I am a huge proponent of active transportation, but I realize that issues of safety can be a real concern, which often comes up in the comments sections of my cycling-related posts. When I ask people the one thing that would make them more likely to commute by bicycle, by far the most common response is segregated bike lanes. Of which Ottawa has exactly zero.
But that may be changing, as a new pilot project is considering putting a segregated bike lane on Laurier Avenue. I repeat, the City of Ottawa is considering placing a segregated bike lane on one of the major East-West streets running through downtown. This is terrific news! But it’s not a done deal, and there is a public meeting tonight (Nov 25) at 6:30pm at City Hall (110 Laurier Avenue West) to discuss the bike lane.
I was first alerted to this new project by my friend and labmate Zach Ferraro, who noticed signs downtown advertising the meeting, as well as written comments from people opposed to the new bike lane. Why? The new bike lane will displace some parking spots. It sounds like the city is trying to rectify this by opening up spots that were previously off limits during much of the day, but this is still a concern for some who need to park downtown on a regular basis. This is a reasonable concern, but I personally feel it pales in comparison to the concern I have for the health and safety of cyclists, especially in a city which suffers numerous fatal and non-fatal collisions every year, including several (e.g. here, here and here) involving cyclists riding in non-segregated bike lanes.
I urge everyone with an interest in cycling or active transportation in the Ottawa-Gatineau area to attend the meeting, and to spread the word as much as possible. I have embedded a pdf of the poster advertising the meeting below (email subscribers can view the pdf on the blog itself), so feel free to download it and pass it around. Once again, the meeting is at 6:30 pm in the City Hall Rotunda on Nov 25 (tonight!). Hopefully people can make it on short notice!
Also, Happy American Thanksgiving!