How we can do it:
Waterloo already has an impressive walking and cycling network, thanks to strong commitments and efforts from previous Councils. I’d like to keep the momentum going in building protected bike lanes, pedestrian-friendly streets, better road-crossing infrastructure, and more.
Expanding protected bike lanes is the premier change Waterloo can make to support cycling—50–70% of Waterluvians say that they would use bikes to get around on properly protected lanes. The installation of temporary protection on some roads by the Region saw ridership increase by 57%, and much more during peak times. This takes cars off the road, making it faster and safer for everyone to get around. Better still are multi-use trails like Iron Horse Trail that completely seperate cyclists and pedestrians from the road to make a safer and more enjoyable trip for everyone—I talk more about these below.
As we look to modernize our zoning regulations (as discussed in Affordable and High-Quality Housing), we should explore permitting more mixed-use developments that allow for convenient access by residents and are essential for walkable, “15-minute” communities. Waterloo’s Official Plan calls for a small grocery store within 2km of every resident to meet this goal, but zoning use regulations currently make this difficult, if not impossible, throughout much of Waterloo.
Waterloo recently completed the Market Trail, a multi-use trail that allows residents to comfortably and safely walk, ride, and roll directly up to St. Jacobs. Multi-use trails like the Market Trail and Iron Horse Trail are great for active transit, as they feel safest for users and often provide much quicker routes than routes that follow streets. Waterloo should explore where else we can build out these trails to provide maximum value, such as an East–West Corridor or routes to local conservation areas and other popular destinations. We should also upgrade our current multi-use trails to include lighting and safer street-crossing infrastructure, as Kitchener has done.
Active transit is oftentimes relied upon most heavily by residents with disabilities, of marginalized identities, and from low-income backgrounds. Waterloo needs to be cognizant of this when designing active transit systems to be robust and dependable to help residents get to work, school, and community spaces. Waterloo should consider options to ensure the accessibility of the network, such as municipal snow clearing to ensure access for those with physical disabilities year-round.
Waterloo should also look to strategies that other municipalities have used to address bike theft, particularly in Ward 6, which could include voluntary registration programs, bike share programs, better locking infrastructure, and other measures.