It’s happening—Region of Waterloo staff are recommending 24 kilometres of new, temporary bike lanes to create more space for active transportation and allow more physical distancing for both cyclists and pedestrians.
This is an incredible opportunity but we need your help to make sure regional councillors vote in favour on Wednesday, June 24.
What you can do
- Fill out this form to let your regional councillors know you support this proposal. You can use our talking points below, but local politicians have told us that short, personalized messages are much more effective than seeing the same detailed arguments repeatedly. You can include one or two reasons, but the important thing is to be clear that you support this proposal and hope they do too.
- Fill out the EngageWR survey about the proposal: Rapid Re-Allocation of Road Space for Active Transportation to Address the COVID-19 Pandemic. We recommend you also email your councillor, as that sends an even stronger message!
Why we like this proposal
This is an opportunity to encourage more people in the Region of Waterloo to choose cycling as a mode of transportation. Below, we outline eight reasons we think this is a slam dunk for the Region. The first four are the arguments we think will be most influential with regional councillors, but you can use whichever ones resonate most for you.
1. There is an immediate need for increased space for active transportation to allow physical distancing during the pandemic.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is encouraging people to get around by cycling and walking “whenever feasible”—and people are! Our urban trails are very busy and this proposal helps keep those trails and sidewalks open and safe for more pedestrians.
2. We can take advantage of this unique opportunity to encourage modal shift, but we need to act now.
By creating more bike lanes before more people return to work and school, we can help people who are avoiding transit shift to bikes instead of to cars—and show the many people taking up cycling right now that it’s a feasible option for their commute.
- Eight schools would be served by the proposed Westmount bike lanes – imagine that many kids getting to school via active transportation, and the benefits to both mental and physical health!
- We’re hearing from bike store owners that people are buying and fixing bikes in droves, including people who haven’t cycled before, or haven’t in years—and that they’re doing so because of the pandemic and the advice of the WHO and other public health officials. By adequately supporting people who are newly cycling, we can retain a higher proportion of them after the pandemic subsides.
- We need this modal shift in order to achieve Regional climate goals. Enabling new cyclists allows more residents to do their part to mitigate climate change—and to be healthier and save money while doing so!
3. Protected bike lanes calm traffic.
Slower roads improve safety for all road users and reduces noise for neighbours.
4. It’s a very cost-effective method of implementing new bike lanes
Some people claim this project costs a lot of money, but in fact it is only 0.3% of the Region’s Transportation capital budget.
- Everyone deserves equal access to outdoor space and active transportation. Bike lanes help provide this access.
- Bike lanes are good for business. Just ask the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association.
- Semi-protected/protected bike lanes will get bikes off sidewalks, which we’re seeing more of as more new people take up cycling and are nervous about riding on the road without any protection from cars.
- These bike lanes will serve as an incredibly cost-effective pilot project and help gather data for future active transportation and road planning (especially given the upcoming work on Westmount Road).