Introducing the Bikeway Report Card

I am planning to start reviewing bicycle routes, which got me thinking – what makes a good bicycle route?

So after a bit of brainstorming, I came up with a series of categories that could be applied to any bicycle route to come up with an overall rating.  I calibrated the weightings on some routes I know such that the overall score generated is consistent with the overall score I would have given it.

So without further ado, the grading scheme:

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Frustrated citizen takes bicycle path clearance into own hands

When I moved to Waterloo, I was initially impressed by the winter path maintenance – the fact that there was any at all.    In the part of Toronto I lived in, the city made no effort to keep any paths clear.  But this year, snow clearance of the Laurel Trail has been so poor that the path is basically unusable.

During my commute last Tuesday, the state of the path was so poor that I was really pushing my limits in terms of bike control and physical exertion.  On top of that, the ride was so bumpy that my bike’s chain jammed three times within the 300 metres I travelled along the trail.

The fact that the worst part of my commute is along a bicycle path says something about the state of the cycling network in winter. When the only way to travel by bicycle is to share space with fast-moving cars, few people will travel by bicycle.  It doesn’t matter if it’s twenty degrees below freezing or twenty degrees above.

So I decided to take things into my own hands, and shovel the path myself from Seagram to University.

The Laurel Trail after I cleared it
The Laurel Trail after I cleared it

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What would a 40 km/h limit mean for Ontario?

On January 28, pretty much all the major news sources in Ontario reported that the Government of Ontario is considering a couple options to facilitate the widespread introduction of lower speed limits in urban areas:

  1. Changing the default urban speed limit from 50 km/h to 40 km/h, either on a province-wide or municipal basis, or
  2. Introducing the concept of a “speed limit zone” where speed limits are assigned to areas within a city, rather than each individual street.

Because none of the articles really explain the significance of these options, I feel the need to explain these concepts myself.

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Notes from Europe: Parking in the Bike Lane

Last year, I posed the question of how to address the issue of vehicles parking in bicycle lanes.  I thought that perhaps my trip to the world’s leading cycling countries would provide me with some insight on the matter. But looking through my pictures after getting back to Canada, I realized that almost every picture I took of an on-street bicycle lane suggested problems with parked vehicles. Here is the new town centre of Houten Zuid, where I was taking a picture of the new train station, Houten Castellum: In the next picture, I was showing the very simple way in which traffic … Continue reading Notes from Europe: Parking in the Bike Lane

Notes from Europe: Cycling in the Suburbs

This summer I spent three weeks in Europe, experiencing two of the world’s most bicycle-friendly regions: the Randstad Region in the Netherlands, and the Øresund Region in Denmark and Sweden. Northern European urban regions, of course, have a very different structure to Canadian ones. But outside of the ancient centres, there are more similarities than you’d expect. Over the next few weeks I will be covering some of the more surprising commonalities between Waterloo Region and the world’s leading cycling nations. Suburban Cycling in Europe When people visit the Øresund or Randstad regions, they tend to stay in the city … Continue reading Notes from Europe: Cycling in the Suburbs

Event: Uptown bike lanes – Take 2

At the last Public Information Centre for the Uptown Streetscape Improvement Project along King Street, City staff received comments on their proposed design, including that the bicycle lanes were too narrow and unsafe-looking.

Now they’ve adjusted the proposed design and are holding another Public Information Centre:

Thursday May 29
Drop in any time 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Location: Waterloo City Hall atrium, 100 Regina Drive, Waterloo

Hope to see you there!


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