Bicycle bike racks make return to downtown Kitchener after outcry

Downtown Kitchener will see bike racks return for the winter after cyclists and one business questioned why they needed to be removed last month.

Bike racks removed in October to make winter sidewalk plowing easier

The bike racks shaped like bicycles will return to downtown Kitchener for winter, the city says. (Twitter)

The bicycle-shaped bike racks will return to downtown Kitchener this week and will remain in place all winter after downtown businesses and cyclists asked for them. The decision overturns a previous move to take them down for ease of plowing sidewalks in the winter.

"We do recognize that there is a need for short-term parking for cyclists throughout the winter," Justin Readman, the city's interim executive director of infrastructure services, told CBC News.

The city found a few suitable locations where the bike racks will return this year, Readman said. They are planning to look for a few more locations for next year.

He also said the city wants to improve cycling infrastructure year-round.

'Why aren't there other bike racks?'

When the bicycle-shaped bike racks were first removed this fall, the art shop Open Sesame questioned why the bike racks were removed on Twitter.

"Where are cyclists supposed to park their bikes? Why aren't there other bike racks?" the business tweeted.

There followed a conversation between the business and the city on Twitter, where Kitchener suggested one of the secure indoor lots would be an option.

"My colleague says thanks but 'I shouldn't have to consult a website to figure out where to park my bike,'" the store tweeted and asked the city to consider installing racks that don't need to be removed.

The bike racks were removed to make sidewalk snow clearing easier for city staff. The racks will be returned to areas frequented by cyclists and ones that also work for winter maintenance crews. (Andrea Bellemare/CBC)

Going in areas frequented by cyclists

Being a winter cyclist himself, Readman said he understands why the outdoor racks are needed.

For people "who just want to stop and grab a coffee for 15 minutes," it's too much trouble to go to the secure bicycle storage area in parking garages.

"There are people who either choose to ride year-round or that need to transfer themselves by bike year-round, so we want to try and accommodate both of those," he said.

The bike racks will return either Wednesday or Thursday, weather permitting.

Mayor Berry Vrbanovic wrote in a tweet the racks will be going in front of "all places where cyclists frequent and we can make it work with winter maintenance."

Some examples he gave included in front of the city hall, near TheMuseum, near the intersection of King and Francis Street and in front of CBC K-W and Matter of Taste coffee shop.


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