Cycling in Waterloo: Environmentally aware

With the climate crisis continuing to plague the minds of Canadians, many have turned to more eco-conscious forms of transportation. 

 In Kitchener-Waterloo alone, walking, carpooling and  Grand River Transit services (bus and ION)  are staples for those looking for alternate modes of transportation throughout the region.  

However, there is another that is becoming increasingly popular – cycling.  

Speaking with David Trueman from WR Cycle, cyclists come up against many obstacles: “the majority of the population do not feel safe riding in traffic.” 

“We need protected infrastructure and that takes the form of being separated from traffic whether it’s on multi-use trails or boulevards, paths or what we call cycle-ways” Trueman said.  

This infrastructure would allow cyclists to have added protection, something that is currently lacking and dissuading many from trying cycling themselves.  

“We’ve been overinvesting in cars and motor vehicles and the infrastructure to serve them for about a century – and it’s time to catch up so that people who are walking or cycling can get where they need to go safely.” 

With the reallocation of this investment towards vehicular transportation, cyclists could have added protection with a minimal grid, primary network or city spine. 

A minimal grid refers to a cycling initiative by the City of Toronto, while a primary network and city spine are interconnected systems that guarantee safe passage for those using alternate forms of transportation.  

Currently, there are few safe havens for cyclists in the region. Trueman advocated for off road trails such as “the Ironhorse Trail, the Spurline Trail, The Homer Watson Multi-Use Trail and the Laurel Creek Trail.” 

Conversely, there are places in the region cyclists should avoid if they are able.  

“There’s a bridge over Highway 85 on Northfield. You have a painted green cycling lane with high-speed traffic on either side of you  getting onto the freeway, so that’s probably the most famous unsafe place.” 

Truman also advised that cyclists avoid the Forwell Trail.  

“There’s an example of the Forwell Trail going north east out of Uptown Waterloo where it crosses Weber. There’s a little tiny refuge island in the center that you’ve got two lanes of high-speed traffic on either side … I’ve heard many reports of people saying they almost saw someone get hit there,” Trueman said.  

Of course, this shouldn’t dissuade those looking to start cycling. The best way to start, Trueman suggested, is with friends.  

“Start riding with friends because that’s the best way to get introduced to it and get hooked on it.” 

Furthermore, cycling daily has many health benefits. 

“Statistically, you are more likely to have serious health issues if you don’t get the kind of exercise that you get when you’re riding than you are to get injured when you are riding. So, you actually reduce your risk of health issues by riding,” Truman said.  

Looking to try cycling? Check out Cycle WR for information on how to be a safe and alert cyclist in the Kitchener-Waterloo Region. You can find them on their website

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