More on Bike Lanes in K-W

Last fall, I blogged about the lack of continuity of bike lanes in Kitchener-Waterloo.  Specifically, the lack of safe crossings of the Conestoga Parkway.  I realize these things take time and money to implement, and I hope that the cities and region are moving towards better connectivity for cyclists.

However… I was on a ride with my friend Shelly last weekend (Here’s the route).  We rode on fat bikes along the Grand River Trail, south towards and through Bingemans, under Highway 7 and on to the the new bridge at Fairway.  When we turned around, we decided to take the roads back to Waterloo.

We travelled north on Lackner Boulevard from Zeller to Victoria, and I was amazed at the lack of continuity of the bike lanes on Lackner.  Here’s what I’m talking about (Photos from Google Street View):

Our ride on Lackner started in a nice, wide bike lane:

In some places, there was a wide paved shoulder to the RIGHT of the bike lane!  This was wonderful.  We could ride side-by-side and talk, without fear of drivers brushing by too closely.

Our luck didn’t last.  The bike lane ended, so we had to merge with traffic.  We lost the bike lane and the paved shoulder.

But wait… the bike lane appeared again!

This pattern repeats 5 (five!) times between Zeller and Victoria.  One time, the bike lane appeared for such a short distance, you could see both the “Begins” and “Ends” signs in the same photo:

I’m all for bike lanes.  I feel safer in them.  However, in this case, the appearing/disappearing bike lanes are not only frustrating, they’re confusing for both cyclists and motorists.  One minute, I’m riding in my own lane.  The next minute, I’m riding with motor vehicle traffic.  As a cyclist, I’m always paying attention to whether or not I’m in a bike lane.  If I am, I feel some sense of safety because of the distance between myself and cars.  If there is no bike lane, I’m paying more attention to cars as they pass me.  Car drivers, on the other hand, likely aren’t paying as much attention to whether or not there’s a bike lane and they may not expect cyclists merging in and out of bike lanes constantly.

I can’t say if it’s more dangerous to have this kind of disappearing/reappearing bike lane versus no bike lane at all, and I’m hopeful that the long-term plan is to have a bike lane along this entire stretch of Lackner.  It just seems to me that the process is:  “We need more bike lanes… let’s paint some here, where we have room.  Oh, there’s no room up ahead? That’s ok, we won’t put in a bike lane there.”

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One thought on “More on Bike Lanes in K-W

  1. The sad thing is, it’s not even like there isn’t room, because the paved shoulder on the far side of the road is empty in those cases. It’s just a matter of keeping the turns wide so all the cars can be a few seconds faster.

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