Debate continues over temporary bike lanes brought to Waterloo Region during COVID-19 pandemic
KITCHENER -- The debate over temporary bike lanes installed in Waterloo Region during the COVID-19 pandemic continued at Waterloo Regional Council.
Some councillors said the program was a mistake, while others said it was successful.
There were large construction pylons along some major thoroughfare in the city this summer, marking the temporary lanes.
"I think it's been a big mistake," Coun. Geoff Lorentz said. "I think it's something people will remember for an awful long time."
"The project has been very successful," Coun. Tom Galloway said.
The pylons were set up in response to the pandemic.
"We noted that traffic volumes are still down 27 per cent total daily volumes when compared to pre-COVID volumes on those roads when the temporary bike lanes were installed, even in the third week of September," the region's Director of Transportation Steve van de Keere said.
The pilot project will end later this month.
"There was an overwhelming opposition from most of the public," Coun. Sean Strickland said.
A recent staff report showed that while the bike lanes were well-used, most people had negative reactions when responding to the region.
"I'm not thankful staff put Westmount Road on there," Lorentz said. "I wish it would've been Weber Street on the east side and then I think it would've had different results."
Other councillors said there were positives to the bike lanes.
"The role that it's played in slowing down traffic on some of our speedways," Coun. Berry Vrbanovic said.
"We've probably moved the needle in our community's understanding about the need and value of active transportation," Galloway said.
A final report on the lanes is expected at the end of the year, which will have information on whether or not they will be permanent.
The pylons will come down on Oct. 16, starting with Westmount Road.