In the months before the 2018 municipal election, CycleWR volunteers have been taking municipal electoral candidates for bike rides to show off the best and worst of the cycling infrastructure in their ward/city/region. For a full list of completed rides, click here. CycleWR is a non-partisan organization that does not support any particular party or candidate. Summaries are written by volunteers or candidates and may not reflect the mandate or views of CycleWR. For more information, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CycleWR volunteer Josh and our chair, Emily, went for a bike ride with Kitchener City Council Ward 1 candidates Stephanie Stretch and Scott Davey. Here’s the subsequent Twitter conversation:
Thanks to @joshfifty for taking us on a bike ride through Kitchener’s Ward 1! Lots of temporary (ie. pylons in bike lanes) and on-going issues, but some beautiful trails and residential areas nonetheless! & we didn’t lose @votestretch and @Scott__Davey going up the Lackner hill! pic.twitter.com/E7l6CNZUiT
— CycleWR (@Cycle_WR) September 14, 2018
— Stephanie Stretch (@votestretch) September 15, 2018
— Josh (@joshfifty) September 15, 2018
— Scott Davey (@Scott__Davey) September 14, 2018
Josh’s take on the ride and cycling in Ward 1
Ward 1 in Kitchener is adjacent to Ward 10, which includes downtown Kitchener and access to the Spur Line trail. Despite the relatively close proximity, I believe Ward 1 feels very isolated because all connections lack proper cycling infrastructure.
I did not feel safe during the ride because many of the important roads in Ward 1 do not have quality infrastructure for cyclists. I have to admit I was even nervous riding as a group with candidates. Ward 1 in general is not very inviting for people of all ages and abilities, and it’s extremely common to see people riding on sidewalks (including where painted lanes exist). When I’m able to convince my wife to ride with me, I’m particular about the routes we take as I know she is nervous to be around cars and isn’t familiar with what to look out for.
I felt that both candidates were concerned about the issues I brought up and had an interest in how cycling infrastructure could be improved. Since the ride, Stephanie Stretch has signed the CycleWR “I Bike, I Vote” pledge.
I’m looking for acknowledgement that the city isn’t doing enough for cyclists and a genuine push to build safe, meaningful cycling infrastructure. At minimum this might include:
- Ensuring city staff take Cycling and Trails Advisory Committee advice seriously and update road designs appropriately when making critical decisions that affect safety of vulnerable road users.
- Aggressively tackle low-hanging fruit. Make trail entrances smoother, quality signage, try cost-effective measures like bollards to make cycling more friendly, etc. Big changes can’t always happen overnight but it’s easy to make citizens recognize a strong effort.
- Install raised cycle paths instead of painted bicycle lanes on fast-paced roads.
If the majority of candidates who win this municipal election have signed the CycleWR “I Bike, I Vote” pledge, I would really hope to see real action in working towards a minimum grid as soon as possible.
More detail about the route they took and other issues Josh highlighted about Ward 1
I showed the candidates roads I ride into Ward 10 so they could see that there were no inviting options for people of all abilities to ride on.
- Ottawa Street North between Lackner Heritage Drive and Highway 7: Traffic speed is fast so the painted bike lanes do little for safety.
- Krug Street from River Road to Becker Street: No painted lines on the road for vehicles and no cycling infrastructure. Sharing the road can be unpredictable for all road users when cyclists and drivers interact.
- Frederick Street between River Road East to Bruce Street: Two westbound lanes turn into one at Bruce St and drivers often pass cyclists closely trying to find space to merge.
- Lackner Boulevard from Ottawa Street North + Bingemans Centre Drive/Shirley Avenue: High-speed motor vehicle traffic with bicycle lanes that randomly start and end.
Some other things I highlighted included:
- Victoria Street N is dominated by drivers and has no cycling infrastructure. Lots of businesses are on Victoria and it’s a fast way to access Breslau.
- Heritage Drive’s lanes are separated and narrow near Grand River Arena for approximately 250 metres. Biking here is uncomfortable because drivers have no way to pass and are forced to wait behind cyclists.
- Lorraine Ave traffic lanes, including painted bike lanes, weave back and forth around parking spaces. Sharing the road with drivers can be challenging as painted lanes require careful attention.
- There are two stretches of multi-use paths on Ottawa and neither make any meaningful connections. One is near Old Chicopee Dr and the other is near Nottingham Ave.
- Cyclists travelling southbound wanting to continue through Lackner Blvd across Ottawa St are forced to change lanes. The design is not obvious to drivers and poses a high risk.
Ultimately I feel that Ward 1 shouldn’t feel as disconnected as it does. Ride a bicycle up to 5km and you can reach a lot of destinations, especially for shopping and socializing.