WATgreen Advisory Committee Meeting

Minutes of the meeting held Thursday, December 11, 1997.

PRESENT:    Paul Eagles, Patti Cook, Roydon Fraser, Ian Fraser, Hamish Duthie, Dennis Huber, James Kay, Donna Schell.

1.   Special presentation by Colin Mayfield on the Community Intranet Program:

Colin Mayfield presented his Community Networks and Community Environmental Monitoring project. The university can "adopt" a campus environmental feature (stream, lake, river, wetland, forest, etc.) and carry out simple environmental monitoring. Water quality tests, species occurrence, vegetation, appearance, etc., are aspects of the environmental features that can be monitored and reported by students. It was suggested that the project could be applied at the university, with students collecting the data.

2.   Update on the Turf Grass Maintenance Action Plan - Tom Galloway:

The plan to reduce the use of pesticides began in 1993. The university was spraying 50 acres. The maintenance plan has been to reduce the area being sprayed by 10 acres per year. In 1997 only 10 acres were sprayed. The areas that are still sprayed are the sport fields (for safety reasons for sporting events) and the hard surfaces (asphalt, sidewalks, curbs, gutters). The numbers of when and where spraying has occurred is available through Tom Galloway.

The Turf Grass Maintenance Action Plan was predicated on cultural practices being increased and on changing the equipment used. Tom Galloway provided us with information on the equipment that is required to maintain turf without pesticide use (rotary mower to replace reel mower, coring tines on aerator to replace slicing blades, Tycrop material handler for topdressing large areas, 4 rotary riding movers and 2 walkbehind rotary mowers). The equipment was just purchased last year, which makes the target of no pesticide use in 1998 possible in a few more years (2000).

Plant Operations is expanding the naturalized areas (parking lot A, the Villages, etc.), they are experimenting with a wildflower seedbed between ECH gravel lot and the path from Philip street, and where there are pathway convergence’s, they will be planting groundcovers. Competing interests make the change gradual for acceptance reasons (i.e. the 2nd reason students chose a university is physical appearance). The acceptance of a more natural appearance is gradually is a slow public process.

James Kay asked if there was a historical record of spraying and of naturalization of the campus? And if not, it may be a good idea to do, as there is a vast difference between the perception of spraying and the actual spraying on campus.

Chris Redmond could be notified of the spraying through the Daily Bulletin, with an explanation of what and where is being sprayed. This could be linked to the historical record and information on pesticide spraying.

3.   Bike Presentations:

- Andrea Russell and Jason Whitfield - 285 project
- Mark Stutman - 4th year thesis findings

Andrea Russell and Jason Whitfield outlined the results of their 285 project survey. The components of their survey included: facilities, storage, bike racks, showers, lighting, paths (on and off campus) and roadways (on and off campus).

The key areas of concern indicated by respondents (including staff, faculty and students) were:

  1. Separate bike lanes off campus 58%
  2. Better snow removal of routes on campus 56%
  3. Improve road conditions (potholes, etc.) 55%
  4. Better lighting on campus trails 54%
  5. Increased surveillance to reduce bike theft 52%
  6. Develop bike routes throughout campus 51%
  7. Separate bike lanes on Ring Road 51%
When the "Somewhat Important" answers are included, the results change somewhat to:

  1. Separate bike lanes off campus 74%
  2. Increased surveillance to reduce bike theft 74%
  3. Separate bike lanes on Ring Road 72%
  4. More on campus storage for bicycles 70%
The accident reports uncovered two main problems: speed of the cyclist (40-50%) and ignorance as to maintenance of bikes (no front brakes, "quick-release" wheel not done up tight enough).

Estimates on the percent of the university population which ride to campus was about 35%, or 5,000 to 10,000, with the number dropping dramatically in the winter (7% or 3000 riders), but the respondents indicated they would ride in the winter if there were improved safety (i.e. snow removal and bike paths/lanes).

The solutions summary: bike paths with no pedestrians, improved security (centralized lockups with no other bike racks, camera surveillance), improved road conditions, leave bike racks in and do not pile snow on bike racks.

The committee comments included: designated bike lanes - a great idea on campus, central lockup areas - a great idea from a maintenance point of view, not a great idea from a convenience point of view, what enforcement measures are suggested? - security would put a coloured lock on bikes in incorrect locations, and person must come the security and pay the fine to get the lock removed, as well as the camera surveillance would deter thieves.

Mark Stutman's presentation focused on bicycle security at UW. His figures from his survey (to undergrads only-131 cyclists and 47 non-cyclists) suggest that 40% of undergrads cycle-commute to campus at least 20% of the time (3000/day in the winter, and 8000/day in the summer, spring and fall).

Mark went over the history of conflict between cyclists and the UW administration concerning bringing bikes into buildings, citing the fact that there is no 'explicit' policy on banning bikes from buildings, only the UW Parking Services regulations which state: “Bicycles shall be operated on roadways and pathway only and with due care and caution, in observance of all traffic regulations. a) bicycles shall be parked only in bicycle racks." There is also the letter from Jim Kalbfleisch re-stating that bikes are not allowed in buildings. There have been 520 bikes thefts since 1993. Bike security devices are divided into 3 categories: 1, 2 and 3. Category 1 in a completely enclosed, lockable unit. Category 2 is a higher security bike rack, one that would lock the frame of the bike and both wheels, considered good for short-term parking (2 hours). Category 3 is bike rack that locks the frame and one wheel (like what we have on campus now). One problem with the bike racks at present, is that the do not fit mountain bike wheels.

The results of the data collection on the question of the most beneficial improvements based on the 3 most applicable reasons, were:

Other results included: 65% of bicyclists surveyed, ride regularly at night, but only 50% are more fearful of theft at night. Fifty-nine % would cycle more often if high-quality, secure, weather-safe bicycle parking were available, and 47% would be willing to pay an average of $8.20/month.

Recommendations included a long-term comprehensive bike plan looking at bikeways, links to City bike paths, a bike program coordinator, short-term Vs long-term bike racks, multiple classes of storage, coin-operated bike storage for movement around campus, looking at one location Vs many locations.

Questions by the Committee included: compared to the University assets, the vandalism is very low, it seems to be a very safe campus? It was stated that bike theft is very organized, unlike car theft, and it is very easy to steal bike parts, rather than car parts. The second most common reason people don’t bike was listed as road conditions, what are safe road conditions? Safe biking, according to the Region, is when there is no car. The students replied that safe road conditions for the winter, begin with safe road conditions in the summer, including no potholes, no snow at the side of the roads. The Regional Master Plan could be instrumental in addressing issues, but have not committed to provide safe road conditions for bikes. The City of Kitchener and the Region are involved in transportation master planning, there are 1000's of cyclists, which provides a strong argument for providing parking for the good portion of the population who are biking. The safety issue of not mixing pedestrians with cyclists is a very real issue. Perhaps, clusters - bikes in certain areas only? Cars generate a revenue, which goes back into university academic programs, would cyclists pay for parking? There are about 5000 parking spaces for cars. How many for bikes?

It was suggested that perhaps a planning Committee (much like the Task Force on Turf Grass Maintenance) be struck to look at the bike issue, to integrate plans with the Region and City, to include Plant Operations, and other stakeholders. Dennis Huber will consider this option, as it is not a small project, and would require a great deal of staff time. The Committee would like to see a planning process (on and off-campus) on bicycle/transportation begin on campus.

4.    Approval of minutes:

Minutes of the October 3, 1997 meeting were approved.

5.   Bicycle Management Plan Update:

Paul Eagles recommended a formal master plan be made for bicycles on and off campus. Discussion ensued with agenda item #3 (bike presentations).

6.   285 Project Ideas:

- campus database - Colin Mayfield offered his database. - James Kay would like ideas from Plant Operations and Health & Safety. - energy monitoring system

7.    Other Business:

7.   Next Meeting:

Thursday, February 12, 9 - 11 a.m., NH Room 3043.

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Last updated: February 25, 1998 plc