Leading up to the 2022 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 Josalyn Radcliffe took John Vieth, candidate for Regional Council, Waterloo, out for a ride. Here’s what they had to say about the ride:
I recall one blissful afternoon when my husband said I looked like a muppet gleefully riding and waving to neighbours. Biking is an absolute joy for me. Cycling isn’t always easy in the region, however, and advocating for a larger and safer network is key to bringing this joy to others while also addressing the climate and health crisis. So on Monday, I joined the campaign by CycleWR and went for a ride with one of our candidates for regional council, John Vieth.
On my ride with John, I chose a dynamic route. We first rode down Northfield, a road with a suburban speed limit but designed like a minor highway. We stopped short of riding past the on-ramps to the 85, telling him I do not feel safe riding on the overpass. The paint on the ground does not make space for cyclists and the lane is often blocked and crossed unexpectedly by vehicles merging on and off.
John spoke about the need for grassroots movements to build public support for system changes and lamented that few in the Lakeshore North area take advantage of the many trails and public transit options. I feel it is difficult to recruit new cyclists to ride when the network can be at best awkward for new cyclists (‘beg’ buttons, new green squares at intersections, turning from protected lanes, etc) and at worst life-threatening. The fastest routes often recommended by Google include major roads (King St, Weber) or busy small roads without bike lanes and little room to pass. I spoke about linking with bus service and the barrier of infrequent service.
We then rode down the new market trail, a wonderful extension from the Northfield Ion station to the market, and we spoke about access and what it means to serve ALL residents. I spoke about the need to recognize the attention must be on the ones struggling most for a truly equitable approach. Rounding a beautiful new pond full of geese, we rode the uneven road in front of the St. Jacob’s outlets to round back to Lakeshore North. I noted my gratitude for the change (depressed curb) to the sidewalk that allowed easy access to the neighbourhood trail so I no longer needed to ride the sidewalk or jump the curb. Simple changes make a big difference!
I shared my hope as well for rural networks of bike lanes where many ride for leisure and sport with little to no protection from cars. I personally do not ride out there for fear of my safety on these 70-80km/hr roads, and every drive I fear I might hit someone where visibility is poor.
It was a far-reaching conversations in short bursts as we stopped at trailheads and train crossings. John listened to my concerns about our environment and assertion that representatives should also take responsibility as well for ecological well-being as they do for humans. Four years after riding with John’s wife, Angela, it was a pleasure to join this councillor and talk about cycling and building a region that centres and supports a range of active and public transport options.