CycleWR has spent 3 years developing a scientific methodology (the Cycling Route Effectiveness Model, or CREM) to assess the relative value of planned cycling routes. We have applied the methodology to the routes planned for the three major cities in Waterloo Region. We have reviewed the “Network Spine” cycling routes, as well as some other routes we felt might also be of high value in connecting important destinations in the region.
In Cambridge, we analyzed 52 “City-owned” potential cycling routes, in addition to 56 Regional routes. In the comments below, we will identify the rank of various routes out of the 52 City routes.
Based on the CREM analysis, we are recommending some changes to the cycling routes in the 2024-2033 budget project list.
We are pleased to see three of the top ten “City Owned” route segments in the ten year budget plan : Elgin Street from the railway to Glamis Road (#3), Grand Avenue from St. Andrews Street to Main Street (#5) and the Dan Spring Way upgrade (#10). The City is also planning to do part of the #11 route (Grand Avenue from Main Street to Blair Road). We hope the scope of that project will expand to include Grand Avenue between Blair Road and Park Hill Road, which is the full #11 priority route segment.
As usual, many of the planned cycling facilities are part of full road reconstruction projects. There is also significant budget money going to standalone cycling and pedestrian projects, where road reconstruction is not happening. One of these standalone projects provides questionable value for the tax money involved, in our opinion. It is the Hespeler Trail, south of the Speed River from Winston Boulevard to Guelph Avenue (the blue route – pin # 372 in the picture below).
The budget for this 800 metre long trail is $2.7 million – more than four times the normal cost of a Multi-Use Trail of this length. Not only is it far more expensive than a typical Multi-Use Trail, but the value the trail provides from a cycling perspective has just plummeted. Now that the Hespeler Speed River bridge is in the budget for 2027 (the red route – pin # 336), cyclists will use that bridge and the Mill Run Trail as the safest route to Hespeler north of the river. They will not use the Hespeler Trail, because they would still have to cross the Guelph Avenue Bridge and cycle up Guelph Avenue – a busy road with no cycling facility planned at the moment. Because of the high cost and limited remaining value, the Hespeler Trail comes out at # 45 priority among “City-owned” routes – one of the lowest priority routes in our CREM review.
CycleWR believes the $2.7 million could be reallocated to higher priority cycling routes within the current budget planning period, and that would give much better value for money. We suggest the following projects instead of the Hespeler Trail:
- Use some of the money to maximize the value of the Hespeler cycling/pedestrian bridge by creating a fully winterized and lighted route across the Speed River. That means paving and lighting 700 metres of the Mill Run Trail (the blue “Mill Run Trail Upgrade” in the picture below – estimated cost $560,000).
- Create on-road protected bike lanes on Saginaw Parkway between Green Vista Drive and Townline Road (the #1 priority for the City in our CREM analysis) This will connect to the Region’s planned Multi-Use Paths on Franklin Boulevard and part of Saginaw Parkway, which will extend all the way from Hespeler to the southern boundary and the Paris Rail Trail. Saginaw Parkway currently has very underutilized dual parking lanes. By reducing from two to one parking lane, we would create enough room to build on-road protected bike lanes with just paint and barriers – no road reconstruction required. It could be done quickly and at low cost (estimated cost $650,000). Saginaw Parkway is the blue line (pin #374) in the picture below.
There would still be money remaining from the $2.7 million saved. We could assess the remaining top 10 CREM priority routes to identify the best candidate(s) for “standalone” projects – projects that could be built in advance of complete road reconstruction at reasonable cost. If there are viable standalone projects, the remaining money could go into those projects. If not, CycleWR is recommending eight new signed wayfinding routes at the next Cycling and Trails Advisory Committee meeting – some or all of them could be implemented immediately with any remaining money. The Powerpoint deck linked below reviews the options in more detail.