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 Ashley Ehrman chatted with Kari Williams, candidate for Regional Council, Kitchener. Here’s what Ashley had to say about their conversation:
Kari wasn’t able to make the ride we intended to do on Tuesday because her bike brakes couldn’t handle the rain. We were going to meet at the Breithupt Community Centre at the corner of Union St. and Margaret Ave. My intention had been to show how the double bike lane on the easternmost stretch of Union St. ends abruptly at Breithupt Park, and there aren’t many great options to travel east-west towards the KW core from there. Only a few of the quieter community roads have lights to cross busy roads like Weber, and almost none of them extend all the way to King St. The main east-west thoroughfares like Union, Erb, and Bridgeport are very busy and have very little bike infrastructure.
From the Community Centre my intention had been to cycle south on Margaret, showcasing great bike lanes all the way to the Central Public Library, and then relatively safe or slow streets from there to the Kitchener Market. We would have looped back via King St., showcasing how the great bike lanes and shared roads in the Kitchener city core end somewhat abruptly heading north of Victoria. Seems like there was a missed opportunity to integrate bike lanes onto King St. when the Ion was being designed (although maybe that’s because the Iron Horse trail is available nearby, if you’re willing to detour a bit to the west).
Although we didn’t get on our ride, I did bring up the main points to her on the phone. Kari and I discussed the lack of coordination between planning for active vs public transportation, and a lack of coordination between projects under city vs regional jurisdiction. So even though there has been fantastic progress on active transportation infrastructure since I moved away in 2017 (just returned last year), the trail and bike lane system seems somewhat disjointed. Kari told me she used to be car-free until the Ion was completed, at which point changes to the public transportation routes and schedules made it very difficult for her to get east-west across the city (my major complaint with bike routes, too). She believes stronger communication and coordination between the Regional Council and City Councils is a very straightforward way to ensure future planning considers active and public transportation as one cohesive system. She intends to make this one of her priorities if she were to be elected, listening more closely to input from the city councils. She also wants to solve confusion around current active transportation routes with better signage and maps, and advocate for connecting some of the disjointed bike routes. Overall, she was a very strong advocate for active and public transportation improvements. We also discussed development and affordable housing policies in the region, but that’s perhaps less relevant to CycleWR’s interests 🙂 Kari and I are still hoping to connect for a ride after the election, especially if she is elected.