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Bike summit celebrates cycling infrastructure and what can improve


The 15th annual Ontario Bike Summit is happening in the City of Waterloo this week.

The three day event, hosted by the provincial cycling advocacy organization Share the Road Cycling Coalition, aims to celebrate communities that have built up their cycling infrastructure and discuss what improvements are still needed.

The Region of Waterloo, experts say, has raced ahead in terms of cycling infrastructure.

"Waterloo is actually a gold level community. They're actually one of the ones that have done quite a bit for cycling in Ontario," Michael Stewart, the community relations consultant for CAA South Central Ontario, told CTV News on Wednesday. "In my opinion, one of the leaders in the province for cycling infrastructure and really encouraging cycling, there's a lot of impressive trails in this region.”

In an email to CTV News, Region of Waterloo Chair Karen Redman said: "Cycling amenities for all ages and abilities along our roads is becoming the norm, rather than the exception. We now have more than 275 km of bike lanes and multi-use trails. Every roadway project, new design or reconstruction considers the inclusion of cycling and pedestrian facilities. The design of the new Transit Hub at King and Victoria will have safe and attractive connections from multiple directions, and we are upgrading intersection designs by adding cross-rides and traffic signals dedicated to cyclists."

Despite many promising projects, Stewart said there’s always room to improve.

“[By] making sure that if we've built a trail here, if people aren't using it or if there are still any incidents, making sure you're reviewing that and finding areas where you can improve," he explained.

"We can have some more separated infrastructure,” added Andrea Bidgood, the vice-chair of the Guelph Coalition for Active Transportation. “There's definitely some too close for comfort with some semis.”

On Wednesday she cycled from Guelph to Waterloo and plans on doing it for the remaining two days of the event. The ride from the Royal City to the Region, she explained, is straightforward enough.

"Not too bad. Surprisingly, Speedvale within Guelph was the scariest part for me,” Bidgood said, adding that the trip back to Guelph took about an hour, but became much easier the closer she got to her destination. "I immediately saw the difference as soon as I came in through Kitchener and Waterloo. Definitely, with the separated cycling tracks there. Super easy to find my way with just Google Maps. Only just a little bit was iffy within the downtown area."

Andrea Bidgood packing up her bicycle at the Ontario Bike Summit in Waterloo, Ont. on April 3, 2024. (Colton Wiens/CTV Kitchener)

The Share the Road Cycling Coalition is trying to improve that infrastructure in all communities across Ontario, no matter their size. They currently have a Bicycle Friendly Communities (BFC) Award Program that helps communities evaluate if their neighbourhoods are cyclist-friendly. They’re hoping more communities around the province will create or expand cycling infrastructure to better connect and improve the network across the province.

Bidgood advises new cyclists to plan their trips ahead of time.

"I'm a very experienced cyclist. I've been car-free my entire adult life, so I'm comfortable. But maybe an everyday cyclist might not be," she suggests. "For longer trips like [Guelph to Waterloo]? Definitely find a buddy. It definitely helps if someone knows their way. Also, biking in groups helps the confidence a lot."

Bidgood adds patience from all road users is key to everyone’s safety.

"I know I'm in the way. I know it feels like I'm in the way, but honestly, deep breath, you'll be around me in a second."

"We all need to share the road safely, whether we're a pedestrian, cyclist or driver," Stewart said. "We know almost half of our members do bike. About a quarter of them are biking once a month or more often. We want to make sure that the roads are safe for them.” Top Stories

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