Thursday, April 26, 2012

Margaret Avenue road diet

I was tweeting away about news that the City of Kitchener is going to road diet Margaret Avenue, so the Kitchener Post ended up interviewing me about it. All they got was opinion, though. I had to wait until Wednesday night to get some fact.

The public information session was sparsely attended (maybe a dozen or so attendees?) and there weren't a lot of surprises either. In fact, it's pretty standard stuff:
  • Margaret's too wide, it drives up speeds
  • Margaret's traffic volume is fairly low (though significant for a road of its type)
  • To make the corridor safer and more usable, Margaret will be repainted to adjust lanes, provide parking and designate cycling lanes.
 And it's really nice to be able to say that's "pretty standard stuff", isn't it?

I spoke to city representatives and we pitched a few ideas back and forth. I've wanted this region to be building out more segregated cycling infrastructure, to grow the number of people on bikes from the vast population of those who are just uncomfortable in traffic. Margaret is getting plain jane cycling lanes though, on the outside of parked cars. And I will begrudgingly admit that given the low budget for the treatment, the high density of driveways and the width available, this is probably the best achievable option.

Still, they have to keep hearing interest about it. Tidbit that came up: Block Line is apparently getting some bike tracks of some sort.

Pictures below. Some last parting notes:

  • Sharrows were discussed for crossing points where the pictures show a gap in line painting. Hopefully they will be added: anything that emphasizes the presence of a cycling right of way to driveway and side street users would be beneficial.
  • Bike boxes were bounced back and forth. We saw no suitable point on this road given the lack of cycling viability of Victoria, and the low levels of traffic.
  • Road diet usually involves the removal of lanes. In this case, we have a road that is wider than it needs to be, but only in one or two small places (near intersections and especially over the bridge) are there any actual lane removals. Still, the principles stand.
And on the lighter side:
  • One of the reps wondered if I had a motorcycle, since I was carrying my new Bern bicycle helmet with me. I told him no, but it's a statement of what I think about riding in traffic. (Also, I love the style.)
  • Two elderly gentlemen were quietly grumbling next to me (and my bicycle helmet) about why the heck don't they just put in four lanes and let the traffic flow?? Those cyclists should use the back streets! Despite the fact that Margaret is a minor road and could triple its traffic level and still be well-served by 2 lanes, I bit my tongue. But it puts the generational attitude gap into depressingly sharp relief.

Please excuse the fuzziness in some of these photos. Crap cellphone camera + people in the way.

Union southward

At Guelph St. (in case you didn't realize)

Rounding the bend towards Wellington

Wellington, Breithaupt, Victoria

Traffic levels of ~6000 vehicles a day - road diet has been applied to 15-20K roads

High speed levels that we can bring down by tightening lanes.


  1. Nice write up, thanks for the recap. My wife attended but I couldn't make it due to work commitments. She sent me some BBM updates so I could ask questions without being there. Overall it's okay, it's really just a lane diet and not a true road diet though.

  2. I biked along here yesterday and there are white dots that seemingly indicate where the bike lanes are going to go. Hopefully these will be turned into lines very soon!

  3. I live on Margaret, right across from the church (see "rounding the bend..." photo). I don't know enough about these things to know what that green line I losing the front part of my lawn and driveway to this?

    1. Rob,

      Everything I've seen says that there is no structural work being done on the road, and I am quite certain that you would have been notified directly if there were. But I'm not sure what these lines are.

      Best advice I can give is to get an answer straight from the horse's mouth. Try contacting Justin Mishko, at City Hall. His name was on the letters that went out to local residents earlier this year. That letter lists an email of justin.mishko AT, and a phone number of 519-741-3400 x3203.