A walk from Waterloo to the University of Waterloo
Posted by Michael Druker on September 15, 2009
Waterloo is a small city that has owed much to the rise of the University of Waterloo over the last half century. Uptown Waterloo is the thriving, if small, downtown area. Waterloo has 100,000 residents and the University of Waterloo has 30,000 people. It’s less than 2 km between Uptown and the main UW campus. Let’s take a walk from one to the other.
That’s King Street in Uptown, viewed at William. We’re looking north.
Walking north to the new public square.
King St and Willis Way, parkade on right, square on left.
This is the new public square, with everyone’s favorite rusty bell. We cross the square.
Somewhere in here a path begins.
The path doesn’t last very long before we’re in a larger open space in front of the mall.
I guess the yellow line indicates the path. CIGI is the building up ahead.
Uh. This is not very nice. We need to go in the same directions as the rail, but we’re getting sidetracked.
Caroline and Erb is a large and unfriendly intersection. The one-way aspect does not make for the most pleasant drivers, and we need to cross twice. Not that anything makes clear that that’s where we need to go.
Here we’re on our cobblestone path. With some unfortunate raised path crossing ours.
Except that’s not even a path, just decoration. Though if it weren’t raised above the paving stone, I wouldn’t mind.
There are some treacherous points for cyclists.
The Perimeter Institute is on the right, and the paving stones change over to asphalt with a bump.
And just that quickly, the asphalt gives way to dirt.
Straight ahead is Waterloo Park. If we turn left here, we can get to Father David Bauer Drive, go through the woods or a parking lot, then across some fields, and over a dam that’s apparently not supposed to be used as a bridge. Then we walk along the edge of a large UW parking lot, cross both directions of often busy University Avenue, climb over a hill, and then end up at PAS and Hagey Hall. During the winter there are more obstacles. We’ll go straight.
Keep going straight.
It’s hard to see here, but there’s a nasty pothole in the dirt/gravel.
Behind the fences on the right are various animals, and so this section attracts many strollers.
Another dilemma. Somewhere to the left there is a path that goes through the woods and can empty out onto Seagram Drive, which doesn’t have a sidewalk. Also, we could cut through the parking lot, which is nice and level. But we’ll follow the proper path and go straight.
Which means we get to go down.
The asphalt slopes downwards to the left, for runoff to go into the creek. That probably means this isn’t the nicest spot in the rain.
This pipe has become a rather unpleasant bump for cyclists.
Now we get to come back up. Most cyclists seem to go through the parking lot instead. [Update: So do most pedestrians.]
The path continues on the other side of the road and the tracks.
This is Seagram Drive, which — for cars, cyclists, and lost pedestrians — leads to the main UW entrance. A sidewalk is sorely lacking here.
If we keep going straight, we’ll get to University Avenue, cross at a special light (or be impatient and jaywalk), and end up at the engineering and math buildings. But we’ll turn left, as that leads to ostensibly the main UW entrance.
This looks promising.
Welcome to UW parking lot A.
The yellow striped area is for crossing between adjacent parking lanes.
This is not a pedestrian friendly crossing.
This section scares me, as there is very little visibility around the corner and you need to traverse a lot of space.
This is University Avenue and Seagram Drive. It’s pretty clear now where UW is.
Future campus plans call for this being a grander entrance, with a large open path traversing the campus from here.
As it is, South Campus Hall stands in the way, and many people climb the stairs just to go through to the other side.
To get to the library (back right) and the science buildings, we can go instead along this path.
All parts of the above route are quite well-travelled throughout the year. And yet, the path from Uptown Waterloo to the University of Waterloo is haphazard and planned either poorly or not at all. The main things wrong are the inconsistent and poor quality surfaces — dirt is not acceptable for paths that get used by commuter cyclists; the lack of sidewalks along Seagram Drive; and the need to traverse a very large and busy parking lot. It also has very little signage, none of it useful to the casual passer-by. Considering that the walk is barely 20 minutes, and that it goes from a university campus to a reasonably fashionable downtown, there is every reason for this path to be made a deliberate and planned thoroughfare.