Do you have a bike to donate to a grade 5 kid in Waterloo Region?

I’ve been volunteering for the past 2 years with a group called Cycling into the Future. I’m really excited about this organization and its mission. They take the Recycling playbook and forget about the adults who are addicted to the automobile and instead focus on our next generation of leaders. They’ve created curriculum for grade 5 students where they learn how to bike on our roads.

Anyways, this program needs more bicycles so all grade 5’s they teach can have a bicycle. I know they need at least 6 bicycles for next week’s program at Elizabeth Ziegler school and that’s just one school. If you have a dusty bike (24″ or 26″) consider giving it ‘Cycling into the Future’ so they can pass it on to a grade 5 student. Bicycles love being passed around, especially to kids.

The KW Record has a bit more info on the bike drive – link – ‘The program is looking for bikes with 24- to 26-inch wheels. They can be dropped off this Saturday, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the Stirling Avenue parking lot of the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium.’

If the Aud is too for to deliver the bike, I’ve heard you can also drop them off at the Berlin Bicycle Cafe too (Belmont Village).

(Video below is 5 minute clip of Can-Bike stuff.)




Posted in Bicycles, Safety, Waterloo Region | Leave a comment

Over a MILLION rides #WaterlooBikes

John Griffin, City of Waterloo, Cycling Coordinator (among many hats) sent out the following email :)

Yay a million rides, though not quite critical mass …. What number of counted rides would equate to critical mass in Kitchener/Waterloo?

Good morning folks!    There’s something happening in #ActiveWaterloo!       1 Million ?  Are you sure ?


I remember a meeting last fall and Graham Roe said to me “We need to build a better bicycle culture in Waterloo” he was right – and we did it together!


Waterloo officially has an Active culture folks and all of you have helped to build it. 

  • There’s lots of work left to do but the culture is here ü
  • This committee of Council in partnership with our community partners, internal/external stakeholders has helped Engineer, Encourage, Evaluate & Plan, Enforce, and Educate our community to make it a more Active community ü


Our Waterloo Advisory Committee on Active Transportation set a goal this year to hit 1 Million Active trips across our (10) counters;

As of this morning we have counted 963,429 trips;

There’s 36,571 trips to go;

We are averaging between 4,000 and 6,000 combined trips per day across our counters;

I estimate that the week of October 3rd we’ll have exceeded 1 Million trips in 1 year (2016)!

  • I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the following people and organizations for their hard work, coordination, cycling efforts, support, comments, and suggestions about how to be more Bicycle Friendly:

o  Our own Waterloo Advisory Committee on Active Transportation;

o  Christine Koehler – Acting Director Transportation Operations – City of Waterloo;

o  Christine Tettman – Parking Manager – City of Waterloo;

o  Justin Jones – Share the Road;

o  Philip Martin – Cycling into the Future;

o  Alain Franq – President of the Waterloo Cycling Club;

o  Colleen Cooper – Region of Waterloo Public Health Nurse/CAN-BIKE Power lifter  – Ret.;

o  Jeff Casello – Associate Dean – Undergraduate Studies – Faculty of Environment Associate Professor School of Planning and Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering University of Waterloo;

o  Stephanie Watson – Region of Waterloo Public Health Nurse/IMPACT Member;

o  Bill Bean – CAN-BIKE Coordinator;

o  Chris Klein & Mike Boos – TriTag;

o  Jane Snyder & Paulina Rodriguez – Community Access Bike Share

o  Danny Pimentel – City of Kitchener;

o  Matthew Sweet – City of Cambridge;

o  Bob Henderson – Region of Waterloo;

o  Geoffrey Keyworth – Region of Waterloo;

o  Al McLeod – Region of Waterloo;

o  Sean Wraight – Province of Ontario;

o  Kevan Marshall – Region of Waterloo;

o  Julie Belanger – Region of Waterloo;


I expect that this usage (these 1 Million trips) will be a significant contribution for our next Share the Road application


Congratulations folks!


Looking for the latest information about ROAD CLOSURES, VEHICLE AND PEDESTRIAN DETOURS ?   

–          Along the ION LRT route, click on this link:

–          Other road closures and pedestrian detours, click on this link:


John Griffin, CLD, OALA (Associate)

Associate Landscape Architect, Project Manager

Active Transportation & LRT Integration

Engineering Services I Integrated Planning and Public Works I City of Waterloo

Waterloo City Centre

100 Regina Street South

PO Box 337, Station Waterloo

Waterloo ON N2J 4A8


P: 1.519.747.6069

C: 1.519.497.9337

F: 1.519.747.8523

TTY: 1.866.786.3941


Posted in Bicycles, Community, Critical Mass, Waterloo, Waterloo Region | Tagged | Leave a comment

Wrapping up the university-proof bike

When I started at the University of Waterloo five years ago, I bought a cheap Supercycle Tempo to use for daily commuting, given that I didn’t want to leave my expensive bicycle parked on campus all day.  I have extensively modified it over the years, aiming to create the perfect university bicycle.  I have now finished my studies, so here is a look back on the life of my primary vehicle over the last five years.


The final product.  Latest changes include new handlebars, front basket, and a replaced front fender


As my primary vehicle, this bike has endured all that Canadian weather has to offer, from scorching summers to icy blizzards.  And a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that the has bike covered over 2,500km in commuting alone – not even including other trips such as grocery shopping, visiting friends or exploring the city.  After all my modifications, it has become a practical machine, routinely carrying upwards of 18 kilograms (40 lbs) of groceries.

The first goal of the bicycle was to not get stolen on campus, so I gave it a unique paint job to make it stand out.  And while many of my friends’ bicycles were indeed stolen on campus during my five-year university career, this bicycle is still in my possession – making it fundamentally a success.

One of my favourite additions was the front basket, which added a whole new level of convenience to the vehicle.  It meant that I could always conveniently carry miscellaneous items, even when I didn’t happen to have panniers or a backpack.  And if I started feeling warm while riding, I could toss a jacket or gloves in the front without needing to pull over.


There are countless uses for the front basket.

The main utility problem I have had with the bicycle is its lack of chain guard.  There is a large plastic ring around the front cog which keeps pants away from the chain, but occasionally I still find grease on the bottom of my pants.  Sure, I could tuck them in my socks before riding, but that adds up to a lot of effort given the number of short trips the bike does.  I’d rather my bike conform to me, rather than me having to adapt to it.



I bought the bike because of its irresistibly low price – $150 at 50% off ($300 normal price). But in the end, that turned out not to be a great economic decision.  Over the lifetime of the bike, I had to replace virtually every single part, either because the original was such poor quality that it was a major nuisance, or because it was so poor quality that it failed from routine use.  And as-purchased, the bicycle lacked essential items such as fenders, racks, a bell, lights and a basket.

Fortunately I had access to several free parts, otherwise the Supercycle would have turned out to be an disturbingly expensive purchase.  Here’s a quick overview of how much it might have cost if I had paid for all the changes I made.  Numbers in brackets are estimates for parts I actually got for free:

  • ($40): replace the horribly uncomfortable seat
  • $70: add front and rear lights
  • ($40): add front and rear fenders
  • ($30): add rear rack
  • $20: eliminate faulty derailleur and convert to single speed (I got a new single-speed freewheel for free)
  • $50: replace handlebar with a more ergonomic one
  • $30: replace broken bottom bracket
  • ($20): replace broken front fender
  • $50: add front basket
  • $150: replace wheels

(Prices do not include HST)

So what appeared a $150 bicycle actually turned out to cost more like $600 considering the lack of quality or standard features.  Then there are routine maintenance costs such as replacing worn brake pads and punctured inner tubes, which probably added another $50 per year, or expected purchases like panniers and winter tires which would add anywhere from $150 to $300.  That’s a lot of money to spend on a bike which has the bumpiest ride quality I’ve ever experienced.

The future: Fix or nix?

Today the bicycle sits in several pieces in my garage – I have not ridden it since moving out of my student house in Waterloo.  The rear fender is broken and there are several broken parts in the brake system.  So the question now is whether to replace those parts, or to end the constant cycle of repairs by buying a proper quality bicycle.  I’m leaning toward the latter, because as much as I’m proud of all the effort that I and others have put into the Supercycle, I’d rather a bicycle that doesn’t require all that effort in the first place.

Posted in Waterloo | 4 Comments

Gaelen Merrit’s Open Letter to Waterloo Region Record

My <Gaelen Merrit> open letter to Waterloo Region Record:

I am writing this letter in response to Paige Desmond’s article regarding the recent abolition of the “no cycling two abreast” bylaw in the Region (…/6688588-side-by-side-cycling-gets-…), and in general the majority of articles written by this newspaper on the topic.

The article does not provide an opinion/quote from a) a qualified expert on the subject or b) the opinion of someone most affected by this change – a cyclist! In fact, the only quotes are doomsday reckoning “cyclists will be dead right” and “we already have it hard enough with cyclists riding single file!” types.

You do realize the inflammatory nature of these articles do NOTHING to a) remove the completely unnecessary tension between the motorist and the cyclist that all too often results in the cyclist being “dead right”, b) educate all parties on what ACTUALLY is safest or c) encourage more people to lose their car dependency and increase the share of sustainable transportation in the region.

So here I am, providing you with some fact/evidence based content, and providing you with the opinion of a cyclist who spends more time riding regional roads on the bike than most people drive.

FACT: The highway traffic act does not prohibit two abreast cycling. The OPP has made this ruling in many jurisdictions ON THE BASIS THAT RIDING TWO ABREAST IS SAFER – for these (and many more) reasons:

a. Long single file lines cannot communicate or move as a unit to help drivers pass (think like a game of telephone).

b. Long single file lines cannot maintain a perfectly straight line and will unknowingly wave/swerve into traffic during a pass (think like a “snaking” effect).

c. Long single file lines force motorists to pass over longer distances and at higher speed.

Point c here can’t be stressed enough. It’s the law (for good safety reasons) that motorists must give at least a meter of passing space, and when they can’t give that, they have to wait until it’s safe to do so. So, on regional two lane roads this means the motorist has to at least put some of their vehicle in the oncoming lane to pass the cyclist. So, it follows then that you need to pass cyclists the same way you pass a tractor, Mennonite buggy, or a slower moving car – wait until it’s safe to move into the oncoming lane, and pass them. Why motorists don’t mind waiting behind all other vehicles but blare the horn, curse, threaten, throw objects and in some extreme cases actually physically run cyclists off the road, is in part DIRECTLY attributable to the inflammatory journalism this paper engages in.

FACT: The Waterloo Regional Police have acknowledged that they support the OPP’s interpretation of the highway traffic act, and therefore agree that groups of cyclist travelling two abreast is the safest option. They have confirmed that they will not enforce the two abreast bylaw in the region since it a) contravenes the HTA and b) it is not an evidence-based bylaw that maximizes safety for all road users.

And now, my opinion from my eyes on the ground: I am one of Ontario’s top road racing cyclists, and I commute year round by bike to/from work. Last year I rode 23 000 km outdoors, the vast majority of it on regional roads. In rain, shine, snow, day, night, whatever. I can tell you from my experience the greatest threat to my safety on the road is the entitled motorist who reads your articles(and your comments section) about this subject and interprets the cyclists riding in front of them to be a radical fringe special interest minority group fighting insidiously through political channels to obtain more than their “fair share.” They see this as a threat, and as such respond with aggression, misguided (and highly illegal) vigilantism and as such the most vulnerable road user is further victimized. I also see coworkers, friends and family all saying they want to try riding to work/getting groceries etc. but don’t because of the way they expect to be treated by motorists.

The media is a very powerful tool, and the way this paper writes about cyclists directly endangers me on the road. That one quote from Les Armstrong in the article pointed out that “drivers and cyclists need an education program for this to work.” Guess what? YOU could be a part of that education process. YOU could write about just why cyclists are fighting for this two abreast bylaw to be removed (I even gave you the answers listed above). YOU could acknowledge that a group of cyclists riding in a pace line are simply enjoying the same rights that the motorist enjoys, and that writing that “they’ll be dead right” is victim blaming at its finest, and that brand of journalism absolves the motorist of all actual personal accountability for the way they treat cyclists on the road. YOU could acknowledge that the bike in reality already owns just as much of the road as the car and the Mennonite buggy and the tractor, and the change in behavior needs to come from the less vulnerable road user or else we’re going to a) continue putting cyclists in coffins regardless of what laws we pass or abolish and b) have a hard time getting people to try sustainable transportation in the region.

Thanks for reading.

Link to the Record Article –



Posted in Bicycles, Community, Kitchener, News, Safety, Vent, Waterloo, Waterloo Region | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

King Street Culture Shock – in the midst of LRT construction

I got my first taste of the new King Street between William and Union. It’s going to be culture shock for drivers, from 4  lanes to 2 narrow ones and multiple 4 way stop signs.

Yet still zero cycling infrastructure. I’m guessing the final implementation will also have zero cycling infrastructure.

Riding the narrow lanes last night, my impression was that there’s not enough room for a cyclist to ride a meter from the curb and be passed by a car with a metre of space.

You know what that means? ‘Take the Lane’ baby.


‘Don’t design streets that make the 5% already cycling marginally safer. Build them to entice the other 95% onto a bicycle’ via Modacity

Posted in Waterloo | 5 Comments


It happens to many of us. It’s not just the monetary value that causes the hurt. Our bike no matter the style becomes part of us, we personify our ride. It shares our memories of grand adventures, and beautiful scenery and near death experiences (whether on the roads or in the hydro-cut).

Whenever we get contacted by someone who’s had their bike stolen we’ll post a picture and description of their bike, in hopes that someone might see it before it’s chopped up and sent away for parts. All bikes are special.

Hi, My bike was stolen yesterday at around noon in the Bridgeport and Devit area. Any help would be greatly appreciated. This bike is the things that gets me through tough times.


It is a bike frame <top speed 70 km/hr a cross between a motorbike and an e-mountain bike>, custom batteries, custom everything. It was a prototype. It’s 52V battery. Has alarm. Fenix headlight. dual hydraulic disks brakes. The rotors look like gold saw blades. Leather seat. Cycle Analyst V3. 26″ Tires, 44mm rear rim, 20mm front axle. Black duct tape covers the hard plastic sides, Velcro straps hold the covers on. motor controller. LED Strip turn signals. This hurts me to describe. UGH. Hope this helps! Thank You kindly for Your help!


Posted in Waterloo

Addressing Region’s concerns about off-street bicycle lanes on University Avenue

The Region of Waterloo is reconstructing University Avenue between Erb Street and Keats Way, and rather than building off-street bicycle paths that would be accessible to people of all ages and cycling ability, staff are recommending on-street painted bicycle lanes.  Let’s take a look at the reasoning behind this decision.

In my first post about this project, I responded to the rationale given in the public consultation materials to dismiss “cycle tracks”: that they are expensive and difficult to maintain in winter.  In short, while these are both true about the version of cycle track they considered (immediately adjacent to the roadway), neither applies to a bicycle path that is on the boulevard away from the roadway – an option they do not seem to have examined.

Then when the project came before Planning and Works Committee, the position was:

A cycle track was also considered is not recommended for this location because University Ave. both north and south of the project currently has on road bike lanes and it makes the most sense for this portion of University Ave to maintain an on-road bike lane for continuity with the adjoining sections.

When I went to the committee meeting and questioned this rationale, Commissioner Thomas Schmidt clarified that moving the bicycle lane off the main roadbed for this short segment was undesirable because it would create conflicts and complicate intersection design.

I expect that the underlying assumption here is that the same type of facility be used for the entire segment, both at intersections and mid-block.

Given the long distances between conflict points (intersections and driveways), this is an unnecessary constraint on decision-making.  The typical explanation for maintaining consistency is for the visibility of cyclists by motorists.  But with cars travelling upwards of 60 km/h and cyclists travelling around 20 km/h, a motorist who sees a cyclist mid-block would be long gone by the time the cyclist arrives at the intersection.

As a result, we can consider the mid-block and intersection designs independently from each other, and simply switch facility type shortly in advance of the intersection if necessary.

Protected mid-block, on-street intersection

Protected mid-block, on-street intersection

On-street mid-block, protected intersection.

On-street mid-block, protected intersection.

From the perspective of mid-block design along University Avenue, I don’t see any way  new conflicts would be created by moving the bicycle path from one side of the curb to the other.  In doing so, the bicycle path does not cross paths with any other road user.

So Regional staff’s concern about separate cycling infrastructure must be entirely based on intersection design.

As Commissioner Schmidt said, separate bicycle paths do indeed complicate intersection design. Since bicycles travel several times faster than pedestrians, bicycle path crossings should be designed to accommodate this rather than simply using a repainted version of the standard crosswalk design.

But this extra effort in design pays off with a result that is safer than could be achieved with on-street bicycle lanes.  For this reason in the Netherlands, intersections are often built with separate bicycle paths even when streets leading up to them have on-street bicycle lanes or even no bicycle lanes at all.

Over on The Ontario Traffic Man, check out the detailed explanation of one way we could safely incorporate separate bicycle lanes into the Keats Way & University Avenue intersection.

Potential protected intersection design design (From

Potential protected intersection design design (From Ontario Traffic Man)


Posted in Waterloo | 6 Comments