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.

Laurier Approach Coming off Laurier Bridge

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.

Laurier Cycling Lane Start of bike lane

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.

Laurier Intersection Intersections

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.

The Cage The Cage

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.

6 comments on “Laurier Avenue Cycling Lane”

  1. Chris wrote:

    In the nearest city to where I live the (Labour) council in the 1990s spent quite a bit of money on what are often called cycling facilities and, on the whole, I think they did a good job. That doesn't stop people moaning about cycling lanes etc. You can't please everyone, I suppose.

    I really wouldn't fancy coming off Laurier Bridge with that lane on my right, but I imagine culture helps a lot here, does it? I think I like the idea of the low kerb, but having cycled in to a car door that opened as I passed I know that you still have to be on your guard.

    Where I work there are to be remodelling works done over the next few years. I should have made suggestions a while ago, but I do hope there will be showers. And covered cycle sheds.

  2. Patrick wrote:

    I agree Kern – it's a good job. More of the same to follow, I hope (and that is from someone who is a bike lane skeptic). A resulting increase in cyclists too. Do they actually have right-of-way at the merging and the green strip at the intersection?

    I must say the city of Ottawa looks very pleasant. That is also remembering your 'commute' photos from some time back.

  3. Mary wrote:

    Love the bike basement! Oh how I can dream.....

    In our towns we dont even have sheffield rails to tie your bike to. I have to find railing, seats, and other such objects to chain up against.

    What makes me smile more is that not even our local bike shops have some where to put ya bike when you custom their shop. But they do have car parks! An upside down world.

    To me city cycling is to be avoided, but personally I dont get the practice and this makes a difference I think.

  4. Kern wrote:

    Yes, The Cage was a real eye opener. I worked more than a year in the building before I discovered it.

    The merge at the meridian looks worse than it is. The traffic coming from the right has just made a very sharp turn under the bridge (120 degrees) and has traffic lights plus a pedestrian crosswalk in front of them, so they cruise into the merge very carefully.

    Yes, cyclists have the right of way at the green strip (in theory, anyway).

    "Pleasant" is a very good description of Ottawa. It's better thought of as a really big town rather than a city. It was a good place to raise kids. They may have thought it boring compared to the hustle and bustle of Toronto, but two of them are still here and the third is in Ireland, so it can't have been too bad :).

  5. Hilary wrote:

    They look like good facilites, a kerb offers a bit of protection and stops the cars from using it or parking in it as they tend to do here. The cage is a great idea, I've not seen anything like that before.

  6. b wrote:

    come ride in los angele

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