Next Steps for the Uptown Streetscape Project

On Monday May 25, Waterloo city council unanimously approved the preferred option for the Uptown Streetscape between Central Street and the LRT tracks – which includes separated bicycle lanes.

Over 70 people showed up to ride King Street to city hall prior to the meeting, showing their support for the project.  It was a great event with a great variety of participants, from young to old, riding everything from racing bikes to omafietsen.  Check out Mark Jackson-Brown’s video the ride passing by, it’s an impressive sight.

Uptown streetscape ride participants gathered in front of city hall

Uptown Streetscape ride participants gathered in front of city hall

The Meeting

The council meeting was truly a demonstration of effective local government.  All participants – councilors, guest speakers and the public – were united in the goal to make the city centre a vibrant and successful urban area.  Of course not all agreed on the way to achieve this goal, but the tone was very much collaborative rather than oppositional.  It was a refreshing contrast to the state of affairs I have experienced in some other local councils in Ontario.

The primary areas of discussion were the construction phasing and the availability of parking.

The planned construction period for the project is the 2017/2018 season, which was a cause for concern.  LRT construction is occurring along King Street between Erb Street and Victoria Street  from now until 2017, and the Region is reconstructing the street between Central Street and University Avenue in 2018/2019.  That means that at least some portion of King Street would be under construction for five years straight.

My thought was that if we delayed the City’s project by a year to coincide with the Region’s project, to total amount of disruption might be reduced.  One councillor also suggested this to the to the business owners in attendance, but to my surprise, their general consensus was that construction should start and finish as soon as possible.  Well if that’s what works best for the core’s businesses, then it certainly works for me.

The issue of parking was raised by Graham Whiting, a BIA member and chair of the project’s EA taskforce.  He noted that limiting car parking to one side of the street would make for an imbalance between the businesses, and was concerned about the impact of removing some of the most convenient car parking to customers.  There was a brief discussion of repurposing the bike lanes as parking or snow storage spaces in winter, but this was strongly opposed by city staff, the traffic consultant and many councillors.

Next Steps

Now that the general design principles have been approved by city council, the project moves into the detailed design stage, where city staff and consultants can look into the details of the streetscape.  It is during this stage that we will decide whether the parking should only be on the east side of the street as in the functional plan, or perhaps alternating sides, or possibly on both sides of the street.

Several councillors identified intersection design as a key area of focus, and I entirely agree, given the potential for reduced visibility associated with protected bike lanes.  This issue is quite broad, so I’ll examine it in more detail in a future post.

A couple other issues I’d raise for the detailed design include the type of curb used to separate motorized from non-motorized traffic (vertical or angled), and the width of the bicycle paths (is it possible to overtake?).

Thanks to the support of countless engaged citizens, the City of Waterloo will be getting a main street that is safe to get to and and enjoyable to be, for everyone.  Now we just need to help the city to work out the details to make King Street the best it can be.

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Preparations for tonight’s Uptown Streetscape Vote

To be honest, I’m so excited. I never thought in my wildest dreams we’d have any chance of protected bicycle lanes on King Street in Waterloo. It’s been an amazing journey (that started with this post and also this petition)!

In addition to the amazing 1000 folks who took the time to sign the petition for protected bike lanes: three people come to mind who helped spark the change to get protected bike lanes in the recommended design, because when this was first tabled, protected bike lanes weren’t part of the conversation.

The first is Marie Snyder who blogs over at a ‘Puff of Absurdity‘, who after reading a post where we were complaining about the lack of protected bike lanes commented ‘if you made a petition, I’d sign it’. 1000 signatures later and City Planners had a new option. That’s a lot of passion for a little slice of <protected> pavement.

KingErb_4NEThe second is Narayan Donaldson, now a 4th year planning student at UW. Narayan has blogged quite a bit at and also writes on his traffic blog on issues broader than Waterloo Region. Narayan designed protected bike lanes for King Street at a time when city designers were saying there wasn’t enough room. He helped frame our critique in a language understood by professional planners.

I really can’t end without acknowledging the tireless work of Mike Boos from TriTAG who has written award winning protected bike lane content (at least I’d give him an award). Mike’s also contacted city councilors and mayors with crazy professionalism, organized events and scoured the interwebs for bike lane data. He’s really the professional advocate!

So for tonight’s council meeting, I’ve registered as a delegate and this is what I’m planning to say:


Mayor Jaworsky, and members of Council,

Thank you for the opportunity to speak tonight. I am Graham Roe, presenting on behalf of and the 1000 strong citizen led petition requesting protected bike lanes be included in the streetscape design.

I’ve lived in Waterloo since 1993, moving here to attend the University of Waterloo, since that time an important mode of transportation has been the bicycle. It’s not my only way of getting around, I walk lots, run some and have shared a car for a number of those years. I haven’t always been an engaged cyclist, nor an engaged citizen, however the last five years with WaterlooBikes have been fun and full of learning.

Waterloo quickly became home, I love it here. The quality of life is incredible, I’ve been fortunate enough that the furthest I’ve ever lived from school or work has been 10km and the vast majority under 3 km. I’ve experienced Waterloo’s growth over the last twenty years. I remember Waterloo Town Square during my University days, the change of swapping out parking spots for people space is amazing. The core, wasn’t as vibrant, wasn’t teeming with people, the change of designing for people has made an astounding impact.

The changes reflected in the recommended King Street Streetscape Improvement Project continue to enhance the human experience of Uptown Waterloo. The design includes wider sidewalks with more space for seating, trees, and other amenities, improvements to the road design to make driving better, and protected bike lanes separated from traffic by raised curbs and parked cars.

Before moving to Waterloo I lived in Holland for a couple of years and experienced this type of infrastructure first hand, every day. I was surprised to learn that those protected bike lanes didn’t always exist. After the destruction of the second world war, the nation was rebuilt around the car, the piazzas, pleins, city centres were all rebuilt around the car. It culminated in the 1970, a year in which over 400 children were killed by cars. That year citizens demanded change and city officials and planners listened and began their journey building out separated infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists and now experience a modal share that most think is possible only through gene splicing.

Here in Waterloo it’s not the story of Holland’s 1970s we’ve been embarking on making our city more friendly for a while, it’s been baby steps, a bike lane here, wider sidewalks there, a regional first complete street, a master plan that embraces active transportation. The redesign of King Street is another baby step along a path we started long ago but it’s also symbolic of who we want to be and what we want to become. These few hundred meters of streetscape improvements generated over a 1000 signatures from citizens wanting a friendlier city.

I live a stone’s throw from here, my children aged 7 and 5 go walk or bike to school every day at Elizabeth Ziegler. In a few years when my daughter starts grade 7, she’ll need to navigate across Uptown to MacGregor on Central Street, I hope after today’s vote she’ll be able to take her bicycle. I’m asking for council to vote in favour of the recommended streetscape design.

The improvements proposed for King Street in Uptown are better for every road user, the business owner, the landlord, the pedestrian, the motorist, the public transit user, and yes also the cyclist. Better for people regardless of mode.


If you’ve read this far, any comments?

See you tonight for the 5.45pm pre-vote ride up King Street.

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Joint release by and



Recommended Uptown streetscape design includes wider sidewalks and protected bike lanes on King Street from Erb to Central.

WATERLOO, ON – May 7, 2015. Residents are celebrating a staff recommendation for protected bike lanes on King Street in Uptown Waterloo. The recommended design, if approved by Waterloo City Council, would see the installation of wider sidewalks and raised bicycle lanes, some protected from traffic by parked cars, along King Street from Erb to Central.

“These are the types of lanes you find in places like the Netherlands, where riding a bike is safe and natural for anyone,” said Graham Roe of Waterloo Bikes. “For me it is personal, I want my daughter to be able to ride and walk safely to MacGregor Public School from our home in the Mary-Allen neighbourhood. The current situation is dangerous and chaotic, for every road user. The proposed changes make King Street accessible for lots more people whether you’re 8 years of age or 80.”

Uptown Protected Bike Lanes

The City of Waterloo has been considering updates to its streetscape design on King Street since 2004. In 2013, Waterloo Bikes organized a petition, calling for protected bike lanes to be installed, collecting over 1000 signatures. Since then, staff have worked to incorporate better cycling infrastructure into the recommended design, bolstered by a study by University of Waterloo researchers showing that cycling makes an important contribution to business in Uptown. It is likely that the Region of Waterloo will adopt infrastructure consistent with the City’s choice when rebuilding King Street from Central to University in 2018.

“We’re very pleased to see the progress being made towards better cycling infrastructure in our municipalities,” said Mike Boos of TriTAG. “When lanes like these are built in North American cities, there have been dramatic increases in cycling rates, often accompanied by increases in business activity when placed along downtown routes. We look forward to seeing the active transportation network continue to grow and evolve, as our cities reap the benefits of investing in transportation choices.”

TriTAG and Waterloo Bikes will be organizing a community bike ride through the proposed route on May 25, ending at the Waterloo City Council meeting where the design of the future Uptown streetscape will be decided. The groups hope members of the public and councillors will join them to help celebrate this significant milestone.

The Tri-Cities Transport Action Group (TriTAG) is a local grassroots organization advocating for better infrastructure and policy to enable people to walk, bike, or take transit in Waterloo Region. is a local cycling advocacy group striving to make life by bicycle easier in Waterloo Region.

For information:

Mike Boos, Executive Committee Member, Tri-Cities Transport Action Group 226-476-1313 ext. 804 or

Graham Roe, husband, father, cycling advocate, entrepreneur who happens to ride a bicycle to get around Waterloo Region, Co-founder  (

Visit for more resources on the Uptown Streetscape project and protected bike lanes.

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Uptown Streetscape Update – Vote going to Council May 25 2015

Just got word that on May 25th Waterloo City Council will be presented with the Environmental Study Report (ESR), recommending that Council approve the preferred option for segregated bicycle lanes, wider sidewalks etc!!

The report will be available on the City’s website the week of May 11th.

This has been a long time coming since our first post and start of our petition back in November of 2013!

If you can, mark May 25th in your calendar to show support for the proposal, a better option for all people who use King Street!



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

Why we need protected bicycle lanes

Can’t do this in a painted bicycle laneScreenshot 2015-04-24 at 14.46.36

Posted in Waterloo

Safety Recall – Trek bicycles with a front disc brakes and quick releases

Got this in my inbox this morning, luckily my Trek which has a front disc brake, doesn’t have a quick release. Back before I had email my second mountain bike was a Trek 850 Antelope, it had a quick release, but that was before disc brakes became mainstream.  That reminds me, I put this awful one piece barends / aerobars on it — horrible.

“According to the CPSC recall notice, one incident resulted in quadriplegia, one in facial injuries, and the third in a fractured wrist.” via Bicycle Retailer

Safety Recall
Trek issues voluntary nationwide consumer quick release safety notices

Thank you for your purchase of a Trek bicycle. Our records indicate that you may have purchased a bicycle equipped with disc brakes and a front quick release lever that opens past 180°.

If the quick release is improperly adjusted or left open on a bicycle which also has a front disc brake, the quick release lever can become caught in the disc brake assembly. If this happens, the front wheel could separate or come to a sudden stop and you could lose control of the bicycle.

Trek wants you to be safe. You should always correctly adjust the quick release on your bicycle before you ride. Trek’s Owner’s Manual contains detailed instructions for proper quick release installation and removal. If you do not have an Owner’s Manual, see your local Trek retailer.

Additional information on proper quick release adjustment, including videos on quick release installation and removal, is available on Trek’s website on the Manuals pageand Safety & Recalls page, and more videos demonstrating proper quick release adjustment are available on Trek’s YouTube channel. We encourage you to review these materials and to consult your local Trek retailer with any questions regarding proper use of your quick release.

This letter contains important information regarding what to do next if you have one of these bicycles.

Your safety is very important to us. Therefore, if desired, Trek will replace the front quick-release mechanism on affected bicycles, while you wait, free of charge. This includes replacement of the specially-designed quick release with washers if it has already been installed on your bicycle.

Affected models

Any Trek bicycle equipped with disc brakes and a front quick release lever that can open beyond 180º and contact the disc brake assembly is affected. If you are unsure whether your bicycle has this combination, please take it to your local Trek retailer for a free inspection.

What Trek will do for owners of an affected bicycle

If you own a bicycle that is affected by this recall and would like a replacement quick release, Trek will provide you—through your Trek retailer—a free replacement quick-release, including free installation. In addition, you will receive a $20 coupon good towards any Bontrager product redeemable through December 31, 2015 at your local authorized Trek retailer. This coupon has no cash value. If you have any questions, please contact your retailer, or call Trek at the safety and recall hotline: 800.373.4594

Thank you for buying a Trek bicycle

We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this has caused you. We value you as a customer and want you to safely enjoy cycling on your Trek bicycle.

This letter was prepared in cooperation with the Consumer Product Safety Commission. If you have questions about the information in this letter, please contact your Trek retailer.

And an excerpt from my LBS (trek dealer)

A number of model year 2000 through 2015 Trek bicycles were made with a quick-release lever that opens past 180°. If the quick release is improperly adjusted or left open, the quick release lever can become caught in the front wheel disc. If this happens, the front wheel could separate or come to a sudden stop and the rider could lose control of the bicycle.

We have determined bicycle models that could be affected and list them below. Therefore, it is important that you bring in your bike so we can  inspect your Trek bicycle that comes into your store. If the front quick release lever can open far enough to contact the disc brake assembly, you should replace the quick release.

To ensure the your safety, please look at your Trek Owner’s Manual on proper use of a quick release. The Owner’s Manual contains detailed instructions on how to properly install a quick release, and Trek’s website and YouTube channel contain additional information, including videos. Additional information, including videos on quick release installation and removal, is available on Trek’s website at and, and more videos demonstrating proper quick release adjustment are available on Trek’s YouTube channel: quick release without washers and quick release with washers.

Model Year Bike Model
2000 8000 LT, Hoo Koo E Koo, VRX 400
2002 4300 D, Tassajara D
2003 4300 D, 4900 D, 6700 D, Diesel Freeride, Liquid 30, Sugar 2+, Tassajara D
2004 4300 D, 6700 D, Attitude XV, Fuel EX 100, Liquid 55, Palamino SS, Sugar Race, Sugar Race XT, Tassajara D
2005 4300 D, 4500 D, 4500 D WSD, 6500 D, 6700 D, 6700 D WSD, Bitter, Bruiser 2, Bruiser 3, Cronus, Fuel 70, Mullet
2006 4300 D, 4900 D, 6500 D, 6500 D WSD, 6700 D, 7.5 FX D, Bitter, Cake 3 D, Cobia, Cronus, Fuel 70, Jack 2, Kaitai, Mullet, Mullet 24, Piranha, SU 200, Utopia
2007 4300 D, 6000 D, 7.3 FX D, 7.5 FX D, Bitter, Fuel EX 5, Fuel EX 5 WSD, Hifi, Jack 1, Jack 2, Jack 3, Kaitai, Mullet, Mullet SS, Piranha, SU 200, Tassajara D, Tassajara D GS, Utopia, Wahoo D
2008 3900 D, 4300 D, 6000 D, 6500 D, 6500 D WSD, 6700 D, 6700 D WSD, Advance, Advance GS, Cobia, Cronus, Fuel EX 5.5, Fuel EX 5.5 WSD, Fuel EX 6.5, Hifi, Hoo Koo E Koo, Kaitai, Marlin D, Monona, Montare, Mullet, Mullet SS, Piranha, Rig, Soho 1.0, Soho 3.0, Soho 4.0, SU 200, Tassajara D, Utopia, Wahoo D
2009 2300 D, 3900 D, 6000 D, 6000 D WSD, 6500 D, 6700 D, 6700 D WSD, 8000 D, 8000 D WSD, 69er geared, Cobia, Fuel EX 5.5, Fuel EX 5.5 WSD, Fuel EX 6.5, Fuel EX 7, Fuel EX 8, Fuel EX 8 WSD, Hifi, Hifi GS, Hoo Koo E Koo, Kaitai, Mamba, Marlin, Montare, Mullet, Paragon, Piranha, Police, Tassajara D, Utopia, Valencia, Wahoo D
2010 3900 D, 4300 D, 4500 D, 6000 D WSD, 6500 D, 6700 D, 6700 D WSD, Advance D, Cobia, Fuel EX 5, Fuel EX 5 WSD, Hifi Pro 29, Hifi+ 29, Hoo Koo E Koo, Kaitai, Mamba, Marlin D, Marlin D GS, Montare, Mullet, PDX, Piranha, Skye SL D, Tassajara D, Utopia, Valencia, Valencia+, Wahoo D, X-Caliber
2011 3700 D, 3900 D, 4300 D, 4500 D, 6000 D, 6000 D WSD, 6500 D, 6700 D, 6700 D WSD, 8000 D, 7.3 FX D, 7.3 FX D WSD, Advance D, Cobia, Elite 9.7, Fuel EX 5, Fuel EX 5 WSD, Fuel EX 6, Fuel EX 6 WSD, Fuel EX 7, Fuel EX 8, Hifi+, Mamba, Mamba 29, Mamba 29 WSD, Mamba GS, Marlin 29, Marlin, Marlin SS, Montare, PDX, Police, Sawyer, Skye SL D, Skye SLX D, Soho DLX, Transport, Transport+, Utopia, Valencia+, Wahoo D, Wahoo D WSD
2012 3500 D, 3700 D, 3900 D, 4300 D, 4500 D, 4900 D, 7.3 FX D, 7.3 FX WSD, 7.5 FX D, 8.3 DS, 8.4 DS, Cobia, Fuel EX 5, Lush, Mamba, Mamba WSD, Marlin 29, Marlin 29 WSD, Marlin SS, Neko SL, PDX, Sawyer, Skye SL D, Skye SLX D, Soho, Superfly, Superfly 100, Transport, Transport+, Valencia+, Wahoo, Wahoo D 29, X-Caliber, X-Caliber WSD
2013 3500 D, 3700 D, 3900 D, 4300 D, 4500 D, 4700 D, 4900 D, 7.2 FX D, 7.4 FX D, 8.3 DS, 8.4 DS, 8.5 DS, 8.6 DS, Cali, Cali S, Cali SL, Cobia, Fuel EX 4, Fuel EX 5, Lush, Lush 29, Mamba, Marlin, Mynx, Neko SL, Police 29, Skye SL D, Superfly Comp, Transport, Transport+, X-Caliber, Wahoo
2014 3500 D, 3700 D, 3900 D, 4300 D, 4700 D, 4900 D, 7.2 FX D, 7.4 FX D, 8.3 DS, 8.4 DS, 8.5 DS, 8.6 DS, Cali, Cali S, Cali SL, Cali SLX, Neko SL, Neko SLX D, Police 29, Skye SL D, Superfly 6, X-Caliber 4, X-Caliber 5, X-Caliber 6, X-Caliber 7, X-Caliber 8, X-Caliber 9
2015 520 D, 3500 D, 3700 D, 3900 D, 7.2 FX D, 7.4 FX D, 8.3 DS, 8.4 DS, 8.5 DS, 8.6 DS, Marlin 5, Marlin 6, Marlin 7, Neko SL, Neko SLX, Skye S D, Skye SL D, Skye SLX D, X-Caliber 6, X-Caliber 7, X-Caliber 8, X-Caliber 9
Posted in Bicycles, Injury, Safety | Tagged , , ,

Review: A perfect bicycle route in Utrecht

The bicycle route between the inner city of Utrecht, the Netherlands and its outlying university is what I consider to be a perfect bicycle route.  As far as I can tell, it doesn’t have a specific name, but it consists of a bidirectional bicycle path along the east side of Waterlinieweg, Pythagoraslaan and Archimedeslaan.  I’ll call it the Archimedeslaan path, or Archimedespad for short.

For virtual ride along the route, check out the following video by Dutch cycling blogger Mark Wagenbuur.  He starts roughly in the middle of the line on the map above and heads toward point A, which he reaches about 2 minutes in.

This bicycle path is far from exceptional in The Netherlands, I chose it simply because it’s a route I have used several times.  There are countless other routes in the Netherlands that are just as good.

Continue reading

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