Show your support for the extension of the Downtown Dining District before the special council meeting this Monday Sept. 21. Please correspond, delegate, etc. It does make a big difference! Deadline for submission to email@example.com is Monday at 10 am. And contact your local councillor as well!
Furthermore, show your support for the dining district this weekend by biking there and dining at your favourite establishment!
We hope that you visit numerous times on the weekend. However, on Sunday at 2pm, we are hoping to get a photo op of bikes lining the dining district on Wyndham and beyond! So come along with your friends and family at this time to show your support!
Please respect all physical distancing and guidelines from public health.
The proposed Emma Earl bridge is back for discussion at council on Sept. 8, and we need your support to ensure the bridge is built. If we lose this bridge due to budget pressures, then there will be no east west bike lane connections built near Speedvale Avenue for decades to come.
At this juncture, GCAT’s “ask” is that staff complete the EA that will allow the building of the Emma Earl Bridge, and that the Official Plan be amended to allow the preferred bridge structure to be built. We also ask that the bridge be built in 2021, as the current date of 2025 is too far into the future.
Let council know that we need this bridge for people who walk and cycle in the absence of bike lanes on Speedvale Ave. The Committee of the Whole meeting to discuss this issue takes place on Sept 8, so please add comments or submit delegations to firstname.lastname@example.org before Friday Sept. 4 at 10 AM. Contacting your local councillors is also a good idea!
With the Speedvale Ave. bridge needing replacement, the project expanded to widening Speedvale Avenue, and adding on road, unbuffered bike lanes (per 2009 bylaw.) from Woolwich to Stevenson. The original option considered in 2015 was to add bike lanes to the widened street, as well as left turn lanes. The cost of this endeavour was excessive, as it required additional expropriation of extra land from 24 properties, as well as the requirement to put hydro underground. The added cost, for the bike lanes and underground hydro, would have been over $5 million. In comparison, the proposed bridge is a bargain at $1.7 million
Emma Earl Bridge- a better alternative!
A better idea was then presented; to build a bridge at Emma and Earl Streets. (see map). This potential connection was first identified in the Guelph Trail Master Plan (2005) and is further identified as a connection in the Official Plan under Schedule 6: Open Space System Trail Network. The bridge will serve as an important junction for people across the City of all ages who walk, cycle, and scooter.
This bridge proposal also represents an enormous capital cost avoidance for the city compared with bicycle infrastructure on Speedvale, while being more pleasant and safer for people of all ages.
The proposed bridge will connect protected, mostly off road north-south infrastructure from the Waverley-Riverside Park neighbourhood and beyond, to the heart of the city. It provides a safe connection to downtown, which is a major cycling destination according to Guelph’s Cycling Master Plan.
East-west, this bridge provides an alternative – via Emma St. – to travelling on Speedvale Ave. It will connect users from the east end to the Trans Canada Trail and eventually to the Woodlawn multi-use path or the spur line trail, which accesses services and jobs in the west end. It also provides those living west of the Speed River access to grocery stores and other services on Speedvale Ave. E.
An additional benefit is that with the connection to Emma St., the proposed bridge will allow people to avoid the steep Eramosa hill, which is an identified significant barrier for many people who want to cycle.
Best option for Bridge-Alternative 2b – Double Span Bridge (Hydro within Structure)
The bridge option presented under 2b is excellent from a cost and environmental perspective, as tree removals would be minimized by making use of the existing cleared hydro corridor. Incorporating hydro lines within the bridge structure would further minimize the impact. Construction of the pier within the valley would provide opportunity for removal of historic fill, and nonindigenous and invasive species would be replaced with locally-appropriate species to improve ecological functions, including water filtration and wildlife habitat. Alternative 2b would result in a positive impact to the Natural Heritage System.(Schedule B Class Environmental Assessment – Project File Emma Street to Earl Street Pedestrian Bridge Submitted by: Aquafor Beech Ltd.)
Wide Public Support for the Emma Earl Bridge
According to the report, there is only 50% support for this project from the public. This is misleading. The 50% support of this project includes major community groups, such as GCAT, the Guelph Hiking Club, GORBA, the Speed River Cycling Club, and other groups, which each represent 150 or more members and many supporters.
No bridge = no east west connection near Speedvale Ave: a broken promise
A tremendous amount of money has already been put into the project thus far, and there are no bike lanes planned for the reconstructed Speedvale Avenue. If council says no to this proposal, they will be saying no to one of the very few east-west cycling corridors that we have in the city, which is a major active transportation corridor. Furthermore, Council passed a resolution to allow an exemption to the 2009 Bike policy of bike lanes on Speedvale Ave in order to build this bridge as a car free route for cyclists and pedestrians. Taking away this long awaited connection would mean a broken promise, especially since the alternative on Speedvale Avenue no longer exists.
Take action! Contact your councillors and tell them you want them to build the Emma Earl Bridge!
A series of interviews with bike related businesses are being conducted by GCAT board member, Jordan Richard. Here is the next one in the series. Please let us know at email@example.com if you know of a bike friendly business that you want highlighted!
Paramount Skis-Bikes-Boards is one of our fantastic local bike shops in Guelph. They are located at 30 Arrow Road. As the COVID-19 pandemic evolved it was clear that bike shops would be impacted by a sudden surge in demand, but also supply shortages. This has undoubtedly had a big impact on their operations. Thanks to co-owner Lee Ferneyhough for taking the time to do this!
GCAT: First of all, can you give us a summary of what your business is all about?
Paramount: We started in 1993 specializing in Skis and Sports. Over the years we streamlined and focused on 3 main sports; Skiing and Snowboarding in the winter months, and Cycling in the summer. We all love what we sell and it keeps things interesting switching the store every 6 months or so.
GCAT: What logistical and staffing changes have you been forced to make so far due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
Paramount: Lots! First of all we have a couple staff members that are in the age bracket that is more at risk. They have either stopped working for the time being or have a reduced role that has their time here not overlapping with other coworkers.
We were thankfully considered “essential” for bicycle repair. This allowed us to keep the doors open to take in and drop off repair work. Thankfully we were also able to switch to online only sales to keep people on bikes. We switched to curbside only for both pickups and drop offs of online sales and service work. This remained that way until mid May when the restrictions were reduced. Since then we have a small sectioned off area at the front of the store that allows us to do the same as we were with curbside drop offs and pickups, but under the shelter of our own roof. This also allows us to know which items that people are looking at and interacting with, and allows us to know exactly which items we need to clean before returning to our shelves. We have been steaming all clothing, shoes, helmets and gloves before returning to our shelves, as well as using disinfecting wipes on all bikes that were touched by non staff members.
Finally we have reduced hours. Some of our staff members have young children, so we made the decision to switch to 11-5 Wednesday to Saturday to allow each family to coordinate childcare. Thankfully we have been able to keep our staff’s salaries to pre-covid numbers, regardless of the hours we have been opening.
GCAT: We’re hearing a lot about shortages of bikes and parts due to supply chain disruptions and a surge in demand. Is this affecting you?
Paramount: Absolutely!!!! We have never had this low of inventory. We are lucky enough to deal with two large cycling companies (Giant & Norco). Both of whom are known to have inventory throughout the season. Giant (the largest manufacturer of bicycles on the planet) sold out of kids bikes in March. Norco was not long after that. We have watched our inventory dwindle and dwindle all spring. So much so, that at the official start of summer, we had less bikes in the store than we would typically finish the season off with.
We have seen a pattern in what has sold out. It started with kids bikes, then moved on to entry level mountain and recreational hybrids. It then moved on to enthusiast bikes in the mid priced level and since has moved on to higher end models. Realistically, we really only have Gravel/Road and E-Bikes left in any sizable selection.
After bikes, we started to see shortages in Car Racks. So much so that all of our suppliers are backordered until later in the summer. After car racks we saw certain bike accessories start to run out. Our helmets and other items similar are drastically reduced.
Finally, since we, as well as most others in the cycling industry, do not have bikes to sell; our service work is incredibly backed up. To make matters worse, our suppliers are either incredibly backed up to get us product, or in some cases completely sold out of certain parts. So some bikes with typically easy repairs are not able to be finished as a certain part is backordered till the fall.
GCAT: Anecdotally, we know a lot more people are buying bikes and a lot more people are riding bikes at the moment. This is both for recreational purposes and for transportation purposes. What do you think the impact of this trend will be in the long-term?
Paramount: It can’t hurt. I’ve never witnessed more people on the local roads and trails (I’ve been riding for over 20 years). It’s great to see all the families and new cyclists see the joy first hand of riding on two wheels.
Typically when a motion for better cycling infrastructure or a new trail, or a bike park, etc, goes up for discussion there are a lot of people that don’t see it as money well spent. With more people on bikes, hopefully that number is reduced and the number of people advocating for it grows.
Our local cycling groups should see increased membership. This also allows them to broaden their scope of what is achievable with their resources. New trails, more rides, more events, more smiles!
More people on bikes is never a bad thing. This year we have definitely witnessed a growth of new cyclists as well as people that are remembering just how fun and healthy riding your bike can be. I don’t think that could be viewed as a negative thing.
GCAT: What needs to happen for our community to sustain this increase in cycling, even after the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us?
Paramount: I think the obvious things. More trails. Better trails. Better infrastructure throughout the city, (bike lanes, bike paths, etc). I think a bike park would be great. I think our local cycling community is in good hands with our local cycling groups (obviously GCAT included) With greater memberships, it would be nice to see more of a voice at city hall and beyond. We have a very healthy cycling scene in Guelph. We have great mountain biking in the city limits, and many trails within a short drive. We are close to the countryside, with roads with less traffic. We have some great local events that already happen. We could do more though. Tour de Guelph could be a weekend event instead of just a day (I know this has been talked about, but it would be nice to see). We could have races, and bike rodeos, freestyle competitions, mountain bike rides. With our local trail network and our thriving craft beer and restaurant scene, it would be awesome to see an event that shows how easy it is to go grab a drink or a bite all by bike. Call it the “Ale Trail” or something along those lines. Events that cater to the young riders and families are also needed in greater numbers. Ice cream rides, and story times in a park are all things that have been done, but typically once a summer. These could happen more often. All these things have been discussed in some light, some are already in motion. We just need to inspire the new cyclists (both young and old) to keep going. We all know how much fun it is to ride a bike, we now just need to make an inclusive environment that inspires people to want to jump on their bike.
Our local bike shops, us included, love to be involved in these events. However it’s tough with a small staff and having to plan events during our busiest times. It would be nice to see, with greater participation numbers, that our community takes the reigns at these new initiatives.
GCAT: What advice do you have for someone looking to buy a bike right now, if they want to use their bike for transportation in Guelph?
Paramount: Well if they can find one in their size and budget, they are already ahead of the curve. After that I would set aside a significant portion of the purchase price for accessories. A helmet is always strongly recommended. After that a bell and lights will help. I personally use lights(especially rear) even in the daytime. Some riding attire only helps at keeping you comfortable on the bike. Fenders, racks, a lock, kickstands, pannier bags, etc. The accessories add up, so I would budget for it. On a commuter bike I would go as far as saying 50% of the purchase price of the bike. I think having the bike fit properly and in good working order goes without saying, but I will say it anyways. After that I would probably pre-ride your commute, to make sure you allot enough time to get to work on time (without rushing so you can enjoy your ride). I would look at the trail networks to make your commute a little less stressful and a lot more scenic. Finally I would say enjoy it, commuting by bike can be a great alternative.
This mapping initiative is called PlanLocal. and is created by Paul Shaker, MCIP, RPP , a professional planner at Civicplan.ca
Paul has created interactive maps to allow residents to pinpoint locations on a crowd map in their city to propose things like more bike lanes, expanded sidewalks, or pedestrian-only zones. Sites have been already set up in Hamilton, Saskatoon, Regina and Ottawa.
Now, let’s plan Guelph’s streets. Guelph has already seen a partly pedestrianized downtown during Covid19, as well as some space given to cyclists and pedestrians around Eramosa Road and Speevale Avenue bridges.
We hope to have more engagement with the public on where you would like to see changes, in order to get a broader view of where active transportation infrastructure should be addressed in Guelph.
Let’s keep the conversation going and collect ideas to promote better streets! The site is very user friendly so it’s easy to add your input.
The City of Guelph recently posted its 2015-2019 Collision report. First the good news: the report shows an overall decline in injury-related collisions and the number of cyclists involved in collisions. The report finds that injury-related collisions on Guelph’s roads decreased by nine per cent over the last five years, and the number of cyclists involved in a collision decreased by about 26 per cent. All of us, pedestrians, cyclists and motorists should be happy about these decreases.
Nonetheless, we want to put this report into a broader context.
All of us want to make decisions based upon sound data, and the City’s collision study is a good example of gathering useful data. An injury-causing collision between a pedestrian or cyclist and a motorist is an extreme event that by its very nature is recorded as a data point. It is natural for decision-makers to want to reduce collisions at the recorded locations by investing in mitigating infrastructure. GCAT would support investments such as these.
What the City can’t easily record are the conflicts between road users that do NOT result in collision. Call them ‘near misses,’ but these are all the forced sudden stops, swerves and other emergency maneuvers cyclists and pedestrians have to make to keep themselves safe from motorists. We speculate that near misses are far more numerous than actual collisions. Because the City can’t record near misses it can’t learn the locations of these. It is an assumption that the near misses are clustered at the same locations as the actual collisions. It is quite possible that there are locations where there are many, many near misses that do not result in a high number of collisions. It’s hard to say.
One thing that we as GCAT members, particularly cyclists, can do is to make entries in the [bikemaps.org]bikemaps.org site. This site is a crowdsourced tool for global mapping of cycling safety. On this site you can add your own data on cycling crashes, near misses, hazards and thefts. The City of Guelph’s transportation planners do consult this mapping application when they are setting their priorities, so it is very important for all of us to help out by providing as much useful data as we can.
Besides collisions and near misses, there is also the issue of active transportation users’ general feelings of safety (or danger) when sharing roadways, even when there are few near misses or recorded collisions. For example, riding on a painted bike lane as cars speed along beside is overwhelmingly intimidating for many potential riders. Research has confirmed that this fear is enough to prevent a majority of people from riding bikes who otherwise would do so. If the goal is to increase the modal share of the various forms of active transportation, particularly cycling, then the answer is to invest in infrastructure that overcomes potential riders’ fears, whether or not collisions and near misses are taking place at these locations.So yes, let’s pay attention to where the collisions are, but let’s also recognize that this information only tells part of the story.
And, if you have or had any near misses, (we hope that you don’t, but if you do,) please enter your information on the bikemaps.org site!
A series of interviews with bike related businesses are being conducted by GCAT board member, Jordan Richard. Here is the first in the series. Please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org if you know of a bike friendly business that you want highlighted!
Annex Market Guelph is a new grocery delivery business that started up a few months ago in downtown Guelph at The Cornerstone. GCAT was excited to see that they would be using e-bikes for their deliveries. We connected for an interview so that we could learn more about what they were up to!
GCAT: Before we talk about e-bikes, tell us about how your business came to be and how has it been going?
Annex Market: The Cornerstone has been open for 19 years, but with the pandemic we’ve decided to pivot and form an alliance with Annex Market from Toronto, to deliver locally produced products, including our Cornerstone’s Own. We wanted our customers to have access to all sorts of foods and beverages produced in Guelph/Wellington, and the GTA. So far the customers that have participated in the program have been thrilled, and we’re expanding product offerings weekly to satisfy the demands of these ever-changing circumstances.
GCAT: Do you see your business continuing to grow as we (hopefully) progress in our recovery from COVID-19? Or is the idea that this was just a temporary pivot during the pandemic, until things can go back to normal at the Cornerstone?
Annex Market: We’re in. Now that we’ve explored this new venture and realized the power in local food aggregation, we look forward to continually expanding this program while we re-establish The Cornerstone in this new context of Covid-19.
GCAT: You decided to use e-bikes for your next-day grocery delivery service. What are the reasons for taking this approach?
Annex Market: The Cornerstone was established 19 years ago, as a vegan/vegetarian restaurant in part, to reduce our environmental footprint. It’s been our philosophy since day one that we need to live lighter on the planet, and our food delivery modality should reflect that mindset.
GCAT: Was the idea to use e-bikes from the start? Or were you debating different delivery options?
Annex Market: We were, from the start, going to find a way to make zero-emission delivery work in the core of our city.
GCAT: What has the experience been like using the e-bike in Guelph? Are there any challenges you didn’t expect? Based on your experience, do you recommend it to others? What other types of business could take advantage of them?
Annex Market: The e-bike delivery method has been way better than we could have hoped for. It’s fast, convenient and obviously environmentally awesome. Other than Grange Street hill, it’s been challenge free. About 10 years ago, we tried to develop a “Downtown Guelph Delivers” as a mode to deliver all sorts of products from Downtown Guelph businesses. At the time, the demand for delivery wasn’t significant enough to make this a viable business. Now that delivery is becoming a new way of life, any and all businesses could benefit from this delivery system.
GCAT: We know that safer infrastructure and a more connected cycling network are critical to making bikes a more attractive choice in Guelph. But is there anything else you think we could change that would encourage more citizens and businesses to try it out?
Annex Market: Expanded use of bike lanes and a Montreal-style Bixi Bike program, or an ebike-share program would be a fun and interesting thing to explore.
GCAT: Do you have any advice for people or businesses who are considering e-bikes?
Annex Market: Do it. Similarly to the previous answer, a business based ebike-share program would be an interesting thing to investigate. There is certainly demand, and where there’s demand there’s opportunity.
Info about the e-bike:
Annex Market: We’re using Elby bikes, which have been amazing so far. The battery lasts up to 125 kilometers on a single charge. It also has the capacity to recharge when you ride downhill and brake, which makes the battery life last a little longer. You can ride up to 35km/hour with full pedal assist on, so it’s super fast and fun. We easily cover more than the downtown core with Elby. We also are using Wike trailers, which have been perfect for our delivery system.
Darren Shock, GCAT member and local urban planner, spends a considerable amount of time thinking and worrying about how we can move around better in the City of Guelph. As part of a one-car family of four, the last few years of his life have involved a lot of time on two-wheels, in all seasons and with or without kids aboard for the ride. While he appreciates investments that have been made, he thinks we have a long way to go on creating an active transportation network that works for everyone.
A few weeks ago, he was inspired by an article he read in Bloomberg City Lab. Here’s the idea: Make maps for bike infrastructure as if the lanes, trails, and paths constituted a connected transit system.
Here is his explanation of the “rules” used to create the map and his initial observations:
1. Priority was to create a “network” of connected routes like a transit spider map. That results in some gaps in the East and West, since their lanes aren’t really connected to the N-S spine along Gordon or the E-W routes through downtown. If it’s on the map, but not connected, it’s there because it is either almost connected (geographically close), almost all-ages-all-abilities (AAA) infra. (e.g. Woodlawn or Eastview MUPs), or leads to a major destination (e.g. Dawson to YMCA).
2. Major trails are included (e.g. downtown, river trails), but more passive trails (e.g. around southgate) are left out. Primarily intra-neighbourhood trails (e.g. Westminster Woods) are also excluded.
3. No shared routes or shared lanes, as these aren’t infrastructure.
4. Internal University roads excluded, as they aren’t part of the City network.
1) Like @Adamadonaldson says, major gaps in safe/connected infra. in the West-end. East-end too. That’s a problem. Can’t connect to the “network”, or move N-S easily.
2) Connected doesn’t mean safe or useful. Majority of “network” is painted lanes (sadly), and there are still significant gaps to major destinations. Hard to connect east or west outside of downtown. AAA-like infrastructure (trails) doesn’t always connect to destinations. An AAA map, like the excellent one from @LdnOntBikeCafe here (https://londonbicyclecafe.com/map) would not be very inspiring in #Guelph, as we’d be left with trails and some disconnected MUPs. Not nearly as many destinations.
3) Overall, there are more connections than Darren thought there would be. However, he has concerns about the quality of infrastructure that’s there, and where it is located/connects to. Some neighbourhoods are very disconnected.
In an effort to start a discussion, and perhaps crowdsource improvements to the map, he encourages comments. He asks four quick questions for discussion :
Is this useful?
What did he miss and why should it be there? (e.g. connected routes)
What would make this map better? (e.g. different colours, considerations for accessibility, caution signs for dangerous spots)
Are the “station” names right?
As Darren notes, he has no expectations for this map, but if you have a few minutes or thoughts, feel free to contact him via email@example.com.
The situation isn’t ideal. Some would prefer these bike lanes in different locations. Some want even more protected bike lanes across the city. Some wonder why the cost of installing bike lanes is so high.
One thing we can all agree on is that a separated bicycle network is key to increasing the amount of people who use bicycles for transportation.
So, for now, let’s bask in the knowledge that Guelph is definitely moving in the right direction toward a more comprehensive, separated bicycle network.
The bicycle bell – the voice of courtesy and safety.
The sharp double “ting” of a bicycle bell when coming up upon people walking on a shared path is the sign of courtesy and safety. The bell is how we say hello to people.
Here are some suggestions on bell life in this time of covid-19 when there are more people and bikes sharing the paths.
Get a bell. If you have a bike get a $10 bell. Absolutely. Join bike culture of being friendly, aware, sensitive people. Get a bell. Its the Amsterdam way.
Get a bell that has a great sound. A piercing yet light tone. And something that sounds like a bike bell. Get a bell that feels good to ding. Something with a deeply satisfying action.
The bell is used to warn people you are coming behind them and it would be great if they moved a little to the RIGHT, and control their dogs and children and not otherwise jump in front of you.
The bell does not say “Im more important than you and get out of my way.”
Ding the bell with finesse. Your message is one of welcome and care.
Ding the bell twice in short succession when you are close enough that they will likely hear you and have time to process what is happening.
Not all people will hear the bell or if they hear it they wont know what to do. People with ear buds or headphones probably wont hear you. Older people might not hear you. If people dont hear you breathe your little Amsterdam way breath, be generous of spirit, slow down and pass to the left.
Be friendly and courteous when you pass people. Say good morning or thank you. Every person you meet is a chance to change someones day for the better, and leave them with the thought “what a lovely bicycle rider.”
When passing group of people coming towards you assess the risk potential. Do they have kids or a dog? Is the dog on leash? You generally only have to ding them if they dont see you.
Kids can be like squirrels who skitter back and forth on the road trying to avoid your car. Help the kids feel safe. Slow down and direct them with your hand to the best side of the trail to be safe. Then make eye contact, smile and say something encouraging like “great job”.
If you are on a collision course with a squirrel like child, use your hand to signal them to stand still, then you slow down and pass with gentleness. This works with skittering adults too. Take control, be a leader, use your hand to still them.
Ding the bell when passing another cyclist and say “passing on the left”. Its courteous and safe and shows you are a cool cyclist in the Amsterdam tradition.
Dont ever think of tinging your bell at a car. Cars have very poor hearing. They literally dont hear bike bells because they are drinking coffee, listening to the radio, talking on the phone, or texting.
First three rules of cars – stay out of their way, be seen and be loud. If someone is opening their door into you the correct response is yelling in your loudest punching voice. I usually punch out “HEY” while making short but intense eye contact. You want to shock them so they immediately stop what they are doing so can ride past them safe and sound.
Please resist being uncool and swearing at people in cars and chasing them down the street to tell them how stupid they are. Thats just uncool and reflects poorly on your brother and sister cyclists. Thats not the Amsterdam way.
In this time of strangeness due to covid-19, bicyclists and our bells can be little moments of courtesy and connection on the paths. Be friendly and safe with your bell.