Creating dynamic infrastructure that works

A sweltering Open Streets in the Public Square.

A sweltering Open Streets in the Public Square.

It's summer holidays, so I'm driving my car a lot more than usual to get my kids to summer camps. It turns out that even a 10-minute trip can be revealing.

Head along Albert Street near University and you'll inevitably veer around a truck blocking a lane in front of a high-rise. It's not a big hassle (unless you're a cyclist), but it begs the question: why aren't developments automatically required to include a spot for a truck to unload furniture or for a taxi to pull up outside?

I'm not alone in the challenges of getting around. Uptowner and cycling advocate Scott Weldon's daughter had a near-miss with a pickup truck while cycling on the King Street bike lanes recently. He posted photos online and sparked a lively discussion. (Read the thread here.)

Meanwhile, most of our parks remain a no-go zone for my kids on hot summer days due to the lack of shade, and few people brave the midday sun to soak up the excellent noon programming in the Waterloo Public Square. Shade sails would go a long way toward helping both situations.

These are often matters that can be anticipated if you plan with residents in mind.

That's not to say this is an easy fix. As with the King Street bike lanes -- the subject of many City consultations with groups, designers, other cities, and users -- the final product can end up highlighting new and unexpected issues. But the City, and City councillors, need to make the effort in the planning stages, and be dynamic in responding to issues raised by the community after implementation

As outgoing Ward 7 Councillor Melissa Durrell explained on CBC KW on Thursday, education and learning are key parts of infrastructure development: education of users, and learning for City development. So is enforcement.

I look forward to seeing all three in action as cycling lanes and other forms of infrastructure continue to evolve.

[NOTE: This post was updated to reflect the CBC interview. I'll post a link when that interview is recapped online.]