Fate of Woolwich’s Historic Bridges
To Woolwich Township Council,
CycleWR is a group of people advocating for cycling in Waterloo Region to be a safe, respected, convenient, and everyday mode of transportation for people of all ages and abilities. There are many other organizations in Waterloo Region that take an interest in cycling — our top priority is in enabling utility cycling i.e. using a bicycle as a means of transportation for commuting, shopping and generally getting from point A to point B.
We know that you will be hearing from many people and organizations opposing the closure of Woolwich’s historic bridges. We will focus on arguments central to our mission.
We are very concerned that elimination of the historic bridges will severely impact the transportation options for citizens who live on both sides of each of the bridges. The bridges represent less-travelled routes which are perfect for those on bicycles who feel unsafe cycling next to high volumes of vehicles travelling at high speeds. People who cycle are also more sensitive to going well out of their way to get from point A to point B, given that they are using their own leg power to propel themselves.
We are particularly concerned with the fate of the Glasgow Street bridge which is a significant commuter route. The alternative route across the Northfield bridge feels very unsafe for most cyclists. As one indication of the traffic levels on the Glasgow St. bridge, the cycling application Strava records trips over this section of road by those who use the application (certainly not all cyclists!) Here is the data for northbound and southbound trips — as you can see, 900 cyclists who use the Strava app are using this bridge!
There is no reverse path after eliminating these bridges. Building new bridges would carry a very high price tag. If maintaining the bridges for vehicular traffic is too expensive, will you consider converting them for cycling and walking only? Particularly for Glasgow St., have you explored sharing costs with Waterloo Region given how it connects the township to the city? We would certainly throw our support behind such a proposal.
Cycling has proven benefits to both individuals and communities. It has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer by over 40%. A shift toward cycling will leave roads less congested and reduce spending required for new road construction, not to mention that a modal shift to cycling will help to meet our local 80% reduction target in greenhouse gas emissions. Research continues to show that cycling contributes to more livable communities and cyclists make better drivers!Studies show that people who cycle shop along their route and at their destination, often more than motorists.
At a time when we must reduce greenhouse gas emissions and focus on a healthier population, it is not the time to be discouraging cycling as a transportation option. We urge you to reject the possibility of eliminating these bridges.
David Trueman for CycleWR