The Road to Bike Lanes is Paved with Good and Bad Intentions

Yesterday Kitchener Councillor John Gazzola said the following on twitter regarding being against bike lanes on Westmount Road:

In an effort to more fully explain my thoughts on cycling let me share my experiences. I have been cycling on Westmount Rd for the last 18-20 years. It is a very busy street with miles & miles of sidewalks on each side of it. I continue to ride on the sidewalk. No harm to pedest.

When my old dog was a puppy, we were leash training down a sidewalk. A cyclist riding on the sidewalk ran over my dog. We rushed him to the vet. He ended up OK but for his whole life, my sheltie was afraid of bicycles.

A month ago, I was standing socially distancing in a line waiting to enter a bus on University Ave. Along came a man riding his bicycle on the sidewalk. All of the people standing in line moved over. I did not. I yelled at him to get off the sidewalk. He swerved around me, swearing. Pretty clever making that rude hand sign with only one hand on the handle bars.

Whose sidewalk is it anyway? There are laws against riding on the sidewalk, but despite me asking Regional staff and police over the years, they have never been enforced.

Another person on twitter said as part of the bike lane controversy: Pedestrians don’t want cyclists on sidewalks, car drivers don’t want them on roads. I wonder if giving cyclists their own lanes would work!

If I had a nickel for every time a politician invoked the words “silent majority”, I would be rich. If I had a dime for every time a person (usually old), looked out their window and said, “that cycle lane, that bus is empty”, I would give Bill Gates a run for his money. There once weren’t sidewalks along stretches of Westmount. I’m sure home owners said, “No one walks on the sidewalks, we don’t need them.”

You may have noticed the cycling trips counter in Uptown Waterloo. It only records bikes on the cycle path. I know, I have tried to make it register me walking. Many thanks to the Waterloo Chronicle for asking for the statistics that the Region has been gathering on cycling trips in the Uptown. https://www.waterloochronicle.ca/news-story/10132369-cyclists-trail-usership-up-by-thousands-in-waterloo/

According to numbers provided by the Uptown Waterloo Cycle Tracker, located on the southeast corner of King and Erb streets, from the beginning of April through the end of July, a bicycle was detected 23,873 times. That’s up almost 5,000 trips from a year ago (17,928) during the same time period.

This is during the pandemic when there are no university students, the biggest bicycle users, in town.

I have also been told that there is apparently a bicycle shortage as more and more people buy bicycles. A friend (Thanks Suzanne) checked this out at Canadian Tire and found very few bikes for sale. People are riding bikes and they need to be able to do it safely. That is why Regional Council is putting temporary separated bike lanes on Westmount, University, and Erb.Oh yes, and Coronation Blvd in Cambridge.

The cries of pain from car drivers because narrower roads mean they have to drive slower. Yet it is common for constituents to complain that people should drive slower, say the speed limit. Cambridge, unfortunately has always had a number of very angry people. Council caved and removed the temporary lanes from Coronation boulevard before even a month was gone. This is unfortunate because the wide medium on the road that once displayed wonderful flowers and now is full of weeds could be narrowed to include separated bike lanes.

Now that we have heard from former Mayor Doug Craig that Cambridge has been once more ignored by the wicked Region that put bike lanes on Coronation Blvd, you can be sure they will stay removed.

You may not remember, but Mayor Craig said Cambridge did not want the LRT and so Cambridge got express buses for their first stage. Once Kitchener Waterloo got LRT, he and his council complained that Cambridge was once more ignored and left out. (Even though the Region has been working for several years on the Cambridge extension). Expect Cambridge to shout about their lack of bike lanes when the temporary lanes in Kitchener and Waterloo become permanent.

If I had a quarter for every time Cambridge shouted about being left out …

If you examine these photos, you can see that cars with only one person in them, seem to be a whole lot more than the same number of cyclists or pedestrians. Something to consider when driving.

6 responses to “The Road to Bike Lanes is Paved with Good and Bad Intentions

  1. Agreed that the pylons should be moved slightly so they are are on the inside of but still touching the white lane lines, on the cyclists’ side, rather than centred on the lanes lines…cars, trucks and emergency vehicles need another foot or two on the right of each lane we’re driving in..it’s too squeezed right now. This would still leave plenty of room for cycling in both directions in the outside cycling lanes and let emergency vehicles know they van move more quickly and safely in urgent situations..I am thinking of Westmount Road between Erb and William where I was driving yesterday

  2. Robin Harrington:
    Please do not get me wrong, I am totally for safety for bike’s on all roadways and totally agree with bike lanes. My concern is these pylons on the roads. When an emergency vehicle comes through there is no room for vehicles to safely pull over. That is the only concern for me as I witnessed it yesterday on Erb.

  3. From Deborah Easson:
    just saw several bikes on the sidewalk on Davenport, the street with the much heralded bike lanes. Seems new bike lanes should go beside sidewalks, not beside car

  4. From Scott Piatkowski:
    Erb and Bridgeport have always been one lane too wide. That encourages people in cars to treat them like on and off ramps for the Conestoga Parkway, and they do. If it took the installation of temporary bike lanes to finally get cars to slow down to something close to the speed limit, I wouldn’t care if the bike lanes were never used by cyclists (they are, but I’m making a point).

  5. Roads are not just for cars, they are for everyone. Sidewalks are for pedestrians, Brian. How many people do you see walking on the sidewalks? Should they be removed on Erb and Bridgeport so even more cars can race across town?The blog is by me, not John Gazzola
    So bikes and pedestrians should be squeezed together on sidewalks and trails while cars get all the rest of the road? Does not work for me. Who are roads for?

  6. From Brian Hendley:
    Councillor Gazzola: We live on the 15th floor of a condo overlooking Erb St. We can see the proposed bike lanes from King to Moore. There are never more than 4 or 5 bikes per day. The cars are backed up since this is a busy one way street leading out of town. Move over to Bridgeport Road which is a four lane one way into town. Rarely see bikes but face a hazard with all the Pylons cutting off two lanes of traffic. I’m sorry for your personal bad experiences with bikes on sidewalks but surely you’re using a hammer to kill a fly.
    oads are for everyone–pedestrians, people in wheelchairs, little kids? Surely not. We walk sidewalks all the time and seldom see bikes. On walking trails we often have to be alert for people on bikes not using their bells (if they have one). I wouldn’t ban them from the trails but would try to enforce some safety rules. Ditto for bikes on sidewalks that harass Mr. Gazzola. The answer is not to pretend that we are a warm weather area where people can go to and fro by bikes on our major busy streets.

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