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Segregated Bike Lanes Coming to Waterloo Region. Finally.
#1
Segregated Bike Lanes Coming to Waterloo Region.  Finally.


The Region's first segregated bike lanes will be installed by 2016.  

The Region of Waterloo announced in August that they will be installing segregated bike lanes on Manitou Drive between Homer Watson and Bleams.

This is exciting news for the Region, but simply put, it's the first of many steps that need to be taken.


[Image: manitou-drive-upgrades.jpg]
Proposed design of Mantou Dr segregated bike lanes.



We need to fully endorse and embrace these bike lanes.

One goal of the Region of Waterloo is to become a more active community, and that includes increased amounts of cycling.  Transit blog Transitized states that along Kinzie Street in Chicago, once segregated bike lanes were installed, they saw cycling activity increase by 55%.  That's a number Waterloo Region would love to get behind.  

A common theme I hear among people who don't cycle on city streets on a regular basis is that it's not safe.  I can understand that completely.  It can be scary to ride among cars and trucks.  Segregated bike lanes change this.  Transitized continues and explains that fewer injuries happen when segregated bike lanes have been installed.  Now, this isn't a huge surprise, but seeing that injuries dropped by 89% is very positive.  


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Segregated bike lanes result in 89% fewer injuries to cyclists.




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Cyclists would also be safer because they followed the rules of the road more often.  The Chicago Tribune reports that after segregated bike lanes were installed, they noticed a steep increase of 161% in the number of people obeying stoplights.

In Toronto, The Star reports that in the past two years since the Sherbourne Street segregated bike lane was installed, the number of cyclists has almost tripled.  According to reporter Louise Brown, "the boost in bicycles is proof that when cyclists feel safe they'll take to the streets in greater numbers and more often."


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The number of cyclists using the Sherbourne Street segregated bike lane has tripled since it's installation.




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We need to design these bike lanes better.

The Manitou Drive proposal would see bike lanes with a sloped curb rising up to an elevated riding surface.  A simple redesign, I think, would make these safer, and potentially cheaper to build.  

If we look at the segregated bike lanes recently installed in Ottawa along Laurier Avenue, you notice the riding surface is level with the diving surface but it is separated by a raised curb.  My concern with the Manitou proposal is that it wouldn't be overly difficult for a car to ride up onto the bike lane.  A raised curb would significantly reduce the risk of this happening.  Montreal has something similar, as does Memphis, Copenhagen and Seattle to name a few.  Why try to reinvent the wheel?  Let's learn from these communities.  

They're not bad for business.

The Manitou proposal has generated some opposition from local businesses though.  I think if they looked at the numbers, they might feel differently. 


A study in Toronto found that pedestrians and cyclists visited stores more often and spent more money in them than people who drove around town.  I think that's something most business owners would appreciate.  This happened in New York City too.  After a segregated bike lane was installed along 9th Avenue, local stores reported a 49% increase in business.


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After a segregated bike lane was installed along 9th Avenue, local stores reported a 49% increase in business.



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In Portland research shows that people would go out of their way to ride on a street with good bike infrastructure.  As a business owner, having a segregated bike lane in front of your business would therefore mean an increased amount of traffic.  My guess is that most business owners would want that increased traffic going by.


So the long and short of it is that while businesses think these will hurt them, the opposite is actually true.

Uptown Too!

City of Waterloo councillors are considering segregated bike lanes for Uptown Waterloo.  Not only should they approve these, but this should be the first of many areas to get them.


King Street has been identified as a significant growth corridor in Waterloo Region.  This can already be seen by all of the development along the thoroughfare from Downtown Kitchener all the way past the universities.  With all of that growth should the infrastructure not grow too?


But much like the Manitou proposal, there is opposition from businesses towards the Uptown Waterloo proposal too.  They say that the required loss of parking to install the bike lanes would hurt business.  Only 22 parking spots would be lost.  If you've been Uptown Waterloo lately, I don't think you'd say that there's any shortage of parking.  Maybe you might have to walk a block or two to where you're going.  Or maybe you'll have to pay a buck or two for your spot.  But you'll get a spot.  As the Tri-Cities Transit Action Group (TriTAG) states, this is less than 1% of all parking spots available Uptown Waterloo.   Losing 22 parking spaces at the expense of installing these bike lanes is a cost that needs to be incurred.  Plus, would the potential 49% increase in business along King Street not offset the potential business from the parking spots?


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Segregated bike lanes would only result in a 1% loss in Uptown Waterloo parking.




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Our transit system is currently undergoing an overhaul to work in a grid like system along busier arteries.  Should our cycling system not do the same?  Imagine a system of safe, segregated bike lanes along streets like Erb, Fisher Hallman, Homer Watson or University.  Not only would it provide a safe avenue for people to cycle, but it would take cars off the road, and despite recent arguments, it would help local businesses.  It seems like a no brainer to me.

Waterloo Region has taken a big step forward by voting to install these segregated bike lanes along Manitou Drive, but the work is not done.  We need more of them, and they need to be designed better.


What do you think?  Share your comments below.



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#2
Great read, I for one am looking forward to segregated bike lanes. Currently sections of Courtland Rd and Manitou Rd make up part of the Trans-Canada Trail, and this section feels rather unsafe.

I would really like to see improved cycling infrastructure along Courtland, it would help with active transportation connections into Cambridge.
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#3
(10-08-2014, 11:42 AM)nms Wrote: A step in the right direction, but I would still prefer that the boulevard and bike lane be switched.  The current bike lane design is not conducive to young or otherwise unsure cyclists.  It is also less likely to be a repository for everything brushed aside from the roadway like snow, glass or debris.
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#4
(10-08-2014, 12:34 PM)Spokes Wrote:
(10-08-2014, 11:42 AM)nms Wrote: A step in the right direction, but I would still prefer that the boulevard and bike lane be switched.  The current bike lane design is not conducive to young or otherwise unsure cyclists.  It is also less likely to be a repository for everything brushed aside from the roadway like snow, glass or debris.

So true, having the bike lane on the side of the roadway also makes it prone to flooding and puddling before and after rain. 
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#5
(10-08-2014, 12:52 PM)curious_look Wrote: So true, having the bike lane on the side of the roadway also makes it prone to flooding and puddling before and after rain. 

I don't agree. The design for the segregated bike lanes on Manitou will be that they are raised above, and angled to drain into the gutter alone the rolled curb.

[Image: actual_manitou.png]

As for swapping the boulevard and the bike lane, that brings us back to why multi-use trails were rejected, and that is too many conflict points with business driveways. At those conflict points, single-direction bike traffic next to the road was viewed by the region as being less of a risk than moving further away from the road.

That's a point worthy of debate, but I wanted to at least state the rationale that was presented.

When this went in front of the active transportation committee, I seem to recall a staffer saying that trail users would be obligated to stop or give way at each driveway, while a bike lane like this is part of the road and the driveway user must give way instead.
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#6
(10-08-2014, 01:14 PM)zanate Wrote:
(10-08-2014, 12:52 PM)curious_look Wrote: So true, having the bike lane on the side of the roadway also makes it prone to flooding and puddling before and after rain. 



When this went in front of the active transportation committee, I seem to recall a staffer saying that trail users would be obligated to stop or give way at each driveway, while a bike lane like this is part of the road and the driveway user must give way instead.

This is very interesting.  Thanks for sharing.
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#7
This is a very similar design to a lot of the segregated bike lanes in Copenhagen. They seemed to work fantastic there, but I imagine there might be a need to train drivers not to use the space for parking. Perhaps they could modify the design on streets where this could be an issue by adding a more defined curb that would be more difficult to drive over.
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#8
(10-08-2014, 02:26 PM)Spokes Wrote:
(10-08-2014, 01:14 PM)zanate Wrote: When this went in front of the active transportation committee, I seem to recall a staffer saying that trail users would be obligated to stop or give way at each driveway, while a bike lane like this is part of the road and the driveway user must give way instead.

This is very interesting.  Thanks for sharing.

I did actually mean to add to that sentence "but I've been unable to confirm whether that's actually true". So, take it with a grain of salt.
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#9
I believe the staffer said the opposite, and my reading of the Highway Traffic Act confirms this - a car in a driveway must yield to anyone already in "the roadway" which includes up to the property line by definition. However, the concern is not with what the law is, but with how people behave, and what kind of traffic they're looking out for.
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#10
What are your opinions on this "protected intersection" concept? If we had Dutch-style intersections , we’d ride our bikes everywhere too
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#11
Snow-clearing would be problematic but otherwise I love the safe left turns. The city of Kitchener does a good job clearing the iron horse and I think as more and more people ride year-round we'll see the city start to plow more bike paths. I'd like to see an intersection like this at King & Bridgeport.
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#12
(10-17-2014, 03:05 AM)Waterlooer Wrote: What are your opinions on this "protected intersection" concept? If we had Dutch-style intersections , we’d ride our bikes everywhere too

Looks good to me. It is an improvement over what we have now, even northbound on Erb and Caroline (which is the most bike-labelled intersection I can think of). (Of course, southbound on Erb and Caroline is terrible!)

The advanced positioning of bikes is key, I think. As someone who grew up in Montreal, I have to admit that I'm not completely used to right turn on red, and sometimes it's terrible (see again: Erb and Caroline). I think that Dutch intersections are somewhat more friendly to non-car traffic due to there being no right turns on red. But advanced positioning helps here too.

This does make left turns a bit slower than riding in traffic, since you have to go ahead and then left, but the all-phase light would help with that. I sometimes go straight through and left already when it's hard to get over into the left lane.
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#13
(10-17-2014, 03:05 AM)Waterlooer Wrote: What are your opinions on this "protected intersection" concept? If we had Dutch-style intersections , we’d ride our bikes everywhere too

I think that's exactly right.
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