Kitchener-Waterloo

New pedestrian, cycling provisions cheered by advocates

Curb lanes on a number of regional roads will be closed until late fall to allow for more cycling and pedestrian use — a move that has thrilled cycling advocates.

‘I'm overjoyed actually that there's been movement in this direction,’ David Trueman says

In April, cycling advocate David Trueman and others put a proposal to all the local municipal councils to free up room on the streets "to allow for essential transportation" while physically distancing. (Submitted by David Trueman)

Curb lanes on a number of regional roads will be closed until late fall to allow for more cycling and pedestrian use — a move that has thrilled cycling advocates.

In April, cycling advocate David Trueman and others put a proposal to all the local municipal councils to free up room on the streets "to allow for essential transportation" while physically distancing.

Last week, the region announced that after an overwhelming response to public consultation, curb lanes on several regional roads will be temporarily closed until October 31.

They will be turned into dedicated bike lanes.

"Well I'm overjoyed, actually, that there's been movement in this direction, particularly at the regional level," Trueman told CBC News. 

"It wasn't unexpected to see the cities do more for active transportation, but at the regional level it's really a game changer to have cycling facilities on major regional roads and long interconnected direct routes."

The following regional roads have been converted into bike lanes:

  • King Street/Coronation Boulevard/Dundas Street from Bishop Street to Beverly Street in Cambridge.
  • Westmount Road from Block Line Road to University Avenue in Kitchener and Waterloo.
  • Frederick Street from Weber Street to Lancaster Street in Kitchener.
  • Erb Street from Westmount Road to Caroline Street in Waterloo.
  • Erb Street from Peppler Street to Margaret Avenue (one lane only) in Waterloo.
  • Bridgeport Road, King Street to Margaret Avenue (one lane only) in Waterloo.

More cars on the road

Trueman says traffic has changed drastically since the pandemic hit, so the roads have "excess capacity."

"There are certainly more cars on the road than there were back in March, but if you look at the congestion data for our streets — this is available on tomtom.com — you'll see that our morning and afternoon peak rush hours have essentially disappeared," said Trueman, who is on the board for the Waterloo Cycling Club as well as the steering committee of CycleWR.

"So, people are out, but they are not aggregating in those peak hours, and traffic congestion is all about managing peaks. The roads have been engineered to handle those morning and afternoon peak rush hour times, and they are no longer the busiest times of the day, so it means that there are roads that really do still have lots of excess capacity."

Trueman thinks that trend will continue due to the number of workers remaining at home and universities having adjusted in-class plans this fall. 

Cities look at re-allocating road space

The City of Kitchener has also approved a range of changes to the city's streets and trails, while Waterloo says it is creating safer spaces for walking, cycling and other modes of active transportation.

Cambridge staff have also been working with the region and neighbouring municipalities to consider options for temporarily re-allocating road space for active transportation during the pandemic. 

The City of Guelph will receive $8.35 million through the Investing in Canada infrastructure plan, some of which will be used to expand its protected bike path network. The project includes intersection improvements for people on bikes and protected bike lanes. 

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