Kitchener putting in protected bike lanes

By Blair Adams

Cycling advocates are geared up about the City of Kitchener's 2019 budget.

The budget, passed Thursday night, includes around $2 million for items including five kilometres of protected bike lanes and expanded winter maintenance of cycling lanes.

As well, there will be further reconstruction of the Iron Horse Trail, which will include installing lights, plus the replacement of a bridge.

The chair of CycleWR told the protected bike lanes will be part of a connected route on Belmont Avenue and Queen's Boulevard.

“We're already hearing from people who would never have biked otherwise and this will help them get to place they would like to go.” Emily Slofstra said.

CycleWR started pitching the initiatives to the city and municipal election candidates last year.

“Getting people out and exploring their neighbourhoods by bike is really beneficial to the city as a whole. So, I think councillors saw that and we helped to show them how necessary it was with our campaigns last year … some of them pledged to fund it as well, so they pledged and stuck to their word.” Slofstra added.

She also feels it may encourage more people to bike to and from work, or even just for leisure.

“Just last night I was with a friend, who doesn't bike at all … she was saying even she would go out and bike now if they were actually protected (bike lanes) … and she felt safe enough that she wouldn't be hit by a car. So I think that was really cool to hear that already … people who otherwise might not have considered it, they were interested, but concerned is typically what that category of people are called,”

The city is hoping to have the protected bike lanes in place in time for the start of the 2019 school year.

They're looking at installing items like bumper blocks and flex stakes, so they can remove them in the future if necessary.

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