Ontario’s $25M for Cycling Infrastructure

A drop in the bucket or a step in the right direction?

Today at Share the Road’s Ontario Bike Summit, our Liberal Minister of Transportation announced $25m for bicycle infrastructure improvements for municipalities over 3 years. At first glance it seems good, but when I started to think about it I couldn’t help but be cynical. For sure it’s a step in the right direction but it’s also a drop in the bucket, a very empty bucket to citizens (voters) who are apparently hungry for cycling infrastructure.

[This announcement kind of over shadowed Share the Road's silver award handed to the City of Kitchener for all their cycling improvements and initiatives. Yay Kitchener!]

Infinitely bigger than zero

The announcement came along side another one for $29B in infrastructure improvements for cars and trucks.  So us cyclists get 0.009% of the transportation improvement pie, which by the way is infinitely bigger than zero.

Then I remembered like every trip by bicycle between Ontario towns and cities is a life risking journey, not to mention the TransCanada across the top of Ontario which cyclists reference as the worst stretch in Canada. $25M isn’t going to get us very far. In Vancouver it got as far as 55km of cycle tracks, and that was $25M over 2 years.

Now @Glen4Ont did mention that all road and bridge improvements would take cyclists into consideration, which could indeed save lives.

Cause for celebration?

Maybe we could celebrate and pat ourselves on the back if this was the first budget of governments term, but this liberal government is hanging on by a thread. Odds are this budget will be rejected sending us Ontarians to the polls. Where will this promise leave us cyclists then? Do you get my cynicism?

I also sense cycling could be a wedge issue in the up coming election. This Ontario Bike Summit has a lot of liberals with microphones. That may be an unfair criticism given all the great work Eleanor McMahon, a liberal candidate for Burlington, has done for Ontario cycling. But if the liberals are defeated what’s going to happen to all of Eleanor’s work on provincial cycling strategies. Will they continue to resonate with an NDP or Conservative government? Has Share the Road risked allowing cycling to become a partisan issue?

Positives?

There are still lots of positives from today’s announcement:

  • If provincial transportation infrastructure improvements mandate incorporating cycling into their design, lives will be saved.
  • Ontario politicians are talking about solutions to the poor state of cycling, both strategy and infrastructure in the province of Ontario.
  • No one talked about mandatory helmet laws.

Any other positives?

Posted in Bicycles, Community, Commuting, Kitchener, News | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

King Street Redesign Update – April 2014

Remember that petition for protected bicycle lanes? Well it hasn’t been forgotten … yet :)

I attended the Waterloo Advisory Committee for Active Transportation meeting last week and received a very encouraging update from city staff.

Waterloo has indeed proposed protected bicycle lanes to the Region and is waiting for Regional approval of the plans before presenting to for another public consultation or to City and Regional councils for approval. The region has asked for a number of refinements to ensure the protected lane’s re-integration into traffic across the various intersections are safe. It’s something that hasn’t been done in the Region and they are nervous about taking on additional liability.

I’d say that makes sense, but the crazy liability that is our existing King Street seems far worse. I’m eager to find out if protected bicycle lanes makes it to council for a vote!

Thanks for the support, the petition is 3 votes from 1000 as of April 17 2014.

[Update April 17 2014 - Apparently the redesign team is coming back for another round of public consultation around the end of May 2014 with protected bicycle lanes as an option. There's still concern that the 22 meters they have to work with does not provide room for street parking, sidewalks (which we all want widened) and protected bicycle lanes.]

KingErb_4NE

Narayan Donaldson (WaterlooBikes) demonstrates cycle tracks are possible on King St. Click thru for details on the design.

Posted in Bicycles, Community, Commuting, News, Waterloo | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Lights of Life takes home $200 from KWAwesome Pitch Night

Brendan did great work for Lights of Life, bringing home $200 from the last KWAwesome Foundation pitch night (March 25th at Little Bean). I’m looking forward to hearing how we can get involved in the next steps.

Saving Lives

Brendan explained that Lights of Life is all about saving lives by putting lights on bicycles. Four hundred lights can be purchased for $1000. The bike lights are given away by mounting them on people’s bicycles who need lights and want to be seen. The $200 will go towards a batch of lights as we seek more sponsors!

As a cyclists I cringe whenever I see someone riding without lights.

KWAWESOME – thrilled to be a spectator

I was thrilled to be a spectator on the evening and the KWAwesome foundation had their work cut out for them as there were 10-11 passionate pitches for a wide variety of interesting projects.

The KWAwesome foundation meets every two months for a pitch night where they give a $1000 cash to a worthy project. Each trustee shows up with $100 cash, since there are 12 trustees, when they all show up they’ve got $200 extra for a people’s choice award. Its a great way to get community building ideas off the ground, or get the funding to complete it.

It was an inspiring evening hearing from passionate people on a wide variety of community ideas.

The winner of the $1000 was for City Canvas Outdoor Mural sponsoured by Welcome Home for the walls of the alley just off of King Street between Morning Glory Cafe and Recycle Cycles. They had a mockup painting and it will be beautiful. The $1000 was well deserved. It will go towards the supplies that will be needed. The total cost of the project was around $14k.

Other Pitches:

  • Spark It – Create a video to promote local performers for their web platform connecting event planners with performers.
  • KW Procession of Species – Earth Day festivities, workshops and a parade. Need funding to pay artists, police escorts. Local organizers connected with the Button Factory.
  • Community Access Bike Share – Adrian was on hand to propose the $1000 would go towards a stipend for a summer intern to support communication initiatives associated with the bike share.
  • Summer Light Festival – Funding for a KW summer nuit blanche festival June 21.
  • Sheet Graphz – Create a workshop space to help parents of kids with DDD (Development Delayed Disorder).
  • Epyc – Venue rental for a youth oriented social startup camp.
  • KW Studio Commons – Equipment to create a studio where people can share their stories – podcasts for your story.

It was also cool to meet the first person awarded $1000, the unknown gardner (fabulous story in the record).

Posted in Bicycles, Community, Kitchener, Safety, Waterloo | Tagged , | Leave a comment

City of Waterloo offering CAN-BIKE 2 course – spots available

I just signed up for the City of Waterloo sponsored CAN-Bike 2 course that starts April 24th. It’s 18 hours of utilitarian (commuter, recreational) cycling instruction. Sources indicate it’ll turn a nervous side-walk cyclist into a confident commuter (check out Bill Beans recent post).

[update April 3 2014 5pm - 2 spots left in the course]

At first glance it seems like a lot of time (and money) just to ride on the road where I feel confident to begin with. So why did I sign up:

  • It’s a pre-requisite course for CAN-Bike‘s instructor course / certification which I’d like to get. I’ve got a few marbles rolling around along the lines of youth cycling education programs.
  • I’m curious what they’re teaching nervous cyclists to help them gain confidence. (Personally protected bike lanes would go a long way to solving these types of issues.)
  • I can always learn more!

Sorry for the cheesy pic!

Posted in Bicycles, Community, News, Safety, Waterloo | Tagged | 1 Comment

My Goals For Cycling this Season

Gorgeous View!

My Fall/Winter biking season didn’t go over so well. Shortly after my last excited blog post, I got sick, and ran into a few complications. While I could have biked sometimes, I just wasn’t feeling so well the rest of the time. Luckily, I’ve made it through surgery and am ready to get back on my bicycle!

I will say that I am afraid of biking during the winter. Not just during the winter, but at night in the winter. A lot of my normal commuting bike trails seem un-rideable and I’m faced with using busier roads, which means the chance of me having an accident is much higher. I don’t just think about a car hitting me, but the bike slipping from under me. This isn’t something I’m quite ready to face yet – so as the spring begins (Yes I DARE say this) – I’m excited to get back into the motion of riding my bike to work really soon.

What my goal is from April to November is to Bike at least 3 times a week, to and from work. I want to say every day, but I feel like that is an unfair commitment for me right now.

I am very lucky to be working where I work. The building that I work in is very accommodating, we have nice shower facilities, day use lockers – and over all I find myself enjoying these riches! The ability to bike hard to work, build up a sweat and have a descent workout is amazing and exciting.

So, 2014 – 3 times a week biking! To top this off, I want to Blog once per week. Whether it’s different bike rides, a small (or large) rant, or one of the rides I’ve been planning on doing for the past while. Perhaps a few trail reviews for this spring/summer as well!

I took a random trip with my brother before Christmas. We ended up driving through a snowstorm the entire time – but it was absolutely worth it! It was Letchworth State Park, New York, roughly a 3 hour drive from Kitchener/Waterloo. We plan on returning here this summer with our bikes. We’re super excited to check the place out on 2 wheels, hopefully it will be easier than trekking through 2-3 feet of snow. I thought I would share some photos of this adventure!

Look out over the river

Looking out over more rver

Feel free to have a look at more photos from this trip!
Click Here

- Until Next time, JJ Losier

Posted in Bicycles, Commuting, Waterloo | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lights of Life at KWAwesome Foundation Pitch Night

Hi everyone,

The Lights of Life campaign is kicking off with a pitch night for the KWAwesome Foundation happening at Little Bean Coffee Bar in Kitchener on Tuesday, March 25th at 7pm. If you are interested in coming to cheer us on, please book yourself to come and join us!  We are pitching to win $1000 to help us start up the lights of life campaign and purchase the lights to give out to the masses.

I am looking for someone to bring a bike with them. The plan is to show the difference between a properly lit bike and a bike with no lights on. Simple but hopefully effective. So come on out if you believe in this cause and would like to support this! Thanks!

See you there!

Posted in Waterloo | 2 Comments

Public Bike Stand and tools – Waterloo Parkade

If Chris from Light and Wheels hadn’t highlighted Waterloo’s public bike repair stand and tools I probably still wouldn’t have noticed as I rarely (if ever) venture into Uptown’s parking garage.

Sure enough, right by the parkade’s bicycle parking a white bicycle repair stand, some tools secured by wire cable and a quality air pump.

2014-01-10 13.11.47

2014-01-10 13.12.28 2014-01-10 13.11.55

 

 

Posted in Bicycles, Community, Commuting, Waterloo | Tagged , , | 3 Comments