Laurier Avenue Cycling Lane
Cycling safety has been in the news lately. One cycling-related trial has just finished, another is about to start, and the province’s Chief Coroner has announced a province-wide inquiry into cycling safety.
The City of Ottawa opened its first downtown cycling lane this year on Laurier Avenue. The city has needed this for a long time. Most cycling in Ottawa is along recreational paths built by the National Capital Commission (NCC) in the 1980’s. They tend to meander along waterways and were designed for family-oriented recreation rather than commuters. Anyone wanting to cut through Ottawa’s small downtown core had to dance with the traffic.
The photo above shows the approach to Laurier Avenue. Traffic and cyclists are merging from both the left and right sides of the median, and both streams are crossing lanes depending on their destination. Bicycle icons are stenciled into the pavement in the middle lane to remind everyone where cyclists are expected. This looks like a bit of a mish-mash but it seems to work surprisingly well.
This is the start of the bike lane. It features a low curb to separate cyclists from cars, with breaks in the concrete to provide access to laneways and parking lots. The curb ends have blue-and-white striped marker posts for visibility. Where there is an extended break in the curb red marker posts have been installed. You can see a couple of these in the distance in the photo above.
The pavement at intersections is coloured green to remind right-turning motorists they are crossing a cycling lane. The bike lanes run in both directions on either side of the street. Parking is allowed on one side of the street outside the bike lane. They altered which side of the street parking is allowed on block by block.
I think that the city has done a good job here. They had a lot of competing interests to satisfy and a lot of NIMBY resistance to overcome. My impression is that the lane has not overly inconvenienced drivers and it is certainly safer for cyclists. The greatest danger now is from passengers being dropped off who step into the cycling lane without looking first.
On a different commuting note, here is a photo of “The Cage”. It is in the basement parking garage of the building in which The Firm has its offices. It is a locked indoors facility for tenants to lock up their bikes. It’s another example of the small things that make cycling so much more convenient.