Cyclists, drivers divided over last summer’s temporary bike lanes in Waterloo
WATERLOO -- Region of Waterloo staff have released the results of a survey aimed to gather feedback about temporary bike lanes installed across the region last summer.
The results found the majority of the drivers surveyed felt inconvenienced by the temporary measures with cyclists overall feeling safer with the bike lanes.
“The cars are a little further away from you. It’s less intimidating. You just feel more secure,” said cyclist Rolf Thiessen.
The bike lanes were part of a pilot project that started last July and ran until the fall. The purpose was to promote active transportation and physical distancing for cyclists and pedestrians during the pandemic.
The lanes took up an entire lane of traffic on several streets.
“They were a little inconvenient as a driver,” said one local resident.
But some said they noticed the lanes brought out bad driving habits, with some residents claiming many were impatient by the slower traffic the bike lanes caused.
“They would go into the bike lane kind of aggressively and knock over pylons to do it,” said a resident who lives near Erb Street, one of the streets where the lanes were installed.
“On Erb Street, they were not appropriate,” said one driver.
The way the bike lanes looked wasn’t typical either. The lanes were blocked off by large construction pylons.
The cycling group CycleWR suggested a different approach and admitted the pylons weren’t ideal.
“A three-lane solution with cycle tracks in a centre turn lane would carry pretty much the same volume of traffic as we have now,” said Davie Trueman from CycleWR.
Cyclists said the temporary ones were better than no lanes, adding the more biking infrastructure, the better.
“ I think you’ll get a lot more people on bikes that way,” said Thiessen.
According to the report by regional staff, some respondents noticed vehicles drove more slowly on roads with bike lanes. This was perceived as a positive for residents but a negative for drivers.
The region's report notes because those surveyed believed the temporary measures caused both delays and increase travel time there is less inclination to support this sort of cycling infrastructure down the road.
The Region of Waterloo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
SURVEY SAYS: Breaking down the feedback
What did various stakeholders have to say in the temporary bike lane survey? Here are the responses:
WHAT CYCLISTS SAID
Bike Lane Satisfaction: 7.4/10
Why the rating? Cyclists, who mostly reported using the lanes for errands or leisure, said the temporary bike lanes kept them off sidewalks and made it easier for them to share roads with drivers.
WHAT DRIVERS SAID
Bike Lane Satisfaction: 3.5/10
Why the rating? Most drivers complained of having to drive more slowly while beside the temporary bike lanes. In fact, 61 per cent said the bike lanes added delay to their travel time, while 56 per cent said they aren't willing to increase travel time to include bike lanes on an existing roadway.
WHAT PEDESTRIANS SAID
Bike Lane Satisfaction: 5.5/10
Why the rating? Most pedestrians felt safe and comfortable walking beside the bike lanes and understood the purpose of bike lanes.
WHAT PUBLIC TRANSIT USERS SAID
Bike Lane Satisfaction: 4.3/10
Why the rating? Public transit uses reflect the highest daily use of the roadways where bike lanes were added, particularly along Westmount Road. Most transit users said they had a good understanding of the purpose of bike lanes.
WHAT RESIDENTS SAID
Bike Lane Satisfaction: 4.4/10
Why the rating? People whose houses fronted onto streets with temporary bike lanes added, most from Westmount Road and Coronation Boulevard, said the lanes caused traffic to drive more slowly in front of their homes.