By Adrian Duyzer
Published August 24, 2010
Kitchener city council has approved a $6.1 million plan to build a network of bike paths and trails that will significantly boost the amount of cycling infrastructure in the city.
The goal is to greatly increase the number of people who choose to travel by bicycle, with the focus on people who are interested in cycling more but are concerned about doing so on city streets, not on already committed cyclists.
Much of the new cycling network will comprise so-called bicycle priority streets, or traffic-calmed areas that will make it easy for cyclists to navigate existing roadways.
The improvements will include signage indicating routes to major destinations and changes to major crossings that would give cyclists priority.
The plan also calls for eight kilometres of separated cycle lanes that can safely accommodate cyclists past driveways and intersections.
The remainder of the network will be made up of typical bike lanes and marked areas on shared roadways.
The idea is to make Kitchener a "bicycle-friendly city" and encourage people to use their bikes more for commuting, short outings and leisure.
While the plan takes into consideration the views of those already sold on cycling, the idea is really to reach out to the majority of residents who are typically "interested but concerned" about cycling on city streets, said [transportation planner Ron Schirm].
An interesting part of the new plan is the requirement that city engineers consider the needs of cyclists when they plan road projects. This move has "flipped the responsibility", says Schirm, so that if planners don't include cyclists in road planning the decision "needs to be justified at a senior level why it cannot be".
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