Kitchener has begun the first phase of constructing new bike lanes in part for a pilot project to assess long-term use of bike lanes within the City.
The City has dedicated $430,000 for the design and construction of five-kilometre, separated bike lanes on Queen's Boulevard, Belmont Avenue and Water Street that will be open to the public in September.
The three roads in Kitchener have been selected for their connections to residential neighbourhoods, important services and other cycling routes.
Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic says that bike lanes have been identified as a priority to Kitchener residents, as successful bike lane use can be seen within other urban areas like Toronto, Hamilton and Calgary.
"People-friendly and safe transportation options are a key goal of our recently-approved strategic plan," says Vrbanovic, "and I very much look forward to seeing the results of this pilot."
Using a visual sensor, The City will record data on lane use and review its findings in a regional council meeting in September 2020, to determine if bike lanes will need to be expanded within the community.
Kitchener's Manager of Transportation Planning Aaron McCrimmon-Jones says that the sensor being used for this pilot doesn't record video, but can detect people moving down the street and determine if they're driving, riding a bike or walking.
"We've been measuring these streets for several months, so we have data about how the streets are currently being used."says McCrimmon-Jones.
"Not only will we measure the number of cyclists using bike lanes, we'll track the average travel time for vehicle traffic and how many pedestrians are walking down the street."
"When people don't feel safe cycling on the road they end up on the sidewalk," says McCrimmon-Jones, "so between fewer cyclists on the sidewalk and a large buffer between the sidewalk and cars we expect an improved pedestrian experience as well."
Ward Eight Councillor Margaret Johnston says that 70 per cent of cyclists in Waterloo Region are opting to ride on sidewalks to avoid traffic.
"I'm encouraged by the move to make Belmont Avenue and Queen's Boulevard into more complete streets," says Johnston, "with this pilot acting to calm traffic and provide a place for every mode of transportation, including pedestrians."
Details on the pilot, including what residents of those streets can expect, can be found at kitchener.ca/bikelane.