Tag Archives: pedestrians

Vanier/Traynor Informal Pedestrian Crossing.

Here is the text of an e-mail sent to Regional Councillors concerning the Vanier/Traynor Crossing .

As part of constructing the ION system, a fence was installed along the Hydro Corridor, which has restricted previous informal pedestrian access between this neighbourhood and the properties on Fairway Road. This area is now an active part of the ION system, with trains testing along the corridor.

The Region and the City of Kitchener are continuing to work on the provision of a permanent pedestrian access point (with gates and bells) across the LRT tracks, including the identification of a suitable location. The properties on both sides of the LRT tracks are privately owned. Once a the location and property requirements have been finalized, the Region will finalize the design and start construction (funding for construction still needs to be finalized).  The City of Kitchener is responsible for acquiring the property and constructing a formal public access to the ION crossing.

The Region has retained a consultant for the design of the pedestrian crossing. This work is ongoing.  Once the design and property acquisition work is complete construction can start. The Region is also committed to applying to the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund to receive funding for the project and if this is not possible staff are reviewing alternative funding which may require Council approvals.

The City is working on completing the work to select the appropriate location for sidewalks to connect to the ION crossing and the associated land acquisition.  Region staff have agreed to assist the City should expropriation be required.  Region and City staff will coordinate timing of land acquisition and construction to ensure that there is public access to the  ION crossing when it is complete.

Given the current status of design and land acquisition it is unlikely that the pedestrian crossing will be open before ION service starts. The earliest that it could be open is likely spring 2019 (a full schedule is not complete as the design is not complete).  A preliminary design and cost estimate of the walkway and rail crossing is now being developed, which will allow us to move forward with approvals and seek funding.

We are also aware that pedestrians are crossing the LRT tracks and damaging fences in this location. As a result, the Region has placed signage in this area advising that this is an unsafe activity.

In terms of the permanent crossing, the next steps include:

  • Complete the design work and identify the budget
  • Finalize location of the crossing
  • Work with the City to complete their feasibility study
  • Request funding
  • Acquire the necessary land
  • Construct the crossing

which has restricted previous informal pedestrian access between this neighbourhood and the properties on Fairway Road. This area is now an active part of the ION system, with trains testing along the corridor.

People have asked me why there is a crossing at Old Albert in Waterloo and not at Traynor.  Frankly, I use the Albert crossing and kept after staff for a pedestrian crossing from the very beginning of LRT. Unfortunately due to the informal nature of the Traynor /Vanier crossings, no one picked up this need for a pedestrian crossing. It is not uncommon for the needs of pedestrians to be ignored as shown by the many beaten down paths along roads without sidewalks and is something that we must continue working on changing.

Transportation : Cycling and Walking, part 3 of my Fourth of Five Priorities

My Pledges: I will continue to advocate for more cycling and walking infrastructure. I will fight for better snow clearing.

Cycling

Some people think that cycling is only done by rich, middle-aged men in Spandex. In fact it is the primary transportation for many poor people who cannot afford a car and find that transit can be expensive.

When I first got on Regional Council in 2000, I became the representative on the new Regional Cycling Advisory Committee because no one else was interested. We worked on the first Cycling Master Plan, putting lines on maps where bike lanes should go. We asked for money to build a network and begged staff to include bike lanes in roads projects.

Since then, along with the new staff person who works on alternative transportation and the cyclists, I have quietly and sometimes not so quietly worked on improving cycling in Waterloo Region.

Bike racks on buses, bicycle racks by bus stops and boxes to store bicycles, bike lanes down University and many other roads, bike lanes now included in every Regional road work, route maps, bike routes on Google, the Waterloo Spur line, segregated bike lanes. It is time to point out that the councillor who championed all this at the Region is ME.

We still have a long way to go. Segregated bike lanes are just beginning. We still need to fill in the gaps on the cycling routes. Cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists need more education to work together. Snow clearing is also an issue for cyclists. Like in Scandinavia, more cyclists are riding in the winter. Bike lanes are not for dumping cleared snow.

I was so happy that the argument for segregated bike lanes for Manitou Dr. was about multi-use paths versus segregated lanes, not about whether cyclists should even be on roads.

Walking

It’s only been a few years since the Region took over the care and building of sidewalks on Regional roads from the cities. Like bike lanes, sidewalks are not on both sides of all regional roads. It is patchwork, though some are being installed with road upgrades. Snow clearing on the sidewalks and at bus stops continues to be a problem. It can be particularly difficult when a snow plow goes around a street corner and blocks off the way onto the street with a high hill of snow.

Walking across a roundabout is a problem, both for the able-bodied and the disabled. Where people nearby are disabled, the Region will, in the near future, put up a light away from the crossing right at the roundabout.

Constituents have asked why the crossings are so close to the roundabout. The answer is that pedestrians will not walk back a car length or two but will cross where it seems natural to cross.

Drivers are supposed to stop to let pedestrians cross at roundabouts. I would like to see all the small signs saying that traffic must stop for pedestrians made bigger, like those at Block Line road.

Walking is the basic form of locomotion for humans. Some use it for transportation and many use it for exercise. Why should people be stuck walking down a dirt path on the side of busy roads like Manitou?

Transportation LRT Part 1

Transportation Roads Part 2

Transportation, Transit, Part 4

 

 

Round the Roundabout at Erb and Ira Needles

Went to take pictures at the Erb and Ira Needles roundabout this morning, checking out the complaints of heavy traffic flow. Woah! It ended up being a pedestrian was a tricky problem.  Made sure to make eye contact as I crossed the crosswalks. The people coming into the roundabout were just fine, stopping for me. But the people already in the roundabout. Nope. No stopping. I ended up pointing to the tiny sign (note to staff on that one) saying yield before someone stopped.
roundabout

Roundabout Rush

The roundabout itself is very busy at rush hour, but cars didn’t have to wait very long, certainly not as long as traffic light. Staff told me that the busier the roundabout, actually the better as cars slow down and drivers pay attention. Seemed to be so. there were also times when very few cars were entering the roundabout and times when it was packed. Might be a function of traffic lights in other areas.

I also had a question from a constituent about why the new stores are right at the road rather than a parking lot separating the road from the building, as in the Canadian Tire plaza across the road. This is the new urbanization. If you are on foot, there is a sidewalk in front of the buildings and you can easily enter the stores. This morning there were two or three pedestrians crossing the roundabout. The constituent was concerned cars could crash into the stores,but there is a small lawn in front of each. It looks good to me and as a sometime pedestrian, it will be great not to negotiate the parking lot desert full of potentially moving cars.

People are concerned about the increase of traffic at the new mall at the boundary of Kitchener and Waterloo on Ira Needles.  It is important to note that there will be buses to this mall and two roundabouts to help with traffic. The widening of Ira Needles Blvd from Highview to Erb is planned for 2019. There are no plans to do anything to Thorndale, as far as staff knows.  People have expressed concern about a new big box heaven in this area when we are trying to intensify. However the people who live in the area are very excited to have shopping. Should note that this is at the very edge of the countryside line. A monument to the end of sprawl?

 The new mall will have pedestrian amenities and “prettier” parking lots within the mall area. There will be stores facing the roadway once again. There are concerns about smells from the landfill and seagulls at the restaurant patios. Staff works very hard to stop most landfill smells with pipes underground, some of which lead to a bio-gas energy facility. Seagulls? Just don’t feed them!

Built close to road

Stores built close to the road

Speech in Response to Removing Sensitive Re-charge Lands from being Part of the Countryside

My speech on Tuesday in response to Tom Galloway’s motion to not include the sensitive SW corner of Kitchener as part of the protected countryside.  The motion was defeated, 14 to 3, and so the land will remain agricultural. Tom, Mayor Zehr, and Jim Wideman voting in favour.

The following would have been removed from the motion for the final changes for the official plan

Request the Province to modify Maps 4 – Greenland Network and 6g – Other Source Water Protection Areas to designate the southwest corner of the City of Kitchener as Regional Recharge Areas as originally recommended to Regional Council on June 16, 2009
d) Request the Province to modify Map 7 – The Countryside to designate the southwest corner ofthe City of Kitchener as Protected Countryside as originally recommended to Regional Council on June 16, 2009;

Speech 

Kitchener is leaking out onto our farmland and deflating our environmental plans.

The owners of the land in the SW corner have been led on a string, first for 12 months now proposed for 5 more years, that their land might be developed.

Many developers, consultants and land owners from all over the region have come before us asking to have their piece of land put back into the urban area. They have been turned down.

Just like Kitchener  council did for the SW corner, the previous council of the City of Waterloo opposed designating the NW corner of Waterloo, another sensitive water recharge area, as part of the Environmentally Sensitive Landscapes.  The Region designated the area anyway, which I agree was the right thing to do.

Why should Kitchener be treated  differently than the rest of the region?

It is time we drew a line in the sand around the urban area.

 

The ROP report on final changes and provincial response: http://bit.ly/abjUFG

ROP passed last year without SW corner included for one year for further consultation. http://www.region.waterloo.on.ca/web/region.nsf/DocID/CA5BC18540AE6A2185257555006D0304?OpenDocument

After we also passed the transportation master plan, I thanked staff for all their hard work. I reminded council once again, that when I voted for the Light Rapid Transit, it was because I had been assured that the ROP with the firm countryside line protecting our farmland and environmentally sensitive areas and putting limits on urban sprawl; and the transportation master plan with its emphasis on more transit everywhere and more cycling and pedestrian routes would be passed. I was now satisfied that those requirements had been fulfilled. Because without those other pieces, the LRT would certainly not work as a method of intensification.

http://www.region.waterloo.on.ca/web/region.nsf/8ef02c0fded0c82a85256e590071a3ce/AB487A489BD086708525774600577521/$file/P-10-059.pdf?openelement

World O' Cars

 Next Tuesday, May 18th, councillors will be hearing the public response to the Regional Transportation Master Plan. You can come either at 9 am for Planning and Works or at 7 pm for a public meeting.

There have already been public consultation meetings. I attended the meeting at First United Church.  I talked to several constituents. Two men were enthusiastic about the master plan including bike paths and pedestrian sidewalks. They also like that there will be an Ixpress along Fischer-Hallman.

The master plan includes integrated rapid transit and bus network and strategic road improvements. Types of streets are classified with different uses. All this can go forward with or without the LRT, though it would be better with the LRT (when will we see our money???)

http://www.movingforward2031.ca  for more details on the master plan.

A couple who live in Eastbridge talked about how hard it is to bicycle to the University as the bridge over the expressway isn’t bicycle friendly. Here I’ve been talking about the problems of bridges in Cambridge and here’s an example in my own Waterloo.  World O’ Cars indeed.

Tritag came to council to talk about an innovative idea for the Lang Tannery property. Lang would give the Region money to improve the transit and Lang would not demolish the old warehouses for a parking garage. The idea was referred to staff. The fact that this would involve the city, region and Lang Tannery working together in an innovative way, leads me to believe, sadly, that nothing will happen.

http://www.tritag.ca/blog/2010/04/14/win-win-win-solution-for-the-lang-tannery/ is the post about this issue. Keep the innovation coming guys, the bureaucracy changes slowly but it is changing.

The Road Diet

Roads

I’m all for diets. Some work, some don’t.

I was at a seminar a few years ago about changing our cities to be healthier (e.g reducing obesity), less polluting and more people friendly. We were shown pictures of places around the world that are much more pedestrian friendly and I also visited some of these areas when in Portland (And also a six lane road that was not!) People in Portland and Vancouver are statistically healthier than people in Waterloo Region (Oh, we come out badly in those surveys) because of efforts made in their cities.

The City of Waterloo is going to actually narrow a road and may narrow another. It seems to go against the common sense of our car crazed society. Bearinger, which is near where I live, needs some further thought as the road was just repaved as a four lane this past fall. My neighbour, Louise McLaren, wrote a great letter to the Record in support of this “diet”,

http://news.therecord.com/Opinions/LettertotheEditor/article/667089

Davenport is another story. It is a short street between a subdivision and the Conestoga Mall with an industrial park at one end and a dead end to a nursing home at the other. It has traffic to the mall and local homes but I have never found it super busy.

It is, however, with the four lanes, difficult for pedestrians to cross. And we need to make our cities more pedestrian friendly. The new change will have two lanes, cycling lanes, a median and a pedestrian island. The traffic will slow (the wider the road, the more cars speed — watch how that works when you are driving down Northfield then into the new Westmount extension) , and alternate nonpolluting forms of transportation will grow.

Franklin Boulevard up for some pedestrian/cyclist friendly Changes

In the fall, the Regional Cycling Advisory Committee of which I am the Regional Council rep, went out and looked at Franklin Road. Franklin is a very busy road corridor in Cambridge. It will be upgraded to a four lane road (yes, I know it is already four lanes, bear with me here) with 11 roundabouts, some two lane roundabouts and some three lanes. This is between the 401 highway and Myers Road (2 lane between Champlain and Myers)

Obviously this busy road and the roundabouts are a concern for those using alternate transportation.  The committee looked at it and recommended having an mixed-use trail (3 metres) instead of sidewalks. Staff has made this their recommendation.

So pedestrians, disabled and cyclists will have a safer place to go along Franklin.  It’s a great step forward.

The downsides? Cyclists will have to dismount and cross at the roundabouts like pedestrians. Though the cars are supposed to yield for pedestrians. Bart Forwell suggested that staff look into the way cyclists are accomodated in Scandanavian countries with a separate lane at roundabouts. Staff are looking into it.

The second downside? When you get to the 401, it is almost impossible to cross to Hespeler unless you are a car. Cambridge is considering a temporary pedestrian bridge (steel span that can be moved when a permanent bridge is build by the MTO).

Adding Sidewalks Not a "Walk in the Park".

Unfortunately, a woman in a wheelchair was killed on Victoria Street in Kitchener. People are concerned that there are no sidewalks on the stretch of Victoria Street near her motel home. This is a serious problem but I do want to bring up some points about this issue.

First of all, the Region of Waterloo only took over the building of sidewalks on Regional roads a year ago. Before that it was the city responsibility. Yup, a sneaky upload of responsibility to the Region took place without the Mayor of Cambridge noticing.

The cost of building sidewalks on all the regional roads in the region would be $15 million dollars. To add this to the budget in one year would be an increase of 5% on the regional tax base, an increase of $71.15 added to the average tax bill on top of the 37 dollars of this year’s tax bill. That of course wouldn’t fly.

That being said, lack of sidewalks is a serious problem. How could we solve it?

First of all, many Regional roads are rural roads that don’t generally have sidewalks. This leaves the sections where the cities have grown out into rural areas and no sidewalks are available.

One thing the Region is now doing is adding sidewalks to new projects. This of course is the same idea as for cycling (which is a giant step forward from when I was first on council and no bike lanes were being built at all or very few on regional roads)

But I believe that we need a plan to fill in the missing sections of sidewalk just as we now have a plan to fill in the missing sections of bike lanes. The missing sections must be found and a multi-year plan put in place. A multi-year plan that may take some funds from the sacred gas tax funds is something we must look at seriously. We must have a comprehensive plan, not one that looks only at roads. Compared to 2000 when I came on council, a huge amount has been put into road repair, as it should. I voted for more money for road repairs and building roads. But when is enough  enough?

I suggest that we start with the locations where we know people in wheelchairs or other disabled like the blind live then move to other urban locations missing sidewalks.

Snowplowing is a continuing problem for clearing cycling lanes. I should point out that motorized wheelchairs are considered a vehicle and must ride on the road, so clearing major roads to the edge of the road is a must.

And drivers! Watch out for reflective vests and pedestrians and bikes when you are driving. A pedestrian was recently killed at King and Conestoga Mall while crossing the street and there are sidewalks there.

Should cars stop for pedestrians?

On my way home from the region in my car today, I had to stop on Albert St. for several university students standing in the middle of the road. The traffic was stopped while a line of summer camp kids crossed the road and headed to the park. The university students were their counsellors.

Presently in Ontario, those councillors were disobeying the Highway Traffic Act because pedestrians do not have the right of way like they do in many other jurisdictions.

But Albert St. is so busy, they would not have been able to get the kids safely across the street or across the street at all if they had to wait for traffic to clear. They could, of course, gone to the pedestrian light a little further up the road.

This was an interesting moment for me as I had just finished a conversation with one of our planners who is on a provincial committee looking into making our province safer for pedestrians. Right now pedestrains have the right of way at roundabouts only and cars must stop for them.

The provincial committee is suggesting changing the traffic act so pedestrians always have the right-of-way. So the campers would be legal.

I wonder what it would do to jaywalking by-laws? Make them redundant, I guess.  In Waterloo, I can cross the street in downtown Waterloo  in mid-block without getting a ticket but in Kitchener, I would get a ticket.

Studies of pedestrians note that they tend to move in a diagonal pattern from store to store if say they are in a mall or on a quiet street.  Does the fact that I can cross mid-block in Waterloo while dodging traffic (though many politely stop) create another reason why Waterloo’s Uptown is healthier than downtown Kitchener?

Enforcing no bikes on sidewalks reduces riders

I had a chat with one of our traffic planners who lives in Guelph.  Guelph police are inforcing the no bicycles on sidewalks by-law. The result. Less people riding bikes.

Instead of riding on the road, people are going back to cars.  Her question to me: Do I want less people riding bikes and more riding cars?

Darn. Well of course I want more people riding bikes. 

Apparently 60 percent of riders ride on sidewalks at some point. Having had  trucks blow by me, I understand that riders just feel safer.

In fact, bicyclists are no safer on the sidewalk than on the road. Why? Most collisions occur at driveways and at corners.

We next discussed whether the no bikes on sidewalks is a by-law that should be removed since it isn’t enforced.  I suspect though that it would be enforced on complaint.  I’m not prepared to remove the by-law as I worry that even more bicyclists would be on the sidewalks.

The region is presently looking at multi-use trails by the road (so cars can see cyclists at those corners, not have them pop out from nowhere) instead of sidewalks for some regional roads. Road warriors could still ride on the road and in bike lanes.

Since our planner is on a provincial committee on pedestrian safety, I pointed out that bridges going over the 401 and other highways often don’t have sidewalks or bike lanes as these are usually provincial bridges. Or should we build more pedestrian/cycling overpasses?  I like to point out that  you can cross a river with a boat but you can’t cross  a 401  or expressway when you are a pedestrian or cyclist. So how do you get across the highway?

Our planner would like trails to be 3 meters not 5 as proposed. I suggest everyone get out a meter stick and measure how wide that is. 5 meters is much wider than a traffic lane. I find from GRCA where people worry about a house 120 meters from a wet land (approx half a mile) that perhaps we don’t know the real distances with measures.