Organizers looking at race using roads around Hawkesville, but Sunday date raises some concerns for council
Can Wellesley’s Sunday horse-and-buggy traffic coexist with a bike race? Wellesley councillors faced this question on Tuesday, when Cycle Waterloo announced plans to bring its annual KW Classic O-Cup race to Hawkesville.
The event, typically held in Kitchener, is expected to bring 500 cyclists and another 400 spectators, and council is looking at ways to integrate them with the township’s well-trafficked roads.
In a presentation, Cycle Waterloo executive members Malcolm Steven and Blake Ellis described the 11-kilometre route, proposed for June 8, 2014. Beginning and ending at the Hawkesville Community Centre, an expected 500 riders in eight age/gender-divided races will ride south to Ament line, east to Three Bridges Road (edging into Woolwich), north to Hemlock Hill Drive, and past Broadway Street.
Steven went on to describe the logistics of the event, noting the organization had received an “amber light” from the Region of Waterloo on the use of Ament Line. Steven suggested a “yellow line” solution (dividing the road between racers and traffic), and traffic management safety plans (including first-aid and on-site ambulances).
Steven also assured council that the group would seek community support, getting in touch with local churches and residents in advance of the event to ensure awareness.
Coun. Shelley Wagner raised concerns of how one lane of traffic could accommodate both cars and horse-and-buggies, the latter of which could be plentiful due to Sunday religious services.
Wagner also noted that Ament Line is busy on Sundays with travellers returning from cottages. When asked if the event could be moved to Saturday, Steven and Ellis called the possibility unlikely, given that all O-Cup races are held on Sundays.
Mayor Ross Kelterborn said Wagner’s concerns were well taken.
“In past bicycle events, I have had calls about the problems between traffic and horse-and-buggies. … Horses don’t always just stand there and do what they’re told.
“It was mainly from the car drivers that I heard the complaints. The horses are in a lineup, they’re very close together, and there start to be problems,” he said.
“My suggestion would be: you’re going to put [notice] in the paper. … I would suggest that everybody receive, in the mail, a sheet of paper indicating [the time and date], especially the people that are going to churches and so on.”
This would include residents of the roads used during the race, as well as other residents of the areas in question, he suggested.
Ellis confirmed this was standard practice.
The possibility of rerouting roads was also raised at the meeting, but no definite plans were made. Hawkesville recreation service board chair Dan Bender said he would work with Cycle Waterloo to bring the event to the attention of Old Order Mennonite churches well in advance.
The KW Classic O-Cup race is one of three annual events organized by Cycle Waterloo (including the Tour de Waterloo and the Woolwich-based Steaming Nostril), with the Grand River Hospital Foundation and K-W Counselling as major charity partners. Though usually held in Kitchener’s Hidden Valley district, that area was deemed too heavy with traffic.
This will be Cycle Waterloo’s second year organizing the KW Classic since taking over from past organizer Brad May. They hope to make Hawkesville a long-term location of three to five years.