The lanes set up by narrowing down six regional roads to create a 30 km temporary bike lane network during the COVID 19 pandemic have been removed, and the region needs to analyze all the data they gathered since July.
Steve Van De Keere, the Region’s Director of Transportation tells Spoke Online “the roads were able to function fairly well, even with reduced capacity.”
“Even as traffic volumes continue to climb back up, they’re not back up to pre-COVID-19 levels,” Van De Keere says.
The bike lanes were suggested by the Waterloo Region’s bike community.
“The number of cyclists this year were about three times [higher] than they were last year,” David Trueman of CycleWR told Spoke Online.
Locals like Melissa Bowman were quite happy to use the temporary lanes, especially because they were wide enough for safe cycling.
“I know a few people with cargo bikes, they felt comfortable in that space, people with children who were not as skilled as some adult cyclists, they had that space that they could actually ride without taking space on sidewalks and ride together as a family,” Bowman told Spoke Online.
However, there were some people very much against it. At the last meeting of Regional Council where they discussed the topic, Coun. Geoff Lorentz said people will remember this experiment for a long time.
“I get complaints from business owners, from people from my neighbourhood, people who’re walking down the street, emails all the time, and honestly I think it was a big mistake,” Lorentz said.
Even the people who didn’t like temporary bike lanes say the Region needs a better permanent bike infrastructure.
This is one of the region’s strategic goals. According to the latest strategic plan from 2018, the region had over 300 km of cycling facilities. The plan is to double that by 2024.