Tag Archives: Cycling

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Week in review: October 22, 2016

Regional Budget

It’s time for the Region to start preparing next year’s budget again. Assessments are down, which means less natural revenue growth. The projected property tax increase to cover planned or anticipated expenses is about 4%.

At risk is the GRT business plan, which calls for increasing bus service by nearly 30% over the next five years. This is necessary in order to integrate GRT buses with ION light rail service and grow ridership by 40%. This will be a challenging task, one not made easier by the fact that ridership has fallen in the face of years of punishing fare hikes. Will Regional Council have the vision to continue to invest in transit in Waterloo Region, without gouging transit riders?  (more…)

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Week in review: October 15, 2016

Consultations and feedback deadlines

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Week in review: September 24, 2016

Consultations and feedback deadlines

TriTAG this week

On the blog, we questioned why vehicles were being prioritized over pedestrian safety at the corner of Queen and Charles, where the sidewalk tapers to less than a metre. We also called for an all-day frequent network for iXpress routes.

Headlines

14435018_10209333865217908_7389558894695083537_oION: Small sidewalk at Queen and Charles not permanent: Grandlinq (CTV Kitchener), Roads, intersections, and highway ramps reopening next week (CTV Kitchener)

Ride-sharing: Uber, other ride-sharing bylaw approved by Waterloo Region (CBC KW), Editorial: A Region rides into the future (Waterloo Region Record)

Development charges: Who pays for what will be quite a debate (Karen Scian for Waterloo Chronicle)

Traffic calming: Sunny Kitchener mural shines a light on fast drivers at Lancaster and Chapel streets (CBC KW)

Accessibility: Small steps still big barriers to wheelchair access, advocates say (Waterloo Region Record)

Transit fares: Group wants free public transit for the poor (570 News)

Trails: The City of Waterloo is getting close to counting its millionth trail user in 2016 (@CityWaterloo)

Top Reads

Schools: Guide to safer streets near schools (Toronto Centre for Active Transportation)

Cycling: Anonymous San Franciscans are making renegade bike lanes (CityLab), Good riddance to the Prospect Park West bike lane lawsuit (Streetsblog)

Parking: I have met the enemy, and it is parking: Matt Elliott on Toronto’s biggest barrier to progress (Metro News)

Regional transit: Solving the Last Mile (Ryerson City Building Institute)

Planning: Jane Jacobs’s street smarts (New Yorker)

Self-driving cars and ride-sharing: Lyft president predicts private car ownership will be over by 2025 thanks to self-driving cars (CityLab), Report on how paratransit costs can be saved through new reservation tools, collaboration with ride-sharing services (NYU Rudin Center for Transportation), Can self-driving cars protect black people from police violence? (CityLab)

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Week in review: September 3, 2016

Consultations and feedback deadlines

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Week in review: August 27, 2016

Consultations and feedback deadlines

Transit

On the blog, Chris takes a first look at Grand River Transit’s upcoming business plan. Stay tuned for more over the coming weeks as we delve into the questions this report raises. Meanwhile, Mark spoke with Eric Drozd of 570 News about pedestrian crossings of ION tracks for the Traynor neighbourhood (interview starts around 22:50).

One Tuesday, the federal and provincial governments announced nearly $23 million in funding for transit projects in Waterloo Region. About half of the money will go to vehicle replacements and upgrades, while the rest will be spent on iXpress and ION connection stations (including a transit plaza at UW), and a new bus facility on Northfield Drive. (Here’s the full listing of projects in Ontario municipalities.) There’s also about $12 million left in Waterloo Region’s share of transit funding from the feds, with potential projects it could fund to be presented to Regional Council this fall. (more…)

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Week in review: August 20, 2016

Consultations and feedback deadlines

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Week in review: August 14, 2016

Consultations and feedback deadlines:

ION light rail

Grand River Transit

Bicycling

Vision Zero

Land use

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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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Regional budget 2016

The Region of Waterloo has now passed its budget for 2016. You may have seen headlines in the news about a bus to Hanson Ave, a discounted bus pass for Conestoga students, and discounted passes for refugee children, not to mention the ongoing light rail construction.

But there’s more happening in this year’s budget. Here are a few things we find in the Grand River Transit budget:

  • Introduction of electronic fare cards this year to replace tickets and passes
  • Installation of transit priority measures to keep buses on schedule
  • Relocation of the Cambridge Centre bus terminal to Hespeler Road to make ION aBRT more direct in 2016
  • A new bus garage will be built near Northfield and University to help GRT deploy buses to Waterloo routes
  • New stop platforms and shelters in 2017 for the future Ottawa iXpress
  • A new bus terminal at the University of Waterloo ION stop, to be completed in 2017
  • Realignment of the Fairway bus terminal and improvements to Conestoga Mall terminal’s pedestrian connections to integrate with the ION stops, to be completed in 2017
  • A new bus terminal at the future Block Line ION stop in 2017, where the 201 iXpress will likely begin and end its route

The GRT capital projection includes costs for facility renewal at Charles Street Terminal up until 2020, giving us an idea of when planners anticipate the terminal’s functions will be fully transferred to the Victoria Multi-modal Hub.

For active transportation, about $15 million is projected to be spent on cycling facilities in conjunction with planned road rework projects over the next five years. An additional $12 million will be spent on new sidewalk construction, both as part of road rework and separate projects. For 2016, about $4.4 million will be spent on cycling and walking, coming entirely out of development charge reserves rather than property taxes.  Projects anticipated for 2016 include multi-use paths along Franklin in Cambridge, protected bike lanes for Manitou Drive in Kitchener, and sidewalk infill on Westmount between University and Columbia.

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Shifting gears for climate in Waterloo Region

TriTAG sees itself as an organization focused on transportation issues. That’s not to say that we don’t have concern for environmental issues, but that we look at a wide range of benefits from improvements to how we get around, not just environmental – we’re also motivated by the impact transportation has on quality of life, public health, safety, social justice, economic growth, government spending, and even civic engagement.

All that said, we acknowledge the reality of global climate change, and our responsibility as a community to respond to it. World leaders have just adopted an agreement that will require sustained reductions in carbon emissions. Changes in transportation will play a role in how emissions are reduced, and walking, cycling, and transit can and should play a large role in that.

Transportation in Waterloo Region accounted for 1,467,858 tonnes of carbon emissions in 2010, or 40% of the Region’s total. The Regional Transportation Master Plan is anticipated to bring about 75,000 tonnes of emission reductions by the end of 2020, through the introduction of ION light rail and more iXpress bus routes. These changes are expected to increase transit ridership from about 5-6% today to 15-17% by 2031.

By comparison, the Region’s targets when it comes to active transportation are far more modest. (Even ‘wimpy’, according to the Easy Riders Cycling Club.) If the Region’s targets are met, it would only increase cycling mode share from 1% to 3% by 2031. From a climate perspective, this sort of change barely registers.

But cycling could play a much greater role in reducing emissions in Waterloo Region. A poll of Ontario residents last year showed that 67% would cycle more if their community had more and better cycling infrastructure. (more…)

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