for bicycles to access the on-road bike lane from the trail, and if they could, it would be unsafe to merge cross the constant stream of right turning traffic. The intersection design assumes that cyclists are on the road instead of the multi-use trail, when the reverse should be true. We can’t keep ending trails at crosswalks, asking cyclists to dismount to continue. With the first cross-ride in Waterloo now in service at Erb/Peppler, there is now precedent for a two-way crossing on the west side of Caroline, which will finally allow the connection of the Laurel and Iron Horse trails.

What Doesn’t Work

Erb St, unfortunately, has a long way to go.

Erb, as proposed, with many lanes and large excessive shoulders.

Erb, as proposed, with many lanes and large excessive shoulders.

The sharrows proposed for Erb St are inappropriate. Sharrows work on low speed roads, not major high-speed multi-lane arteries. Sharrows are not a replacement for dedicated cycling infrastructure, and 2016 should be the year we stop pretending they are.

The width of Erb St is drastically wider than the planned use. There is no need for 3 through lanes and a painted shoulder lane. Staff mention a potential possibility for on-road cycle tracks, “without the need for additional construction,” but it would require waiting for “a separate, broader study to consider implementation of a two-way cycle track on Erb Street from Caroline Street to Margaret Avenue [which] will be completed by the Region of Waterloo in the future.” In the meantime, Erb will remain gratuitously wide.
A pedestrian crossing at Erb/Albert is dismissed, because there are fewer than 250 people crossing day, a number that is unlikely to change if Erb remains wide and hostile. Bridges are not built by counting the number of people swimming across a river; crosswalks should not be dismissed because few are willing to unsafely cross a high-speed 4-lane arterial.

An alternate concept for a right-sized Erb St featuring a shared bike and turning lane.

An alternate concept for a right-sized Erb St featuring a pedestrian crossing, and a shared bike and turning lane.

Here is a potential way to correct some of these issues. The right hand lane of Erb is used as a turn lane for the WTS entrance, and for King St. To prevent the speeding, cars cannot use it to drive from Caroline to King, only allowing cyclists to continue through, in what will now be a much lower-speed lane. The painted shoulder on the north of Erb is now removed, with the sidewalk moved south where it was. A pedestrian crossover is installed at Albert, allowing direct access from Albert to The Shops at Waterloo Town Square.

Send Your Feedback

These are just some of the suggestions that we have, but we’re sure you have more. Please send your own feedback, and be sure to attend the upcoming public information centre.

Feedback should be sent to:
Mr. Jim Ellerman, jellerman@regionofwaterloo.ca
Project Manager, Capital Projects
Regional Municipality of Waterloo

Mark Christensen, mchristensen@walterfedy.com
Project Manager
WALTERFEDY

Public Consultation Centre #1
Wednesday, January 27th, 2016
5:00p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
The Canadian Clay and Glass Museum
25 Caroline Street North, Waterloo

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northfield

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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Sidewalk Clearing – Time for Change

When I read the article this morning on our new Mayor’s viewpoint on sidewalk clearing, I was very sad. Two very crucial points stood out for me.

Whether or not our Council decides that clearing sidewalks is right for our City, or if building a new arena is the answer, or investing more into the economy or the arts, these decisions cannot be decided upon by the costs of the LRT. I feel a sense of deja vu, back to the RIM Park days when our City Council was held hostage to the RIM Park financing costs and were reluctant to move forward on any other spending for fear of the public backlash.

Trust me, I know that Council should always consider spending and how it will affect the tax payer, but it should not, and cannot be the only consideration.

The second point that stood out for me, was the Mayor’s comment that we can’t move forward because there is little public interest. The following is from the City of Waterloo’s own Transportation Master Plan:

‘From a Complete Streets perspective and developing a “City that is accessible to all”, there is a fundamental need to ensure that public sidewalks are accessible to all through timely and consistent removal of snow and ice. Winter maintenance has been an issue raised by the community under this TMP and the number one issue raised by the Grand River Accessibility Advisory Committee.
Expanding the City’s current sidewalk snow clearing program would promote and enhance safe and accessible pedestrian movement, encourage greater pedestrian and transit use and help make the shift to alternative modes of transportation. This would ultimately reduce the negative impacts and costs to widen more roads and intersections. A phased approach to implementing an expanded program would assist in the budgeting of this program, therefore the focus would be on higher
pedestrian and transit routes. Recommendations of this TMP include reviewing current city practice to identify efficiencies in service, an increase in the existing sidewalk snow clearing program of $100,000 per year over the next five years, subject to the 2012-2014 budget process, and develop a mid to long term strategy to expand the program where necessary. ‘

4 years ago, public input showed that clearing sidewalks mattered and should be considered in order to make our city more accessible. And that public interest, as far as I can see, has only grown in the last four years. not waned. It is an important piece for accessibility when we live in Ontario, and snow is a reality for upwards of 5 months out of the year.

Sorry Mayor Jaworsky, it is time for our City to embrace this change.

Janice Moore is the former chair of the City of Waterloo Recreation and Advisory Committee, and a current member of Waterloo’s Active Transportation Committee.

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Photo credit: simmogl on Flickr 2008. Licensed under CC-BY-NC

Winter Sidewalk Round-Up

A lot can change in a week or two. When TriTAG set better winter sidewalk maintenance as one of its priorities for the year, seeing political movement on the issue seemed almost beyond reach. But thanks to your letters to councillors, the path has been cleared to real public debate about where our community’s priorities lie with winter mobility.

Here’s a breakdown of the story so far:

On Tuesday of last week, The Record published a column by Professor Alejandro López-Ortiz calling on our cities to plow sidewalks like they do roads. This week, Kitchener Post columnist James Bow also called on Kitchener to investigate offering this service.

After seeing the positive public response to López-Ortiz’s column, TriTAG published its councillor contact form, allowing you to raise the issue with your representatives. Many of you did.

We also searched our past municipal election surveys to remind you of what your elected representatives promised regarding winter sidewalk maintenance.

In response, Mayor Berry Vrbanovic and Kitchener City Council voted to review its sidewalk clearing policy, and reconsider the possibility of plowing sidewalks as other cities like London and Mississauga do. Regular Record columnist Luisa D’Amato praised the move as part of the mayor’s broader approach to governing. Councillor Dave Schnider also invited feedback from the public:

Meanwhile in Waterloo, Councillor Brian Bourke put out an online survey  to gauge public support for changes to sidewalk policy and how to pay for it. At the time of this post, more than three quarters of respondents support the city plowing sidewalks, with nearly two thirds in support of a tax increase of at least $20 a year to pay for it. Councillor Bourke also appeared on the 570 News Midday Show to discuss the pros and cons of the city taking on this responsibility. Waterloo has yet to direct staff to study sidewalk clearing, but it is encouraging to see members of council begin to open up the discussion.

We’ve only just gotten the ball rolling by getting municipalities to consider sidewalk plowing as a possibility. We need to continue to engage with our public officials and help them evaluate the options that municipal staff lay out in the coming months. Please consider taking a few minutes to write to your elected representatives and supporting sidewalk clearing as a Regional priority, so that this story ends with sidewalks that are accessible to everyone.

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Photo credit: simmogl on Flickr 2008. Licensed under CC-BY-NC

What your elected representatives have to say about sidewalk snow clearing

Last year, we surveyed municipal election candidates on a number of questions regarding transit, walkability, bicycling, and development. Below are what some of our current representatives had to say about keeping sidewalks usable in winter. If you’d like to get in touch with your councillors to talk about winter sidewalk maintenance, you can do so with our contact form.

Mayor Berry Vrbanovic“As our community ages, and from an accessibility improvement point of view, I am also prepared to engage our community and again look at city-wide snow clearing of sidewalks as a possible future service enhancement.”

– Berry Vrbanovic, Mayor of Kitchener

(more…)

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ACP

Waterloo Region leads in Active Communities Pledge

Find our election survey for Waterloo Region, Cambridge, Kitchener, and Waterloo candidates at tritag.ca/election2014

For Immediate Release

Campaign invites municipal candidates to endorse cycling and active transportation
before Waterloo Region residents go to the polls on October 27th

WATERLOO REGION – September 2, 2014.  Twenty-four municipal candidates from Cambridge, Kitchener, and Waterloo have pledged to support walking and biking in their communities if elected, more than all other Ontario municipalities combined. In the wake of recent opinion polls that show growing support for measures to promote cycling, this Ontario-wide campaign is asking candidates in the upcoming October 27th municipal election to back policies that support cycling and other forms of active transportation.

In addition to having the most council and mayoral candidates supporting the pledge, the Region also boasts the first two school board trustee candidates to support safer walking and cycling to school. (more…)

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Uptown streetscape: be heard!

King St. with protected bike lanes

A profile of a human-friendly Uptown

Hopefully, by now you’ve had a chance to see the new proposal for Uptown Waterloo’s new streetscape, and how King St. could be reshaped all the way from Erb up to University. If you haven’t, go ahead and take a look at the public information boards presented last Thursday. You can also read more about the project’s evolution here.

This proposal needs your support. Please provide your feedback on the Uptown Streetscape project by email to Barb Magee Turner (barb.mageeturner@waterloo.ca) and Eric Saunderson (esaunderson@regionofwaterloo.ca) by Thursday June 12th! Tell them what you like about it, how you see yourself using it, and any suggestions for further improvement. NEW: Write to the project managers and members of council with our easy contact form.

Not sold on protected bike lanes yet? Check out our infographic. Or, read on for more details on why this is the right fit for uptown.

TriTAG believes the new proposal is a vast improvement over the November 2013 plan. Whereas the old plan was presenting awkward and potentially dangerous cycling infrastructure, the protected bike lane solution for Uptown isn’t just good for cyclists, but for everyone.

Uptown streetscape functional drawing

Wider sidewalks, protected bike lanes, parking and safer lanes for Uptown

The presence of protected bicycle lanes will help to attract people to uptown by bike, including many who do not cycle now, some who do bike but avoid King St, as well as the influx of thousands of new residents coming to the intensifying King St. corridor. This increase of cycling is the experience of cities like Montreal, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York and Washington DC and was the subject of a recent study that found that protected bike lanes led to ridership growth of 21 to 171 per cent. Furthermore, this trend also appears to be a boost to business along the route.

Add to all this new data showing that protected bike lanes and their intersections don’t just feel safe, they’re also very safe in practice.

King St. North will serve everyone better with protected bike lanes, pedestrian islands and turn lanes.

King St. North will serve everyone better with protected bike lanes, pedestrian islands and turn lanes.

But ultimately, every customer of a King St. business arrives on foot whether they travel by car, bike or transit. The new proposal shines here, too. Space will allow for both wider, more welcoming sidewalks, and increased ability for pedestrians to cross King St. by slowing traffic, introducing crossing islands, and reducing crossing distances. Meanwhile, the protected bicycle lanes will get cyclists off the sidewalks and provide an extra buffer from traffic that will make the pedestrian realm even more comfortable.

uptown3

Click to see TriTAG’s protect bike lane infographic for more.

It’s unfortunate that for a few, none of this matters as much as the removal of 22 on-street parking spaces. But as we have pointed out before, this is a tiny fraction– less than 1%– of the Uptown parking supply. Furthermore, these lost spaces will be more than replaced by a new planned parking lot, with the opportunity to adjust to parking demands along side streets and with new development.

Space along King St. is precious, and we should be using it to its maximum effect. A small reduction in space for car storage gives us the chance to build an Uptown that is human-friendly, designed to safely move all road users, and truly welcoming. TriTAG believes this is a trade worth making, and we hope you agree.

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Jane’s Walks: May 2-4

This weekend, people all over the world will lead Jane’s Walks to showcase their communities. These walks can teach you about the history of your neighbourhood, show you the hidden beauty that you speed past every day, or open up new opportunities to enjoy you city. In KW, there will be some great walks run by your neighbours, community groups, and civic leaders.

Here are a few that TriTAG noticed, showing off some transportation possibilities and problems in this region.

Photo from  janeswalk.org.

Photo from Jane’s Walk.

Shortcuts and Poetry All Around: In downtown Kitchener, Janice Lee will show off some of her favourite walking shortcuts. There are hidden gems inside parks and
along paths that you might never see if you don’t get off your bike or out of your car! This walk starts on Sunday at 3pm.

Photo from  janeswalk.org.

Photo from Jane’s Walk.

Vehicular Architecture and Parking Policy: In uptown Waterloo, TriTAG’s Michael Druker explores the current parking situation and the governing decisions around parking in the city. Do you think there is too much parking uptown, or too little? The walk starts on Saturday at 2pm.

Photo from  janeswalk.org.

Photo from Jane’s Walk.

Walking and Cycling Challenges and Opportunities: Also in Waterloo, Councillor Angela Vieth and Anne Crowe of the Waterloo Advisory Committee on Active Transportation (WACAT) will examine some of the current cycling and pedestrian routes around uptown. You might find new routes, or learn how our streets could be better designed to help cyclists and pedestrians get around. Join them on Sunday at 2pm.
There are many more Jane’s Walks, and more are added to the website every day. Check out the full list of Waterloo walks and Kitchener walks, as well as a walk in Cambridge and one in Elmira.

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