In 2018, 16 elected representatives across Waterloo Region pledged to fund a minimum grid of cycling infrastructure within the next four years and a number of other councillors also expressed their support for CycleWR’s work. Since then, we’ve been digging into the municipal budgets each year to see how this support is translating into real investments in cycling infrastructure.
Though we didn’t ask Cambridge councillors to make the pledge in 2018, we are excited to say our analysis shows that Cambridge has significantly exceeded our pledge goals! We’re also pleased to announce that we now have Cambridge representation on our steering committee and we’re kicking off this year’s budget analysis series with a look at the exciting new cycling facilities coming to Cambridge in the next few years, based on the 2021 budgets for both the City of Cambridge and the Region of Waterloo.
A note about calculating costs
Where the budget for the cycling facility is clearly identified separately, the costs identified in the budget documents are shown. However, the costs we’ve noted here are, in many cases, calculated by multiplying the number of kilometres on the route by the average expected cost per kilometre for that type of facility. These may not be an accurate estimate of the exact cost of that particular cycling facility.
The average budget cost generally assumes the road needs to be widened to put in the cycling facility. This may seriously overstate the marginal cost of the cycling facility. For example, new on-road bike lanes are being added to King Street in Preston, at a stated cost of $1.4 million. However, King Street was already wide enough to accommodate bike lanes, and needed to be rebuilt due to various utility projects, whether or not bike lanes were added. In this scenario, the marginal cost of the bike lanes is simply road paint and perhaps some minor design tweaks to accommodate the bike lanes for the whole length of the street—far less than $1.4 million.
It should also be noted that only the 2021 budget year has been officially approved. Plans for 2022 and later years are subject to change, depending upon new priorities and Council approval in future budget cycles.
Achievements in 2020
Region of Waterloo projects
King Street bike lanes
Parts of King Street in Preston now have new on-road bike lanes. The remainder of the project will be completed in 2021, with bike lanes running from Bishop Street to Dover Street.
City of Cambridge projects
North Boxwood trail
This .5 km trail was completed in October, running between Maple Grove Road and Boxwood Drive.
Blair to Preston trail and Speed River bridge
The necessary environmental assessment for this major new connection from Preston to Fountain Street near Preston Parkway was completed this year. It will provide a safe connection from Preston to Blair and Kitchener. The actual bridge and trail are expected to be completed in 2023.
Trail repairs and improvements
Dan Springs Way bridge repairs: This beautiful (3 seasons) trail on the east side of the Grand River from the Cambridge Mill to Augusta Street is open again, after repairs to the two bridges on the route.
Devil’s Creek Trail: This trail running from Blenheim Road to the Grand Trunk Trail is open again after a retaining wall replacement and trail reconstruction.
Grand Trunk Trail: The trail from Blair north to Fountain Street was given asphalt surfacing and some new benches. A steep bridge further south was given handrails and epoxy/grit surfacing to improve safety.
Mill Run Trail: One bridge was replaced and paving and lines added to improve safety at the 401 underpass on this trail running from Preston to Hespeler.
Coming up in 2021
In the regional budget
King Street bike lanes ($1,338,000)
The remaining stretch of King Street from Bishop Street to Dover Street (1.5 km total) will get new on-road bike lanes in 2021.
Dundas Street bike lanes ($722,000 in 2021, $2,888,000 by 2024)
Phase 1 of the Dundas Street re-construction, from Briercrest Avenue (just north of Main Street) to Lowell Street (just north of Elgin Street), was completed in 2020. Bike lanes will be painted onto the new road surface in 2021. The plan is to extend the bike lanes up to Roxboro Road (two blocks south of Hespeler Road) and south to Franklin Boulevard in 2021-24.
South Boundary Road MUT ($1,113,000)
This brand new road was mostly completed in 2020, and should open in 2021. It includes a multi-use trail (MUT) on the north side only from Franklin Boulevard to Water Street. This new 2.8 km construction includes a new section of road that extends Franklin Boulevard (and its dual MUTs) to the South Boundary Road. It will create a continuous MUT route from Franklin Boulevard and Avenue Road to the Paris Rail Trail.
In the City of Cambridge budget
Dunbar Road MUT ($320,000)
A new 1.6 km multi-use trail is coming to Dunbar Road, from Concession Road to Hespeler Road. This will connect to various routes through the Dumfries Conservation Area. It will also connect to a trail that runs to the back of the YMCA parking lot on Hespeler Road. From there, access is possible to the Canamera Parkway MUT and the Conestoga Boulevard/Northview Heights MUTs. The Region is reviewing options for a 2024 cycling facility project on Coronation Boulevard and King Street from Concession/Dunbar to Bishop, which should make this MUT even more useful.
Beverly Street underpass ($2,720,000)
A new underpass will be built under the railway where it crosses Beverly Street. The underpass will be built to MUT width, and for the first time, pedestrians will be able to cross the railway line without walking on the roadway. The new tunnel will be a vital part of a full MUT along Beverly Street from Dundas to Elgin Street, planned for completion in 2023.
Hespeler pedestrian bridge ($250,000)
This money funds an environmental assessment for a potential pedestrian/cycling bridge across the Speed River at Queen Street and Winston Boulevard, connecting to the Mill Run trail across the river. This will allow cyclists to head from Hespeler to Preston on a much safer route than going through downtown Hespeler. There is no budget (yet) to actually build the bridge, but this is a necessary first step in a very exciting potential development for Hespeler.
Trail bridge maintenance ($258,000)
This money will fund repair or replacement of bridges or underpasses on the Mill Run Trail and Devil’s Creek Trail, and in Churchill Park and Woodland Park.
Sheldon Drive bike lanes
This project will add .5 km on-road bike lanes on Sheldon Drive from Wolseley Court to Franklin Boulevard, completing a bike lane connection from the Franklin MUT to the centre of the Hespeler Road commercial/industrial area.
Highlights for 2022-23
As noted previously, future years are more subject to revision as priorities change. Also, some potential projects are not shown, as they are still under review to decide what type of cycling facility to implement. With those caveats, here are some of the expected highlights for Cambridge in the next two years.
In the regional budget
Myers Road dual MUT ($2,378,000)
This project will develop 3.4 km MUTs on both sides of Myers Road from Water Street to Branchton Road by 2023.
Dundas Street bike lanes ($2,888,000 total from 2021-24)
As noted above, more of the Dundas Street on-road bike lanes will “come online” in 2021-2024, completing a 2.8 km route from Franklin Boulevard to Roxboro Road, two blocks south of Hespeler Road.
In the City of Cambridge budget
Preston/Blair cycling and pedestrian bridge ($2,180,000)
This bridge and .5 km trail across the Speed River is scheduled for completion in 2023, and will connect from the Fountain Street MUT near Preston Parkway to the north end of Preston. It will open up a great new connection from Preston to Blair and (in a roundabout fashion) the northwest corner of Galt.
Queen/Guelph MUT ($1,400,000)
This .8 km MUT scheduled for completion in 2022 will run between Queen Street and the Speed River, from Winston Boulevard to Guelph Avenue. It will make it much safer to approach downtown Hespeler from the West. It will eventually connect across the proposed Speed River bridge to the Mill Run Trail, creating a very safe route from the heart of Preston to the heart of Hespeler.
Beverly Street MUT
This new .6 km MUT planned for 2023 will run along Beverly Street from Dundas Street to Elgin Street, providing a more direct route from the Galt Core to Cambridge Centre than the current Mill Creek Trail.
Blenheim Road MUT
This new .7 km MUT planned for 2023 will run from the West Boundary of Cambridge to connect to the Devil’s Creek Trail, which then connects with The Grand Trunk Trail to Blair and Kitchener. It will serve the new Cambridge West community, which will also get $500,000 of additional money for trail development.
Black Bridge Road and Townline Road MUT
A new bridge will be built over the Speed River for cars in 2023, and the existing bridge will be converted to pedestrian and cycling use only. In 2024, a new multi-use trail will be built along 2.5 km from Black Bridge Road and Baldwin Drive to Townline Road and Wellington County Road 34.
North/South Collector Road – dual MUTs
This is a new road with dual MUTs to be built in 2022 to service the North Cambridge Business Park. This first section will run 1.1 km between Allendale Road and Middle Block Road, just east of Riverbank Drive.
Other trail work ($1,180,000)
The City also has $831,000 in 2022 and $349,000 in 2023 set aside for new trails in the Saginaw Golf, South Point and Pinebush/Branthaven areas, plus general bridge repair and other trail work.
Total budget set aside for cycling projects
Unfortunately, the City of Cambridge does not budget for cycling work separately from general construction costs when road work and cycling facilities are done together. Using the Region’s benchmark costs per kilometre and counting 50% of the Beverly Street underpass as a cycling cost, we can estimate the total City budget for cycling facilities at $9,508,000 for 2021 to 2023. The Region’s budget for cycling facilities in Cambridge for 2021 to 2023 is $8,047,000. We’re very excited to see that this exceeds what we called for in our election pledge in 2018, even if we’ve over-estimated a bit!
We’d love to hear from you about which completed or upcoming projects excite you the most! Photos and videos of trips on new facilities would be most welcome and would help spread the word. You can send those to firstname.lastname@example.org or tag us on Twitter using @Cycle_WR or #CycleWR.