Tag Archives: complete streets


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

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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Westheights Drive

It’s been a quiet little while on the civic front. While construction season has been in full swing, the decisions and debates that guide the placement of buildings and the design of our streets take a bit of a summer vacation each year, as municipal councils take time off.

But within a week, the gears of local democracy will begin to spin once more, carrying us to Westheights Drive in Kitchener. On Monday, the City’s Community and Infrastructure Services Committee will consider a proposal to make Westheights less like a racetrack and more like a bicycle-friendly neighbourhood street. The proposal would not require any new infrastructure, but would take the current four-lane road and re-allocate the space to make room for bike lanes buffered from traffic, dedicated on-street parking spaces, and school bus loading areas.

As is often the case, thinking differently about how the space on our streets is used can be challenging for many, even if the street has been a ‘priority’ in the Cycling Master Plan for the last five years. Committee approval (along with final Council approval the following week) would ensure that the project is completed this year. We’d encourage you to contact your councillors or even come to the committee meeting on August 10 to voice your support for better streets.

On a related note, the decision regarding a similar design for Union Street (between Margaret and Lancaster) has now been deferred until August 31. Opposition has sprung up to the proposal, despite there being no changes in traffic capacity or risk of parking undersupply. It is important that councillors and staff hear your support for changes like these – please consider taking a moment to let them know you’d like better bicycling facilities and a safer environment for Union Street as well.

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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 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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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.


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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INFOGRAPHIC: Why Protected Bike Lanes in Uptown Waterloo?

King Street in Uptown Waterloo  is being redesigned, and due to popular demand, protected bike lanes are now being considered as an option for the blocks between Erb and Central.

TriTAG is supportive of protected bike infrastructure because it can make bicycling an attractive choice to most people. This is a once in a generation opportunity to make Uptown a truly walkable and bikable place. But businesses have concerns about changes to the Uptown streetscape, so we’ve created an infographic to help understand the benefits and trade-offs of protected lanes. (more…)

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Could King Street look like this in the future? (courtesy ActiveTrans)

Could Uptown be Waterloo’s first protected bike way?

Uptown streetscape: lots of room for improvement. (image courtesy City of Waterloo)

Do you bike through Uptown Waterloo? What if you could ride along King Street protected from traffic by a curb and parked cars?

In a few years, King Street’s pedestrian-hostile four lane thoroughfare will be a thing of the past between downtown Kitchener and Waterloo Town Square. Implementing ION will mean removing two of those lanes.

In light of this, the city of Waterloo (in partnership with the region) wants to improve King from Erb St. all the way up to University Avenue. Their plan: trim the redundant road lanes that would dead end in Uptown, and use the room to provide better access for people on foot or bike. The goal: create a friendlier, safer Uptown with space for people to move around, shop, and enjoy the scenery, while smoothing traffic flow along King. As part of this plan, the city proposes to paint traditional bike lanes of sub-standard width in between rows of parking and road lanes heavy with cars and buses.

We think they could do a lot better: instead of sandwiching cyclists between open car doors and moving traffic, why not use those parked cars to protect people on bikes? King Street may be the perfect location for Waterloo to implement its very first protected bike lanes.

Could King Street look like this in the future? (courtesy ActiveTrans)

Protected bike lanes are paths for bikes along roads but separated from traffic by a curb, parked cars, or other barriers like planters. With as many as 60% of people interested in cycling but concerned about safety, protected bike lanes are cycling infrastructure for the rest of us. And their popularity has exploded, in places like New York, Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa, and Montreal. Even Guelph has installed curb-protected bike lanes on part of Stone Road: providing a friendly space for bikes has greatly reduced the amount of people riding their bikes on the sidewalk.

Protected bike lanes are effective because they feel much safer for casual riders and their families. How safe are they really? One study took a look at protected bike lanes in Montreal, and found that they substantially reduce injuries while attracting riders from less bike-friendly roads. The University of British Columbia has shown that on top of being preferable, protected bike lanes get top marks for safety.

But what’s in it for Uptown? Business owners and merchants, who customarily focus on more parking to bring in customers, could stand to reap huge dividends from the presence of friendly bike infrastructure. A study of Bloor West in Toronto found that pedestrians and cyclists visit local businesses the most often and spend more money than motorists. New York created the United States’ first protected bike lanes on 9th Avenue and consequently, businesses there saw a 49% increase in retail sales. Closer to home, Waterloo’s ongoing intensification means that number of potential customers within walking and cycling distances of Uptown is growing rapidly.

Protected bike lanes are coming eventually: evidence keeps building on the benefit they can provide to our urban environment, and they’re starting to attract Waterloo’s attention. Councillor Melissa Durrell has said that she would like to see protected bike lanes and we agree with her.

This is where you come in. A good idea needs support! Visit the public consultation (and submit your feedback), and write your councillors. Tell them Waterloo needs protected bike lanes. To make cycling accessible and safe for everyone, and to keep our Uptown vibrant and healthy, we need to be heard: It’s time for protected bike lanes in Waterloo.

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Ottawa/Borden LRT Alignment

Ottawa St, from King St to Mill St in central Kitchener, currently a two lane road flanked by driveways, single family homes, and some industry, is about to get a whole lot busier.

On the books for this 1 km stretch, according to the Region of Waterloo, are plans to:

  • Widen the road from 2 lanes to 4 lanes. (link)
  • Install dedicated biking infrastructure. (link and map)
  • Run the northbound leg of the LRT line. (link)

In total, 1 LRT lane, 4 car lanes, and 2 bike lanes (if not better, segregated biking infrastructure).

That’s an awful lot to fit in the 20 metre right-of-way (pg 7).  Comparing to road layouts planned for other sections of the LRT, it is apparent that this is a large amount to fit in the 30 metres between the front doors of the houses lining this stretch.

It is admirable to intend Ottawa St to serve all of these purposes, and there is no doubt that it is ripe for a rebuild and redesign, but there needs to be a holistic review of what we want to do with the corridor, and what we need to do with it, before we start digging.

If we blindly move forward with current plans for all of the road uses, it is likely that there will be great impact at great cost to the homes on Ottawa. At best, many homes will lose the majority of their lawns, and at worst, an entire side of the street will be expropriated, just as is happening on Weber St. Either way, this would be unnecessarily disruptive to an otherwise stable neighbourhood.

What can be done to mitigate this?  Something needs to move, and that should be the LRT which would be rerouted to Borden Ave.


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