My Bike Lane RANT - Ira Needles

So what were they possibly thinking when they designed the bike lanes on Ira Needles Boulevard?

Let’s build some bike lanes on the wide straight simple part of the road and then when you get to the difficulty turning circles have them end. That way the cyclist is screwed and forced to merge repeatedly in and out of the moving traffic as you head down the road.

I fail to see any logic in this design other then the cyclists are supposed to dismount and walk at every turning circle - which is just ridiculous.

I had another incident on Ira today where while in the circle going around a motorist ahead of me in the lane decides to slam on the brakes and stop because they are confused. Just keep driving!

As far as I am concerned from a safe cycling perspective the whole think needs to be torn up and redone. I have become quite adept at riding a bike along here, but I cannot see any new cyclists wanting to go anywhere near this and safely negotiating this road.

RANT over.


I don’t think there is any thinking involved given the terrible cycling infrastructure that gets built in the region.


Sadly I agree :frowning: I live in the south end of Kitchener and now I take Fisher Hallman up to the north for rides as it seems more predictable with the bike lane and signalled intersections.

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Yes Fischer-Hallman is a much nicer riding experience and I also like using Queen Street for East-West in Kitchener.

The Roundabouts are a complete failure for bikes though and as more of them are being built they need to figure this out. I have seen some videos how they do it in the Netherlands, but that is very expensive and our governments just will not pay to do things right the first time, so now we have a mess.


I actually sent a video to the city of how the Dutch roundabouts work. Makes ours looks like the death traps that they are.


I totally agree regarding roundabouts. A cyclist has two choices. Go up onto the sidewalk/crosswalk or merge into the right lane with traffic. The city seems to be ambiguous on this. They provide ramps to go onto the sidewalk. However, for an experienced cyclist the best option can be to merge into the lane and take the full lane through the roundabout. The city paints a dotted line prior to the roundabout presumably encouraging us to do this too. Merging has to be done well in advance though and not at the last second. Bottom line is that there is no clear and consistent way a cyclist should approach. This leaves motorists not knowing what to expect and reinforcing their feeling that they own the road.


I really like how the dutch roundabouts have room for a car to be off the circle and wait for bikes/pedestrians.

I never understood why ira needles has the bike lane end and force a merge with traffic before the circle…was the extra metre of diameter of the traffic circle that much more cost and effort? I mean look at the size of the island in the centre, surely that could have been reduced to accommodate a bike lane around the outer perimeter.
I’m really sad about the situation with the new Columbia road bike lane too. Nice bike lane till you hit a roundabout.


This would be dangerous for people on bikes who wanted to do a left or U turn.

I would like the people on bikes to have right of way to merge into traffic at roundabouts. Unfortunately, that too would likely dangerous as it is non-standard.

Like Drew said, for busy roundabouts you need to merge early as drivers of motorised vehicles commonly won’t let you in.

If I remember correctly, the roundabout at Chancery Lane and Columbia is more like the Dutch roundabouts. If you follow the bike lane it takes you away from the road and there are bear paws for cyclists to legally ride across Chancery. You do lose momentum though. There is also a separate space for pedestrians to cross.

As someone who follows the rules fairly strictly, I’m happy to see more bear paws showing up in the region. :smiley:


Interesting. I will have to check that one out on Columbia St.

Part of the problem is the lack of consistency. They need to figure out a good plan and implement it everywhere.

On Ira Needles I merge over and take possesion of the car lane well before the circles. Being very careful that cars see me and I can move over safely. Usually this works but some cars just freak out when you do this.

I just looked on Google maps to see the bears paws on Columbia, thats good. I must say I never thought about going to the pedestrian crossing on Columbia.

I noticed heading west it is good, but heading east the bike lane does not have a transition to the footpath, (ok there is a transition for the part that looks like a bus stop with the tactile paving almost block before the circle). But the bike lane continues after that and then merges to traffic.
Back to the confusion causing inconsistency Steven mentioned.
It’s like the designer did it well on one side then said let’s make them guess what to do when they come the opposite direction.

I find it frustrating when the city shows they can do something a good way, but in the same project does something different.

I see a difference between making it easy to go straight and making it perfect for getting all the way around. As a car driver I don’t turn left from the right lane. Same thing when on my bike. I’m not saying a bike lane would be a perfect situation for getting safely around the roundabout, but it could allow a safer way to go straight or right.

I’ve had too many issues on Ira needles. The worst was a driver yelling at me it is the law to be in the bike lane on the short 100m stretch near the boardwalk, I had tailwind and was going close to 60kmhr.

The “dutch inspired roundabout” on I think Huron shows regional engineers in a really bad light. I’ve only ridden it in the dark but it is set up as if cyclists have priority when they legally don’t.

There really are only two solutions to roundabouts with separate multi use paths. Either a dutch type roundabout that requires significant MTO law changes or underpasses that fully separate active transportation. Unfortunately regional engineers have attempted to reinvent the wheel by taking portions of dutch design and fitting them into a NA style of infrastructure. Multi-lane highways with obstructed views and crossings next to them are just dangerous, the assumption that drivers will slow down for for tighter circles clearly doesn’t work.

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You touched on what I believe the main issue is here.
The circles are meant to be taken at a speed where you’re slow enough to react to anything that comes up. A pedestrian, a car stopped suddenly, etc. The region has designed the roundabouts in such a way that you can take them at almost full speed. Add in some greenery in the middle of the circle and you’re now whipping around at full speed without seeing/knowing what’s on the other side (yet).

I haven’t done any fact checking on this, but I’m assuming most pedestrians accidents occur on the exit lane of the circle rather than the entry. Drivers speed around, not seeing what’s ahead, a pedestrian starts to cross the last half, and as the car comes round the circle, has to brake heavily to avoid hitting the crosser, or rear ends a car that has already stopped for the ped-x’er.

Perhaps the region should focus on slowing the circle entry speed (via speed bumps, rumble strips, angle of entry, etc) and perhaps even removing view obstructing greenery in the centre of the circles. We as a province are clearly not ready to, nor responsible enough to fully embrace euro style roundabouts.

I drive out to the HydroCut along Ira Needles 4 or 5 times a week. I see close calls where someone was either almost killed or a car rear ended, just about every single time. It’s become a game with my wife and I. We get excited the further along our drive we go without witnessing an incident, but then inevitably, someone does something stupid and ruins the streak. Drivers in Ontario and this region are absolutely terrible and it is only getting worse. It’d be nice if there was some actual standards one had to make and keep up before getting that little blue license to kill.

This combined with the other generally shitty behaviour of people during COVID have me questioning why I even bother to live in this province.


Growing up with roundabouts, I would say that they are really poorly designed which is coupled with poor driver standards and morals. Riding through one roundabout near me regularly I guess I have a 60% success rate of no incidents.

The region seems to think the tight circles are slowing drivers down and the greenery is supposed to help this. In reality people race through them and it is really hard to stop for pedestrians in time. They seem to be a hybrid dutch/UK design. It takes the idea of slow small circles from the dutch and throws in UK style push the traffic through.

I would say the region is getting better at design of active transportation, but the MTO isn’t helping. Ira needles in general seems like an experiment gone wrong, it was billed as helping the urban feeling by having buildings on the roadside, yet it is still has masses of parking and is on a road that is really unfriendly for anything but driving. Simple things like a underpass at Glasgow next to the rail tracks would make it so much safer, given it is next to the hydrocut and connects a trail it makes too much sense.



Steve that pretty much sums them up.

Trying to drive and make a left tonight was near impossible due to the speeds and lack of signalling :frowning:

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Seriously, I say send our city planners to Denmark where they respect cyclists (for evey car there is 2 million bikes!) and let them take in the beauty that is a Danish roundabout…mmmmm…look at those great bike lanes.

I ride our roundabouts as if that outside circumference has a bike lane like that Danish one.

I see the Danes still have the view obstructing centre island…and that one is very…er… German circa 1938 in design? :grimacing:


Yes, you can do that but since it is not actually a bike lane and just an imaginary one you are riding cars will not respect it. Cyclist who are not confident will also not do this or just be confused or intimidated - so that does not work.

I prefer to merge left and take over the whole car lane to avoid a situation where a car could tryto pass me very close while negotiating around the circle. An imaginary bike lane just does not work. It needs to actually be built to provide any form of safety.

P.S. took me a sec to get the “German” reference :slight_smile:

Fair. I’m probably more that way in many cases. I guess it depends on the scene and what I feel is best. What I do know…is I don’t pretend it’s a keirin! (Roundabouts are just small velodromes!) :joy:

If you don’t take the lane in a roundabout in Ontario it is a matter of time before your hit. It is less to do with design and more driver education/entitlement. There are a few where riding the outside might work but eventually someone comes along who has no idea how to operate a moving death trap.

Last night at a park in a 40 zone directly across from a park I hear screeching tires. this was followed by a fool in a BMW ranting and raving about how the guy in-front of him was driving too slow and is in some nondescript way ruining his day, the fact they were 50 meters from a stop sign and said driver parked 3 foot from the curb was beyond him. This behaviour is why only appropriate separation in roundabouts, better enforcement or a redesign to force slower speeds is required,