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08/02/2011

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Jim Meyer

Great to see Kitchener Council make the correct decision.
Now, if we could only do something about the ridiculous proliferation of roundabouts.....

chris

Car free? Fantastic. However, I do think that it has to be more than a venue for entertainment.

Some of you might find this interesting: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/31/opinion/sunday/the-dutch-way-bicycles-and-fresh-bread.html?_r=1&src=me&ref=general

In particular, the notion of shifting planning focus from car friendliness to overall livability resonates with me.

I have seen first hand what a city looks like that has banished cars from its interior and they are very people centric. The city I am thinking of (in Germany) has ample parking near the core, but no cars allowed in it. Prior to switching to this, they had streets which allowed cars on them right through the middle of the city and the place was a congested mess. Now? It is very active and places people, not cars, first.

Waterloo is very close to being able to pull this off. Last night, I had cause to be out late with my daughter and she, with the clarity of thought that is often shown by the young, pointed out how many people there were on the street. She was surprised that it would be so active so late. She was right. The place was packed. At times you could hardly move on the sidewalk. Was there something special going on? I don't think so. What she pointed out is that there is already a large amount of people traffic on foot in the core. The public square at Waterloo Square, much maligned by naysayers at the start, is almost always busy. It would not be a huge step for the city to widen the sidewalks so that traffic is down to one lane in each direction with no street parking and reduce the speed limit to 30kmph (this would be a positive step towards no cars on King Street) between Bridgeport and William streets. At the same time, allow merchants to spill out onto the sidewalks and increase significantly the infrastructure for parking bikes.

I do hope that something like this gets done - the more liveable and people friendly the core is, the more people will come to it. Making the core people - not car - centric is even more important when you consider the push in Waterloo right now towards intensifying housing in the Uptown. The Bauer buildings, the old Seagram ones, the project going in at Allen and Park, and at least one more which I forget right now all intensify housing right in the core of the city. Add to that the townhouse developments on the old Labatts and Canada Cabinets properties and all the single family dwellings already in existence, and you have a lot of people right on the Uptown's doorstep who don't need a car to get to the core. Given half a chance, these people will walk the two or three blocks to the Uptown and will use it for their shopping and entertainment.

It sure beats driving to a big box store.

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