At last night's council meeting, the issue of boulevard parking was raised. This refers to allowing vehicles to be parked on the paved part of the driveway between the sidewalk and the street. Current bylaws prohibit this practice in the City of Kitchener. However, after a pilot project in ward 5, it is now allowed in ward 5 each winter from Dec 1st-Mar 31st. Councillor Ioaniddis put a motion forward to allow boulevard parking during winter months throughout the city.
There was some discussion around the horseshoe on this issue. Councillor Michaud asked for a deferral however as she only received notice of the motion that day and has not had a chance to hear from her constituents on the issue. More discussion ensued and it was decided that the motion would be withdrawn and presented at Special Council on January 7th.
Several councillors mentioned that they were hearing from constituents that this is an option they would like to have. Although I don't doubt that's true, I'm not sure all sides have had a chance to speak to the issue. Personally I wonder what effect this would have on a walkable city. As a pedestrian, I am cognizant of the need to be aware of vehicles at all times. It feels like this only adds to that challenge. If we are serious about creating a city that is walkable, then we need to make that experience easy, comfortable, and pleasant. Allowing cars to park on the boulevard seems to contradict that goal.
However, I do wonder if in practice it would have much of an impact. I'm curious how many people would in fact park in the space if it were allowed. On my walk home from last night's council meeting, I didn't see any places where a car would actually fit on the apron section of the driveway. Perhaps there are fewer options for this in the downtown wards.
I am curious what you think about this proposal. Would you park your car there if it was allowed? Do you think it would impact your experience of the street as a pedestrian or cyclist? Feel free to comment with your thoughts. Also, this motion goes back to council on Jan 7th. I encourage you to reach out to your councillor to share your thoughts on this as well. In ward 9, that is Councillor Chapman who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Urbanist Jane Jacobs stated, “The point of cities is multiplicity of choice.” An inclusive, engaged and supported city provides a variety of transportation choices. Whether you cycle, use transit, walk, or drive, good urban design must include quality options for all. Recent and upcoming events in ward 9 highlight multiple modes of transportation.
Cruising on King displayed a vast array of classic cars this past Friday. People connected with each other around shared stories and memories of their favourite classic cars on parade.
The focus shifts from four wheels to two on July 27th when the Kitchener Twilight Grand Prix comes to Victoria Park. Gather with friends and neighbours to watch these exciting bike races through the Park and downtown streets!
As well, ION will operate later this year, so Grand River Transit is updating its routes and systems. They are offering several engagement opportunities this summer, entitled “New Directions.” These workshops will highlight: LRT and bus route connections; ION station features; safety and accessibility; and fare payment.
Additionally, several other events are coming up right in our ward in walking distance such as the Non-Violence Day in Victoria Park and the Schneider Creek Porch Party.
Summer in Kitchener clearly means festivals and fun. There is always plenty happening in and around ward 9. How you choose to get to each of these events may vary but an inclusive, engaged, and supported city allows all citizens, in all seasons, the ability to move around freely and safely.