A new amendment to a planned bike lane in Kitchener has riled up members of the cycling community.
Earlier in August, Kitchener City Council had approved of new contraflow bike lanes along the one-way section on Young Street. The road would receive new sharrows and signage to encourage its use and offer a convenient route into the downtown core.
Later at the August 26 meeting, council received a delegation who raised concerns over parking in the area. Thus a new route was proposed and would now veer around Hibner Park and save the city seven parking spots.
The amended motion was passed. All but three councillors voted in favour: Ward 2 Councillor Dave Schneider, Ward 5 Councillor Kelly Galloway-Sealock, and Ward 10 Councillor Sarah Marsh.
The bike lanes run through Councillor Marsh's ward and she says the "decision was made in haste." That they should have gone back to consulting and "find a solution where we might of been able to keep the bike lane and maintain additional parking."
Members of the cycling community have taken to social media to vent their frustrations, angry to have been passed over in favour of cars.
Councilors @Ward4Councillor @jgaz3 and @Scott__Davey should all be ashamed of themselves. #voteThemOut— People Protected Waterloo Region (@PeopleWr) September 2, 2019
Thank you for @gallowaykelly @Marsh_Ward10 and @DaveSchniderKW for attempting to right this wrong. https://t.co/Ejmwkr4JXI
Marsh says she's been hearing a lot from the cycling community and that "people are upset about the change." She says she is disappointed that they will not be able to consult with them and what they want.
"Members of the community and myself were blindsided by the change in direction and so they didn't have a chance to have members of the cycling community or members of our own cycling and trails advisory committee to come forward and argue the other side."
She admits "it's not a very drastic change" and that it should not cost anything extra with the new route change. Cyclists will still get their bike lanes, but she says she has safety concerns now that it's no longer a direct route. Marsh says that "staff has speculated that some people will choose to take the more direct route," which could put them in harm's way.
"That's the problem, it's that we want to find safe direct routes for cyclist to get from A to B and that will encourage us have more commuters opting to use their bikes instead of a car."
However, parking is still a concern that Marsh has in her ward.
"We have two new developments that are coming in that neighbourhood very, very close that site and the have reduced parking for their residents and visitors, so yes there will be pressure."
For now, the bike lanes on Young will do as planned, amended to save seven parking spots.