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.