Is this possible in Waterloo Region?

Could we ever see this much bicycle traffic in Waterloo Region?  If we could where would it be?

21 thoughts on “Is this possible in Waterloo Region?

      1. Certainly not. But Denmark isn’t a great place to look for non-economic incentives. That 600% tax becomes a big confounding factor in any argument about what we can learn from Denmark.

  1. I don’t think so, and that’s even if we redesigned our streets to be bicycle-first. The reason is because we don’t have the density to lead to that kind of travel demand and we’re not planning to add it.

    1. But to add to this, the biggest number of cyclists I’ve seen on one corridor in Waterloo Region is on Caroline Street between William and Erb. Maybe it’s in the realm of possibility.

      1. @MichaelD – The Caroline / William to Erb corridor would be a street where I could also see an argument for continuing a segregated bike path to properly connect the Iron Horse to the Laurel trail.

        I’m all for bike lanes, but they are still not family friendly. By that I mean, I wouldn’t want my kids riding in bike lanes until they are 16/17 years old (now they are 1.5 and 3). However on a segregated path kids can learn cycling as a form of transportation at a much younger age.

      2. I agree about physically separate facilities, especially on that stretch. The Region and city keep talking about extending the Iron Horse Trail as a multi-use pathway between Erb and William, but the demand there is much higher than can be handled by a shared pathway. There should be cycle tracks, perhaps a two-way one on the west side of the road.

  2. Maybe up by University of Waterloo and Wilfred Laurier near Waterloo Park there could be short temporary cycling congestion one day.

    I used to walk from downtown Waterloo to Uof W to attend classes by walking through Waterloo Park. I can’t believe there’s now way more cyclists in the area I’m describing.

    We were in Copenhagen for 5 days last year when my partner attended the Velo-city conference 2010. I enjoyed the city instead. And wrote up my cycling experience there: (In my opening paragraph I do mention K-W!)

    One really has to experience this cycling density for real. Also to cycle from downtown Copenhagen to its airport is wonderful. A flat less than 10 km. ride one way. Through some residential areas.

    1. Thanks for sharing Jean. Loved your article on your Copenhagen visit! Did you get any comments on your bright yellow jacket? Did you see any fellow Danes wearing such attire?

  3. This kind of thing has been happening in the Netherlands for decades, but the cycling phenomenon is Copenhagen is actually relatively new. Their streets probably didn’t look at all that different from ours (or at least, Toronto’s) not all that long ago.

    Maybe if we get enough cycling going in Canada, we can pretend we invented it like the Danes seem to be doing now. ;)

    1. @PeterParker – I think you’re suggesting if you build the segregated infrastructure, cyclists will come. I’m usually not a proponent of the build it and they will come philosophy. It’s one of the arguments that bothered me about the LRT proponents. However, with cycling that appears to be the case. When cycling is easier than driving, when driving stops being subsidized, other alternatives can be championed and supported.

      1. “Build it and they will come” could otherwise be described as “planning.”

        I don’t think urban planning is the only way (or even the best way) to get people out of their cars – increasing taxes and the increasing price of oil will do more in that respect.

        But to be convinced specifically to bike, people need to feel it is a safe method of transportation. Surveys have repeatedly shown that safety is the biggest excuse people give for not cycling, though certainly no one wants to admit that they’re lazy. Eliminate that excuse and you increase the number of cyclists.

        I think Ryan (below) is right that people will give up a lot of other things before they give up driving *entirely* but I don’t think that’s necessary. It’s a hell of a long bike ride to the Pearson Airport, after all. But people can and will choose to drive less if they feel it is safe and convenient.

  4. For the entire Waterloo region I don’t see that happening. Kitchener and (especially) Cambridge are too set in their ‘car-ways’. Waterloo it *could* be possible.
    I don’t see that anywhere in Canada (with the exception of Montreal/Toronto).

    Look at the survey done last year, (
    Quote from the article:
    “Canadians are so attached to their vehicles that many say they would forgo sex, television, junk food or credit cards before giving up driving.”

  5. You forgot Vancouver, Ryan for the possiblities of Copenhagen style density of cyclists. It is like that on the Seaside-Seawall path in the summer during the day and early evening. I should know…I lived at the foot of it.

    Graham: Of course, one rarely saw a woman wearing neon hig visibility jacket in Copenhagen. I had to pack efficiently for bike touring (and taking trains occaisonally) for 1 month in Europe. We did some days where we pulled in 100 kms. per day in Europe. Honest, I don’t have a street jacket for that level of cycling without overheating…and smelling alot.

    Here’s a recent video on how the Dutch got their bike paths. Informative and reminder that even the Dutch didn’t get their bike paths,unless they advocated too:

    1. I left Vancouver out because I view most of Vancouver’s cyclists as a more sporty/activist type. (of course having said that, the Van-Bike blogs I read are anything but sporty or activists)

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the Seawall more of a recreational pathway? It’s beautiful and I’d ride along it if I lived there on a regular basis, but it couldn’t be comparable to actual city traveling/cycling as with in the video.

      I could be completely wrong about Vancouver, but it’s just the image I get when I think of cycling in Vancouver.

      1. Vancouver is in BC, which has an all-ages helmet law as I understand. That definitely discourages many non-sport cyclists, and can explain why Copenhagenize would not give Vancouver a high “Copenhagenize index”.

  6. The Seaside-Seawall path is touted as a recreational path but it is also used by commuters since after all before 9:00 am, it’s not full of recreational cyclists. One notices in terms of how the cyclists ride at that time of day, they ride with a purpose and aren’t wandering all over the place.

    The Seaside-Seawall path is 30 km. long (if you wish to ride the whole route) but there are other feeder bike paths and routes to and from the Seaside path from residential areas all along the habour (lots of condos, townhouses, et.) in False Creek, Olympic Village, etc. There are whole communities that have been there for several decades prior to Olympic Village.

    Seaside-Seawall path runs through the famed Stanley Park..but keep in mind the path is fed by separated bike lanes to and from ie. the famed Lion’s Gate Bridge which allows cyclists to travel-commute between downtown Vancouver and North Vancouver across the Burrard Inlet.

    The Seaside-Seawall path also can hook you within half a km. or less to 3 different separated bike lanes (Burrard Bridge, Dunsmuir Viaduct and Hornby). So the Seaside-Seawall bike route is only 1 of several major bike routes within a larger network of signed/separated/painted bike routes in downtown Vancouver.

    A sample article:

    I still consider Vancouver as my 2nd home –over 75% of my stuff is still there!

    Ryan: Sure there are some “sporty” cyclists….but it’s changed now in the last 5 years. Just way more ordinary dressed cyclists in Vancouver.

  7. I actually feel the over-focus on the helmet issue to rate a city is abit wrong headed and culturally a bit blind. I’m glad we’re not Europe (nothing to do with cycling, but more with still some cultural-Old World barriers that still exist there), though it has all sorts of unique, lovely cultural stuff there.

    It also doesn’t recognize that North America does have more sprawly cities because we have way more land to expand (in some areas) and therefore unfortunately more distance that makes cycling abit more intimidating especially when some North American cities have been poorly planned (for cycling). It’s reality.

    Anyway, it’s doubtful that Anderson would ever rate Vancouver high..even if Vancouver got it’s cycling mode share to 30% or more some day. It’s a gut feeling on my part….Vancouver is quite a different city (in my opinion) than Montreal in spirit, its people and its environment. It definitely is not European style.

  8. Graham, the criteria included helmet and other ‘scare tactics’.

    —“Perception of Safety:
    Is the perception of safety of the cyclists in the city, reflected in helmet-wearing rates, positive or are cyclists riding scared due to helmet promotion and scare campaigns?
    Rated from mandatory helmet laws with constant promotion of helmets to low helmet-usage rate.”—

    Perception of safety, just based on helmet promotion/law/fear, that would give Vancouver a 0 in that category, and could be enough to keep them off the list.

    This guy on Flickr has posted many pictures just to point out these scofflaws ( aka non-helmeted cyclists.

    Then there is the fear mongering group (Prohab) whose goal is to get as many helmets on peoples head in Vancouver:

    Unfortunately many non-cyclists in Vancouver have been brainwashed into believing your either reckless or a scofflaw for not wearing a helmet while cycling.
    That could be a knock against Vancouver in either the perception of safety OR culture category.

    I will agree Jean that the sporty image has changed somewhat. When I was looking at moving to BC not even a year ago, the image was always an athletic male, $5000 road bike, helmet and brightly coloured clothing. It was near impossible to ever find someone dressed in their everyday clothes while cycling from these groups.
    I also tired of the repeated comments FROM cyclists, on bike-related stories (on CBC or Vancouver’s newspapers), calling those not in brightly coloured clothes or not wearing a helmet, “not true cyclists”.
    Fortunately the advocacy groups have changed and at least added more images of people in ordinary clothing, unfortunately I still read those comments about “not true cyclists” far too often, but in defence of Vancouver, I do read the same things from those in Ottawa.

    It is also too bad that the video for the Velo-city conference shows mostly males still, with the mayor in a ‘construction’ vest.

    As for rating a city based on the helmet issue. Well it is ONE category, but IMO an important one. If Ontario were to put in an all age helmet law, my choice is risk a fine or give up cycling all together. My city could add all the separated bike lanes they want, I’m still not going to wear a helmet.

    If culturally this works for Vancouver, then all the power to the people there. For me it’s not so much having a European style, as much as it is ‘normalizing’ cycling.
    If you have enough people saying you MUST wear a helmet or brightly coloured clothing, people won’t even bother thinking of riding a bike. They want to be able to just put on their “everyday” clothes and head out the door, without worrying about changing at the office (or having to shower there).

    As for cities that are more sprawled out? You’re correct in saying North American cities have been poorly planned. I give full marks on how Vancouver has tried (and continues) to correct the wrongs of the past with city planning.
    Toronto was heading in a more positive direction until the “‘gravy train'” was derailed and dismantled in favour of cars…yet again.

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