Separated Cycling Lanes

Separated cycling facilities - keep on cycling!

The Region of Waterloo has fully constructed its 5 km separated cycling network pilot project with the goal of encouraging more people to cycle in Waterloo Region. The cycling network will continue to be monitored until the Spring of 2021 – learn more about the project below.

 About the project

The Region of Waterloo has identified, designed and constructed a network of separated cycling facilities as a pilot project. The network, measuring approximately 5 km, includes linkages along University Avenue, Columbia Street, King Street, Albert Street and Erb Street with connecting links along the Laurel Trail through Waterloo Park (see image of pilot network, below).

Map of Separated Cycling Pilot Network
The linkages were selected through an identification and evaluation process. 

 Project objectives

The goal of the separated cycling network pilot project is to encourage more people to cycle in Waterloo Region and to determine the feasibility of establishing more permanent separated cycling facilities on roads throughout Waterloo Region. As part of the project, continuous monitoring and evaluation will be undertaken to determine the project's impacts on:

  • The number of people cycling along the corridors
  • The safety of all road users in the pilot project area
  • Vehicular traffic and travel in the pilot project area

In order to improve understanding of the pilot project by all road users, the Region, in partnership with local committees and stakeholders will be undertaking a comprehensive education strategy over the course of the pilot project with the goal of: 

  • Educating people on bikes on how to use the new separated cycling facilities; and
  • Educating other transportation users on how to interact with the new separated cycling facilities.

 The Region will also:

  • Track key implementation and maintenance challenges; and
  • Report back on input received, lessons learned and next steps.

What does the pilot network look like?

Cycling facilities can separated by a number of different treatments including using bollards with or without a curb or planter boxes. They help distinguish the area for cycling from motor vehicle traffic. Different types of separation have been constructed along the network – learn more about the different types of separation below. 

Erb Street East / West (Caroline Street North – Peppler Street)

 Erb Street separated bike lanes showing curb and bollard separation

Albert Street (Seagram Drive – University Avenue West)

 University Ave. West separated bike lanes showing concrete curb and Flexible bollardsbollard separation

Columbia Street West (Albert Street - King Street North)

 Columbia St. W. separated bike lanes showing painted buffer and bollard separation

Columbia Street West (Hagey Boulevard – Albert Street)

 Columbia Street West separated bike lanes showing bollard separation

University Avenue West (Seagram Drive – King Street North)

 University Ave. W. separated bike lanes showing concrete Curb & Flexible Bollards

King Street North (University Avenue West – Columbia Street West)

King Street separated bike lanes showing painted buffer, bollards and rubber delineators separation

Update on Implementation - Intersection Markings

You may have noticed that pavement markings and different crossing treatments have been added through intersections along the separated cycling network to clearly identify where people on bikes can be expected to travel.

One-stage and two-stage left turn bike boxes have been added at select intersection allowing for cyclists to make a left-turn. The locations where these bike boxes have been implemented are listed below: 

One-Stage, left turn bike box locations Two-Stage, left-turn bike box locations
  • Columbia/Phillip (Phillip Street only)
  • King/Columbia
  • University/Phillip
  • University/Albert
  • King/University
  • Columbia/Hagey
  • Columbia/Phillip
  • King/Erb
  • University/Philip

Single-stage bike box

The image above depicts a single-stage bike box on Phillip Street travelling northbound at Columbia Street West. A cyclist would position themselves in the left-most area of the green box, directly in front of left-turning vehicles. When the light is green and there are no on-coming vehicles, the cyclist would carry out their left-turn.  

Two-stage bike box

The image above depicts a two-stage bike box at the Columbia and Philip Street intersection. A cyclist would proceed through the intersection on Columbia Street green signal and position themselves in the green queue box (the first stage of the two-stage crossing). When the light in the opposite direction turns green, the cyclist would ride through the intersection and complete the second-stage of the crossing. 

In addition, some new crossing treatments have been implemented which may be different than what you have seen or experienced before. The following is an overview of those treatments and where they are found. You can learn more about how to use these facilities under “Navigating the Network”.

Green pavement markings on Erb Street

Green pavement markings through the intersection of Erb Street at King Street North, including new bicycle signals for westbound travel. The green pavement markings provide a visual reminder of where a cyclist will be travelling through the intersection, while the bicycle signal in the westbound direction informs a cyclist on when they can proceed through the intersection. 

Green pavement markings at Erb and King Streets

Green pavement markings through the intersection of Erb Street at King Street North. Left-turn arrow accommodates southbound cyclists on King Street North looking to turn left onto Erb Street East. The left-turn queuing space provides left-turning cyclists with a dedicated space to wait during a red signal phase without blocking cyclists travelling southbound along King Street North. 

 Navigating the Network

To help navigate the network, signage has been added at locations where bike boxes have been introduced, providing cyclists with intersection-specific directions on how to use the new pavement markings. Examples of the signs are provided below:

Two Stage Left Turns

Two stage left turn at Columbia and Philip

At the intersection of Columbia/Philip, cyclists travelling westbound along Columbia and wanting to turn left at Philip Street should proceed through intersection on the green signal and stop in the green waiting area. When light on the opposite side is green, proceed through the intersection and into the cycling lane on Philip Street. 

Two stage left turn at Erb Street

For cyclists travelling westbound along Erb Street East and wanting to turn left at King Street North, proceed through the intersection on the green signal and stop in the green area.  When the light on King Street is green, proceed through the intersection and into the cycle track on King Street 

Trail Connections

Trail Connection at Erb Street East

Cyclists traveling eastbound along Erb Street East and wanting to turn right onto the Laurel Trail should travel to the end of the separated bike lane and turn left into the pedestrian and cyclist waiting area. When the bicycle signal is green, ride through the intersection and onto the Laurel Trail. 

Trail connection from the Laurel Trail

Cyclists traveling from the Laurel Trail and waiting to connect to the separated bike lanes on Erb Street West should dismount and walk their bike across Caroline Street North. Once across the street, proceed to the separated bike lane. 

To help understand how to navigate the Bike Box Left Turn, please watch this video (Video courtesy of the City of Guelph)


To help understand how to navigate the Two -Stage Left Turn Bike Box , please watch this video: 


 Tips for Winter Cycling


Cycling in the winter is very different and can mean that changes need to be made to what you wear, how you ride and when you ride. The following are some tips on how to ride safely in the winter:

  • Wear multiple layers & protect your extremities
    You likely already have clothes needed to ride comfortable in the winter months. Winter cycling can be made more comfortable by wearing many different layers and clothing that protect your hands, ears, and feet. It’s important that you have a good pair of gloves or mitts for your hands, warm boots for your feet, and a toque or headband/earmuffs for protect your head and ears. Your experience can be made more comfortable by opting for eye protection, by choosing to use ski goggles or sunglasses to protect your eyes from strong winds or the sun’s reflection off of the snow. 
  • Look after your bicycle
    Cycling in the winter exposes your bike to road salt, which can contribute to rust development on bikes. You should clean your bike regularly, rinsing off any salt or grime that has accumulated during your time riding. Choosing to install front and rear fenders can help to prevent slush and water from flying up your back, making for a cleaner ride. In the winter, wider, knobbier tires can provide increased traction for riding on snow and ice. Studded tires provide additional traction, particularly in icy conditions. 
  • Research your route
    While the separated cycling network will be plowed and maintained this winter, not all bike lanes and trails that connect to it will be. It’s important that you research the route that you are planning to take to see whether the connecting bike lane or trail is being maintained in the winter. The City of Waterloo’s Snow Removal webpage provides more information on which trails are maintained over the winter months. 
  • Stay Bright!
    With days getting shorter, it’s important that you make yourself visible to other road users. This includes ensuring that your bike is equipped with a working headlight and taillight, and that you incorporate reflective gear to your clothing, panniers, backpack or helmet. Ensuring that your bike is well lit and that you’re traveling with reflective gear, you can stay visible at night and during periods of inclement weather.  
  • Adjust your riding

    You should take the following into consideration when riding your bike in the winter:
    • Ride slowly and brake early in advance of a stop sign or signalized intersection;
    • Reduce your tire pressure to increase the surface area of your tires and improve traction; 
    • Drink warm liquids during your ride and be sure to remove all water bottles from your bicycle when it is parked outside;
    • Stay as visible as possible by riding with the appropriate lighting on your bike and incorporating reflective hear onto your backpack, helmet, and panniers; and
    • Change gears regularly to minimize snow build up on your chain and gears.



 The Region will continue to closely monitor and maintain the cycling network until spring of 2021, including winter maintaining the cycling network this coming winter season (2020). Traffic counts will be completed to identify traffic volumes, speeds, and travel times along the different streets while the separated bike lanes are in place. The traffic count and travel speed data will be analyzed at the end of the project and compared with data that was collected prior to the implementation of the separated bike lanes. This information will help the Region better understand the benefits and challenges of separated cycling facilities.

 What we've heard so far

The Region conducted an initial online survey from December 2019 to March 2020 to gauge the opinions on the separated cycling network by those using it. As part of this survey, users were asked to share feedback on the different separator types as well as preferences and practices regarding cycling.

The survey received a total of 1,741 people who participated in the survey which was hosted on the EngageWR platform. A significant amount of information was gathered Participants were asked how they have experienced the separated cycling lanes. There were 452 people who experienced the lanes through cycling, 1,619 through driving and 536 through walking. Cyclists were asked additional questions about their cycling habits and reasons why they cycle. Half of cyclists said they cycled daily or almost daily during the spring, summer and fall seasons and 40 per cent of cyclists said they cycled in the winter. Participants in general ranked the Bollard on asphalt (at Columbia St) as the most preferred separator and the Planters on Albert as the least preferred type of separators. Cyclists most preferred the Bollards on curb (Erb St and University) and least preferred Bollards on asphalt. Participants agree/and strongly agree with the having all the separators be the same type.   


Thank you very much for your participation and input!


 We need your input!

User feedback is critical, over the coming months we will continue to gather input and feedback from the users of the separated cycling network and those who interact with it as pedestrian, transit users, motorists, etc. A second online survey is being developed and will be ready in the next few months. We would appreciate your input on to help us to better understand how you would like to see this network revisited, revised or reviewed and future considerations on future promotion and outreach.

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