I have lived the majority of my life in Kingston and have relied on my bicycle as a main means of transportation since I was old enough to ride on the road. Over the course of those 35 plus years, cycling in Kingston has really changed. Unfortunately the changes have not been for the better until recently. Increased traffic volume, motorist being increasing impatient and deteriorating road conditions have all contributed to a more hostile environment for cyclists to navigate.
Luckily change for the better started to happen a few years ago.
The past few years have seen the following changes to the cycling climate in Kingston:
In 2004 the addition of the Rack and Roll bicycle racks on City of Kingston buses. Initially this was a seasonal program but in 2013 it was extended to a year round program with the construction of a new heated indoor storage facility for Kingston Transit buses. The Rack and Roll program allows Kingston cyclists more options when it comes to using their bikes. Riding one direction of a trip and busing the other or simply cutting out a portion of a commute without a safe riding route are just some examples of how cyclists can take advantage of this program.
In 2007 the City of Kingston resurfaced the K&P Trail from Dalton Ave to Orser Rd creating a 15km stretch of gravel trail separated from traffic. In 2012 the County of Frontenac extended this resurfacing further north providing a smooth gravel bed all the way to Harrowsmith. In 2014 we saw this extended again to Verona. The long term plan is to have this trail run all the way from Kingston to Sharbot Lake. Kingston City Council is currently debating extending the trail from Dalton Ave to Division St with a long term plan of connecting it to downtown.
As a result of this new commitment to sustainability Kingston won Bike-Friendly Community Bronze recognition in 2012 from the Share the Road Cycling Coalition for investing in its cycling infrastructure.
In 2013 Share the Road paint and signs were added across the Lasalle Causeway. This is likely one of the most dangerous stretches of road for cyclists in Kingston due to the metal construction of the Causeway and how narrow it is. The added safety this has provided is so hard to measure as there is just no way to know how many close encounters and near misses were happening prior to their installation.
The brutal winter of 2013-14 turned into a blessing in disguise for Kingston's cyclists. The spring of 2014 saw the investment in some major road work resurfacing projects that helped eliminate some of the worst road surface hazards in Kingston. The potholes are not all gone but their numbers have been drastically reduced.
Bicycle lanes have been appearing on a growing list of streets. Included in the list are some major arteries such as Union St, Johnson St, Brock St, Portsmouth Ave, Queen Mary Rd, Bath Rd, and most recently Princess St with more lanes to be added this spring.
Most recently the launch of the Kingston Police Force's Bike Watch Program and the Queen's Bike Registration program for faculty and students will help reconnect Kingston's cyclists with their bikes in the event of theft.
In addition to all of these infrastructure improvements I have personally observed a change in behavior of motorists toward cyclists in our community. It is now the rare occasion when I am not treated with respect by a motorist while riding in the city or out on a training ride around Kingston. I have in fact on multiple occasions been offered the right of way at a four way stop when I was clearly not the first to arrive at that stop.
Hopefully as we continue to move toward being a cycling friendly community more residents will decide to incorporate cycling into their lifestyle in some form.