Shifting gears on cycling: 8 ways UWaterloo supports biking to work

—A guest post from the Sustainability Office.

Fall may be in full swing, but it feels like spring is in the air for cycling in Waterloo Region.

There is a growing push for cycling across the community, catalyzed by concerns for accessibility and safety, effective use of space, economic development, affordability, and climate change, just to name a few. New segregated bike lanes on King, Columbia, University, Queen, and Belmont are kicking off much-needed infrastructure transitions outlined in municipal policy and planning. Trail improvements through Waterloo Park and soon the Iron Horse are making for a more pleasant cycling experience. Bike racks and spaces on busses and the iON make multi-modal transportation more accessible.

Efforts have been building on campus as well. Waterloo has been expanding programs and services to make riding a bike a more convenient commuting option.

  1. All campus buildings have adjacent bike racks, some of which are covered (QNC, B1, ESC, and EIT, for example).
  2. Parking Services manages a secure bike locker program, and there is a new secure bike cage under construction between EV3 and ML!
  3. Police Services runs a program to register your bike, so they can better help return it to you if it is stolen.
  4. Cyclists can access an emergency ride home program, $75 per trip 4 times per year, to help with unexpected circumstances (unfortunately, weather doesn’t count!).
  5. If you only ride during the summer, you can suspend your parking permit and regain your spot when the winter weather returns.
  6. Better yet, employees can purchase transit passes for winter months at a 15% discount off the regular transit price (no minimum monthly commitment) so you can bike in fair weather and bus in the cold.
  7. Waterloo has piloted a bike sharing program in 2019 to make getting across campus more convenient.
  8. The Sustainability Office organizes events like Bike Month to recognize cyclists, provide free bike tune-ups from community partners, and offer prizes for logging bike trips.

Of course, these don’t address every barrier. Bike theft remains a challenge, which is why the new secure cage is a critical step forward. We hope the cage is a model that, through partnerships, can be replicated in additional areas of campus if there is demand.

And the University is certainly not an island. It is connected to the network of roads and trails leading to the campus, many of which lack robust cycling infrastructure. It is a familiar sight to come to the end of your bike lane or trail and have to merge into morning or afternoon traffic. Municipal improvements are accelerating, but there is still a lot to do.

Nevertheless, the efforts underway are already shifting the gears upward. Cycling is not just for veteran riders. Diverse members of the University community—from a wide range of ages and abilities—arrive on all types of bikes every day. We’ve put thank-you cards on thousands of bikes across campus, so we know! Efforts to improve infrastructure will continue to make it safer and more comfortable.

If you are curious, explore your options. Google and gotravelwise.ca can pull up routes and directions that optimize bike lanes and trails, including new infrastructure, and the Sustainability website has more information and links to the above services that can help.


Mat Thijssen is the University of Waterloo’s Sustainability Manager. He coordinates the University’s sustainability activities and efforts, in partnership with a broad range of stakeholders on and off campus

How to keep up with campus news

There’s a lot happening on campus. Here are a few ways to make sure you don’t miss anything.

1. Read the Daily Bulletin and listen to Beyond the Bulletin.

You can have this campus-wide update sent directly to your email every morning, and the accompanying podcast delivered directly to your podcast app every Friday. Beyond the Bulletin is available via RSS, Soundcloud, Apple Podcasts, and probably any other way you listen to your podcasts.

2. Follow newsletters.

Here are a few that we know of. Please link to any we missed in the comments!

Tip: Like newsletters but don’t want to add more to your inbox? Try using Unroll.me to collect all your newsletters into one email every day. Hint: don’t include emails from people, offices (or, say, faculty associations) that send you time-sensitive or important emails, because you won’t get those emails right away.

3. Follow RSS feeds

Every UWaterloo website has an RSS feed for its News, Events, and Blog sections. You can find the RSS link at the top of each of those pages.

4. Add events directly to your calendar

The “add to calendar” button

When you find an event you’re interested in, add it to your calendar with just a couple of clicks—no typing required! Look for the little calendar icon with a plus sign at the top of any event listing on any UWaterloo website. Click it to download an “.ics” file, which you can open with any calendar app. (Here are the instructions for Google Calendar.)

Want to add all of the events from a website to your calendar at once? Use the “Export” button at the top of the Events page of that site.

5. Subscribe to this blog!

If you haven’t yet, hit “subscribe” to get these posts in your inbox as they’re published.

People You Should Know: Amanda Cook, Sexual Violence Prevention and Response

Our “People You Should Know” blog series interviews key people and offices at the University of Waterloo so you can make the most of their services. 

Amanda Cook is the Director, Sexual Violence Prevention and Response at Waterloo. She supports all students, staff, and faculty on campus who have experienced, or been impacted by, sexual violence.

Why might faculty members be interested in your role?

For a couple of different reasons. If there are any faculty members who have survived sexual violence and would like to talk about resources that are available to them, any workplace accommodations that I can help facilitate, or any other way that I can support them—whatever that individual needs or wants—I am available for them.

And I also support faculty who receive disclosures. Sometimes it’s just to consult about something that they’ve become aware of, and sometimes they’re seeking to share information with or accompany a person who’s come forward to them.

What advice do you have for faculty who’ve had a student disclose an experience to them?

At the end of the day, it’s about meeting the person wherever they’re at and trying our hardest not to make it about ourselves. In an effort to be caring and compassionate, whether we’re conscious of it or not, we bring a bias about what we think a person should do, or what we would do in the same situation. The important thing is engaging in active listening and seeing what that person needs and then trying to bridge them to another support that can provide the safety or the resources they might need.

A lot of times folks minimize how much they’re impacted by caring about other people, but the stress that causes sits with you. That’s normal and there are supports for you.

What’s the most important thing you want faculty to know?

I think a lot of times folks minimize how much they’re impacted by caring about other people, but the stress that causes, trying to coordinate and figure stuff out for students, it sits with you for a while. Even if the student’s not doing anything, you as a holder of that information might have some difficulty moving forward. So just know that that’s normal and there are supports for you if you need that.

Also that there is no wrong question. I’ve had faculty just consult with me about what they could tell somebody if they come forward, hypothetically. I’m happy to work within hypotheticals.

Continue reading “People You Should Know: Amanda Cook, Sexual Violence Prevention and Response”

People You Should Know: Charmaine Dean, VP Research & International

Our “People You Should Know” blog series interviews key people and offices at the University of Waterloo so you can make the most of their services. 

Charmaine Dean, VP Research and International

Charmaine Dean is Waterloo’s Vice President, Research & International. She started at Waterloo in 2017 and is responsible for two distinct offices—the Office of Research and Waterloo International.

Research & International is a big portfolio—what does your role involve?

The Office of Research encompasses a number of portfolios, including commercialization, ethics, grants and prestigious awards, centres and institutes, and large research programs such as FedDev and Canada Research Chairs.

I am also responsible for several new portfolios, including interdisciplinary research, and equity, diversity and inclusion in research. In addition, I am the first point of research-related contact for external communities including the Tri-Agencies; Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED); and ministers’ offices.

Half of my time is spent on internally facing initiatives and issues, while the other half is allocated to externally facing needs. I sit on 20 Boards of Directors (as Chair for six of the boards) related to research initiatives at Waterloo, as well as a number of boards, councils, committees, and advisory groups for partners and government, and some related to my research.

Waterloo International encompasses international agreements and partnerships; international experiences for faculty, staff, and students, and building a strong international profile.

Why might faculty be interested in your role?

One of the key elements of my role is to ensure that research at Waterloo is understood and supported by government and industry. Part of my mandate is to drive research forward within Canada in order to guide policy, as well as to continue building a profile for Waterloo research internationally. For faculty, I would like them to know that my door is always open to hear about their research and successes, and to help ensure their work leads to valuable impact.

Continue reading “People You Should Know: Charmaine Dean, VP Research & International”

People You Should Know: Linda Brodgen, Occupational Health

Our “People You Should Know” blog series interviews key people and offices at the University of Waterloo so you can make the most of their services. 

Linda Brogden is a University of Waterloo Occupational Health Nurse. Among other things, Occupational Health helps employees manage the impact of illness on their work. We interviewed Linda to make sure faculty know about the important support available at Occupational Health.

What services does Occupational Health provide to faculty? 

Occupational Health (OH) helps faculty—and all employees—with sick leave and medical accommodations.

Any absence of five or more continuous days requires medical documentation. OH can receive that documentation so that a faculty member’s department doesn’t need to see it directly. We also help faculty set up accommodations, which are adjustments to job duties because of a medical condition (e.g., tenure extensions, reduced loads). And sometimes sick leave cases are referred to an external provider, such as absences longer than four weeks without a definite return to work date, or when the University requires external expertise to assess a case. Occupational Health can help navigate all of these processes, and act as a confidential liaison between an employee and their department if needed. (See page 6 of the Disability Management Guide (PDF) for more information.)

We also promote both physical and psychological health and safety in the workplace and can provide information about and referrals to our Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) at 1-800-663-1142. 

What is the most important thing you want faculty to know about visiting Occupational Health? 

The importance of seeking help early on in any illness. Having a chat with an OH nurse about your particular situation may help provide solutions for early intervention. We provide support to all employees with any health-related needs that may be affecting their ability to safely and successfully perform their jobs. All information provided to us, whether in writing or verbally, is maintained in strict confidence. 

Continue reading “People You Should Know: Linda Brodgen, Occupational Health”

People You Should Know: Lori Campbell, Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre

Our “People You Should Know” blog series interviews key people and offices at the University of Waterloo so you can make the most of their services. 

Lori Campbell is a 2-Spirit nēhiyaw atāpihtāwikosisān iskwew. Okawiya mōniyawi-sākahikanihk, Treaty 6 territory in kīwētinohk kisiskāciwan ohcīw. (Translation: a 2-Spirit Cree-Métis woman. Her mother is from Montreal Lake First Nation, Treaty 6 territory in northern Saskatchewan.) She’s the Director of Shatitsirótha’ Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre (WISC), which is located at St. Paul’s University College at the west end of the campus. We interviewed Lori to help you better understand her role and how it relates to yours.

What does your role involve?

The Centre provides a range of services for Indigenous-identifying students and leads educational opportunities for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, staff, faculty, and administration.

The academic support part of my role includes providing strategic direction on Indigenous education; developing an Indigenous student recruitment strategy; building relationships with internal and external stakeholders; and developing Indigenous academic programming and an Indigenous research agenda.

Why might faculty members be interested in what you do?

Our centre is a refuge for engaging and supporting relationships among faculty, students and staff at the University of Waterloo and in the Indigenous community. We initiate, celebrate, and support cultural and academic events that promote respect, research, relationship building, and reconciliation.

Continue reading “People You Should Know: Lori Campbell, Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre”

People You Should Know: Mat Thijssen, Sustainability Office

Our “People You Should Know” blog series interviews key people and offices at the University of Waterloo so you can make the most of their services. 

Mat Thijssen is the University of Waterloo’s Sustainability Manager. We interviewed him last fall to get to know the Sustainability Office better and talk about how faculty can contribute to sustainability at Waterloo.

Mat, what does the Sustainability Office do?

The Sustainability Office strives to implement Waterloo’s Environmental Sustainability Strategy, working in partnership with offices across campus to build sustainability into how the University operates, our daily actions, and our academic mission. We provide expertise and training, support engagement efforts and collaboration around sustainability, and monitor and report on our progress. As Sustainability Manager, I oversee these efforts.

How do faculty fit in?

I often work with faculty members to give class lectures relevant to a course, provide data to or be interviewed by students for course projects, and even identify large class or group projects through the Living Lab, which is under development. Faculty also often ask us about actions they can take personally and professionally to be more sustainable on a day-to-day basis. Editor’s note: you can find such actions in the Sustainability Guide (PDF) released by the Sustainability Office in 2018.

Continue reading “People You Should Know: Mat Thijssen, Sustainability Office”