Waterloo Ontario: An Exciting Cycling Community
by New to Waterloo Guest Writer and Cycling Enthusiast: Rebecca Ferguson
Waterloo is a vibrant city, with activities and opportunities for all. People come here for a variety of reasons: as students at one of the three major institutes of higher learning or for jobs in our growing manufacturing and tech sectors.
Often, people come as visitors expecting to see Mennonites at the St. Jacob’s market, to explore Doon Heritage Pioneer Village, to or to attend public seminars at CIGI or the Perimeter Institute. People think of Waterloo in a variety of ways but so far, it is less well known as an inclusive and exciting cycling city. This is changing!
Counselor Sarah Marsh commented on the city’s conscious effort to develop a cycling community, “I’m pleased to see forward movement on implementing action items from the Cycling Master Plan… The Bike Kitchener map is a well-kept secret. I would love to see the Bike Kitchener Map more widely distributed and utilized by citizens”.
The Bike Kitchener Map is a tool that residents can use to plan cycling trips around the city. The map shows on and off-road bikeways, suggested routes and connections, as well as secure bike parking facilities, local bike shops, and other important cycling information. The map is available on the City of Kitchener website or at Kitchener City Hall.
The Bike Kitchener map is just one of many initiatives the city has put forward to make cycling more accessible. In the Uptown Parkade and on the Iron Horse Trail, cyclists can use the Fixit Bike Stands. These have tools for fixing bikes, tire pumps, and mini digital instruction books. There are also more than 30 parking racks in Uptown Waterloo, as well as four bike lockers. These are available for just $10 a month and can be purchased by calling 519 747 8637.
Furthermore, Waterloo has more than 60 km of on road cycling lanes. After a long day of cycling, a thirsty rider can take advantage of the Blue W program. If you see a Blue W logo in the window of a business or public facility, you know you can refill your reusable bottler there with free water. There is even an app that can direct you to the nearest Blue W location!
Looking for somewhere exciting to ride? Waterloo is filled with great trails for cyclists of all ages and abilities! The 5.5 km Iron Road Trail weaves through the city and takes riders past local landmarks such as Vincenzo’s, City Café Bakery, Victoria Park, the Joseph Schneider Haus, and Nougat Café (to name a few). For those interested in mountain biking, Kitchener is home to the world class, 25 km, Hydrocut Trail. Other trails include the 2.3 km Bechtel Park Trail, The 8 km Laurel Trail, the 45 km Kissing Bridge Trailway, the 7 km RIM Park Trail, and the soon-to-be-completed 2.5 km Waterloo Spur Line Trail.
However, if you do not have your own bike, it does not mean that you are excluded from these opportunities. The Working Center of downtown Kitchener introduced a program called Community Access Bikeshare (CAB), in 2013. For just forty dollars a season, residents can gain access to public bicycles located at stations around Kitchener and Waterloo.
Cycling in Waterloo Region brings the community together and connects residents with several events and clubs. Waterloo Region is home to the Waterloo Cycling Club, who hosts weekly rides, as well as Cycle Waterloo, who host many cycling events throughout the year.
So come out and get involved in this city’s exciting cycling community!
Sites for cyclists:
Bike Kitchener www.bikekitchener.ca
Explore Waterloo Region explorewaterlooregion.ca/ (follow the links from ‘Things to do’ and ‘Tours & Trails’) – great cycling and touring maps
The Hydrocut http://thehydrocut.ca/
Township of Woolwich http://www.woolwich.ca/en/townshipServices/OnRoadCyclingRoutes.asp – 13 detailed rides with maps
Community Access Bikeshare www.theworkingcentre.org/cab
Waterloo Cycling Club http://waterloocyclingclub.ca/ (information about the Hydrocut, weekly rides)
Cycle Waterloo http://cyclewaterloo.com/ (information about competitive events)
Region of Waterloo, parks and trails http://www.regionofwaterloo.ca/en/discoveringtheregion/parkstrails.as
Grand River Transit www.grt.ca (Bus ‘n’ Bike program; easygo Trip Planner)