While knocking on doors, several residents have inquired about the potential for better cycling options in the city. “I live just a couple of kilometres from work and would like to ride my bike sometimes,” said one resident. Another recalled “I used to bike a lot but not any more.” Both felt it was unsafe to ride their bike on city streets. These citizens fall into the “interested, but concerned” group of cyclists. They want to ride but the lack of quality and plentiful cycling infrastructure inhibits their choice.
Last evening, I held a discussion based on the book Building the Cycling City by Melissa and Chris Bruntlett. We had an enjoyable discussion at Open Sesame over refreshments; the bookmobike joined us as well. Everyone who attended currently cycles to varying degrees.
The prominent topic of the evening was bike transportation. Although some cycle purely for sport or leisure, there are many residents who use their bike for transportation. The book addressed this issue in a chapter titled “Transport, not sport”. Of course, both recreation and transportation are legitimate uses for bikes. However, different infrastructure needs to be in place for these different uses.
The group also identified several impediments to cycling in the city. Having secure storage for bikes is extremely important. Everyone who attended had at least one bike stolen and stated how discouraging, frustrating, and costly that experience is. On the same note, everyone lauded Kitchener’s Bike Check program that provides secured parking at many Kitchener events.
Other practical issues were noted by attendees:
There were also some great suggestions and comments on practical ways to build the cycling city:
Urban activist Jane Jacobs quipped that “the point of cities is multiplicity of choice.” I believe that statement applies to many areas of city-building including transportation options. There will be people who never choose to cycle. There will be those who will cycle whether there is quality infrastructure provided or not. It is the people in the middle, that “interested, but concerned” group that will most benefit from better cycling options. And the book notes that “cycle-friendly street improvements can be win-win scenarios for all modes of transportation.” As councillor I would support street design that works well for users of all transportation types.
Also, please join me and other residents of ward 9 this Saturday Aug 25th at 10am at Cherry Park for a City of Kitchener Workshop on Wheels. More info here.
The issue of low voter turnout is often raised during election campaigns. This is very common during federal elections where voter turnout has hovered around 60% for over a decade.
However, there is much less attention paid to low voter turnout in municipal elections, which hovers around only 25%! Too few citizens exercise their right to vote in elections that affect many aspects of citizens’ daily lives. Though local issues can seem mundane compared to national and international issues, they affect our homes and neighbourhoods and shape our regular routines in many ways. So it’s important that more citizens voice their choice for the representatives who will make critical local decisions over the next four years.
What can be done to get more people to the polls on October 22? It’s certainly a complicated issue with no simple solution. However, we can start by getting informed about where and when to vote. I’ve posted much of this general information on my website under “Voting”.
You can also find out your specific voting information. Go to voterlookup.ca and enter some basic information to ensure you are registered for this fall’s election. Doing this soon means you will receive a voter card in the mail with your exact election day voting location. Simply being informed about how to vote encourages people to cast their ballot.
Citizen engagement is a key part of my election platform. I hope engagement continues between elections, but getting out and having your say on election day is a key step. And there’s reason to be optimistic we can improve voter turnout: the rate increased significantly in both the last federal election and the recent provincial election. Let’s work to see that trend continue in this fall’s municipal election.
Find out about voting, make a plan to do so, and encourage friends, family and neighbours to get out and vote this fall.
It’s always a delight to discover something new in your neighbourhood, something up until now you didn’t know existed. Recently I experienced exactly that while walking along King Street East to the market on Saturday morning. I happened to look to my right to discover a little walkway I had never seen before. The rectangular stepping stones invited me further into the space to explore. The area includes trees, plants, flowers, and large rocks that look perfect for sitting on.
Even though this area sits next to busy King St and beside a city parking lot, it felt like a small oasis in the busyness of the downtown core. Renowned urban activist Jane Jacobs encouraged readers to, “please look closely at real cities. While you are looking, you might as well also listen, linger and think about what you see.” Creating and maintaining spaces such as these promote a welcoming environment that encourages people to wander, explore, and better know their neighbourhoods and city.
What’s your favourite hidden walkway or path in your neighbourhood?