Thursday, May 28, 2015

Uptown Streetscape is a thing!

On Monday, I had the great pleasure of speaking to Waterloo City Council on behalf of the region's Active Transportation Advisory Committee. In our last meeting, the committee endorsed the plan presented by the project consultants and city staff to revamp Uptown Waterloo's streetscape with wider sidewalks and protected bike lanes.

I also had the pleasure of watching that plan passed unanimously.

The plan was the product of multiple consultations and strong public feedback, which I wrote about previously here and here. I also helped get the word out about protected bike lanes on twitter, on CBC radio (sadly the clip is no longer available), and in blogs. Together with the efforts of a number of passionate individuals, including the inimitable Graham Roe (whose petition garnered a thousand signatures) and tireless Mike Boos (who designed the amazing infographic) we got Waterloo informed, and engaged.

The people spoke, and the project team listened. The BIA got on board, and so did the politicians. What a journey! Considering that in 2010 I heard from one streetscape committee member about the very passionate arguments around the table about removing any traffic lanes at all, this points to a real evolution in thinking by many members of our community.

There are still a few rough edges. While Waterloo has a plan to replace lost parking (the streetscape plan will cost 22 parking spaces, but the LRT construction will affect considerably more), this plan still needs to become a reality and businesses will need to see their customers continue to reach them, whether it's by foot, bike, or car.

There is also the question of intersection design. Protected bike lanes will interact with these intersections similarly to on-street bike lanes, in that they'll be alongside traffic lanes and clearly visible at intersection approaches.

But there are other approaches we could take, including this adaptation of Dutch intersection design for Boston's Commonwealth Avenue.

Or even better, we could take a step further and implement a "protected intersection".

Just some thoughts on how to polish this plan to perfection.

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