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City of Waterloo, Ont., ramping up bike lanes

For Winnipeg cyclists, using bike routes is about to be a lot safer with a bylaw's help.

bike-lanesA plan that originally was meant to replace streetlamps in Waterloo, Ont., has grown into a multi-million-dollar bike-lane installation along King Street.

The original plan, proposed in 2011, was to replace the streetlights along King Street to help fix a concern over pedestrian safety. To replace the streetlights the sidewalk needed to be dug up. Since the sidewalk would already be dug up, the suggestion was made to make the entire area more pedestrian-friendly, and from that grew the idea of installing bike lanes.

The plan is still in its proposal stage, and city hall is still accepting comments and concerns from locals until Nov. 27, but the idea seems to be gaining traction.

If the proposal goes through, the stretch of King Street between Central Street and Willis Way will have the four lanes of road reduced to two, and bike lanes will be installed between the new curb and a row of parking for cars. The idea behind the unconventional use of road space is that the parked cars, being between the road and dedicated bike-lane, will protect cyclists from motor vehicles.

As it stands, the project will cost an estimated $6 million, but the City of Waterloo anticipates the revamping of the downtown core will bring new investment and business to the area. They are also planning ahead for an expected influx of new, young residents to the area who will be more reliant on foot and bicycle transportation. Within 800 metres of King Street where the infrastructure development is planned there are over 2,200 new or in-development housing units.

“Walking, cycling and transit amenities are critical elements of the King Street design.These new residents will likely be younger professionals and empty nesters who tend to support nearby businesses for their daily needs,” a city report noted.

The stretch of road where the renovations have been proposed is one of the most accident-prone areas in the city, tallying 195 collisions between 2005 and 2011, although only two of those involved cyclists.