Additional project questions and answers
In addition to the questions received via this project page, the project team has received and answered some additional questions via email. Their responses are included here for your information.
Question/Comment 1: The one-way cycle tracks between Mary Street and Bowman Street do not provide sufficient separation between cyclists and vehicular traffic and won’t prevent vehicles from stopping or parking in them. The one-way cycle tracks should include a full-height barrier curb or bollards like in Uptown Waterloo.
The City recognizes that, similar to the design through Uptown Waterloo, the rollover curb would not satisfy many potential users of the cycle tracks. The City is working with a narrow right-of-way between King Street and Bowman Street. Even with the proposed property acquisitions and removal of turning lanes, space will still be insufficient for a design that includes greater separation while still providing space for utilities and snow storage.
It has been suggested that bollards be installed to prevent vehicles from driving or parking in the bike lanes, similar to the retrofit to the bike lanes on King Street in Uptown Waterloo. The reason King Street has bollards are because there are no driveways to consider, whereas this Union Street project has multiple driveways (more than 40), making placement of bollards very challenging. The design of the infrastructure has to take into account the context of each street for various services and operations using the street. This street is classified as a Major Collector roadway. Municipalities are currently testing different types of separation for cycling facilities under winter conditions, once this pilot project is complete we’ll be in a better position to move forward on preferred techniques. Until such time, the raised cycle track with roll-over curb is included in this design and meets current provincial design guidelines for separation. In the winter, snow will be cleared from the cycle tracks by the wing of the street plow and pushed into the wider boulevard which is being added as part of the design to address snow storage issues.
Another suggestion was to use a barrier curb and raise the cycle tracks to a similar elevation as the sidewalk, and the barrier curb would prevent vehicles from driving or parking in the lanes. This design would pose a safety hazard to cyclists as a curb facing bike lane would not be a smooth, flat surface. Ramps would need formed into the bike lane at every driveway entrance leading to frequent and abrupt changes in elevations.
Regarding vehicles parking in the cycle tracks, there are fewer businesses, and most have their own parking lots. There is already no on-street parking on Union. This is different from Uptown where there are commercial businesses lining the street. On Union Street there should be less pressure to park in the bike lanes. Some parking in the bike lanes can still be expected from parcel delivery vehicles and the like, however these should be less frequent and intermittent than in Uptown and manageable via enforcement.
Question/comment 2: Why don’t the one-way cycle tracks connect to King Street in Alternative 1? Removing the existing right-turn lane at King Street would provide enough space to do so.
There is insufficient room to provide cycling infrastructure between King Street and Mary Street without purchasing entire abutting properties. Strictly in terms of capacity, the traffic assessment notes that removing the southwest bound dedicated right-turn lane is possible; however, this lane provides an important connection for turning vehicles from the adjacent properties to the north given sightline constraints (i.e., vehicles exiting onto Union Street from Dodds Lane or the travel agency parking lot). The traffic assessment also suggests that eliminating this lane results in significant vehicle queueing beyond Mary Street. Additionally, its removal only provides space for active transportation users on the northwest side of the road. Given that the alignment of Union Street through King Street is already less than desirable; further skewing of this intersection would not meet current transportation design guidelines and could pose a safety concern.
Question/comment 3: Why would the City choose to construct new cycling infrastructure on this short section of Union Street when it doesn’t connect to existing networks (i.e., Margaret Avenue or the Iron Horse Trail and Belmont Avenue)?
The current Transportation Master Plan, completed in 2011, recommends bike lanes along Union from King Street to Margaret Avenue. The plan recommended that the bike lanes on Union Street be implemented in a 5+ year time horizon, as funding became available. Typically, this means implementing bike lanes in tandem with other major works, such as road reconstructions. Cycling infrastructure will be implemented on the remaining section of Union Street, from Moore Avenue to Margaret Avenue in the future. An exact timeframe cannot be provided at this time as an update to the Transportation Master Plan is currently in progress and will have updated recommendations for timing.
The City of Waterloo cannot implement bike lanes west of King Street as Union Street crosses over into the City of Kitchener; the implementation of any bike lanes from King Street to the Iron Horse Trail or Belmont Avenue would need to be completed by the City of Kitchener. Residents interested in what Kitchener is proposing within their boundaries should consult the Engage Kitchener webpage for the Cycling and Trails Master Plan.
Question/comment 4: The turning radii at intersecting streets are too large. They should be reduced in order to minimize pedestrian crossing distance and slow vehicles.
The City has yet to establish a standard for turning radii for projects with significant active transportation components; however, this is currently under evaluation. Turning radii on the conceptual alternative plans are placeholders until the project moves to the detailed design phase. Appropriate turning radii will be determined for this project using engineering standards and based on various factors such as the types of vehicles that use the street, width of the departure street, and width of receiving street. The actual turning radii will be presented with the detailed designs, to be posted for review and comment at a later date (currently scheduled for November 2020).
Question/comment 5: Would the City be willing to make changes to the existing one-way streets perpendicular to Union Street to make them more cycling friendly, such as the installation of contraflow cycling lanes on Herbert Avenue?
Work beyond the limits of Union Street is outside the scope of this project. Herbert Street between Union Street and Allen Street is tentatively scheduled for reconstruction in 2022, with design work starting in 2021. An assessment of the feasibility of contraflow bike lanes can be completed during the design phase. Please keep an eye on Engage Waterloo, the City’s news and notices webpage, or other social media platforms, in 2021 for information regarding the reconstruction of Herbert Street.
Question/comment 6: Can the overhead hydro be buried to create additional space for wider boulevards or active transportation facilities and improve aesthetics?
Burying overhead hydro and utilities is extremely costly. As such, the Council-approved budget for the project does not include funds for burying of overhead utilities, only relocation where required for the implementation of the preferred design alternative. For context, the City had given consideration to burying the overhead hydro on Albert Street when new cycling infrastructure was implemented between Bridgeport Road and Erb Street, but decided against it as it would have nearly doubled the cost of the project.
Question/comment 7: What is the plan for replacing trees that are removed as a result of the project?
The City will plant new trees where feasible following the completion of construction. Alternative 1 impacts existing trees more significantly than Alternative 2. Most of the trees that would be removed as part of Alternative 1 are currently on private property that the City will need to acquire in order to facilitate the installation of the one-way cycle tracks. Due to limited proposed boulevard space, replacement of trees on public property will likely not be possible between King Street and Bowman Street. The City may be able to aid with the replacement of trees on private property following completion of construction; however, this will be subject to further discussion between the property owner and the City.