City Chose ‘Less Safe’ O’Connor Bike Option: CBC


This certainly adds a new twist to the bike-lane dispute in Ottawa:

The City of Ottawa bypassed the advice of international consultants when designing the O’Connor Street bikeway in order to make more room for cars, choosing an option the firm described as “less safe” for cyclists.

In the first three weeks since its opening, there were three reported collisions between bicycles and vehicles in the section of the bike lane stretching from Laurier Avenue to the Queensway.

To read the full CBC Ottawa story, click here.



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5 thoughts on “City Chose ‘Less Safe’ O’Connor Bike Option: CBC

  1. This is news to me! Just a short time ago, Ken and I were debating which experts the city should hire to advise on city bike lanes (I favoured Danish; while Ken was for Finnish). But it turns out that the city had already done such a study, namely they had hired consultants (Mobycon Concordis, a Dutch consulting company specializing in integrating cycling and pedestrian routes with city streets) to evaluate the potential designs for an O’Connor bike route.

    According to Joanne Chianello’s (CBC Ottawa) report, Councillor Catherine McKenney has some reservations about how council proceeded: “McKenney recognizes that in this city, traffic flow and parking often trumps ‘pedestrian and cycling optimal safety.'” And further, McKenney added: “It is a shift that has to happen. And to be fair to staff, it needs to happen at the political level … it is incumbent upon us. We’re the leaders, we can change the culture, we have the responsibility.”

    So, all the city councillors (and Mayor Jim Watson) read the $10,000 O’Connor review, by this international consulting firm, and yet they still managed to pick a “less safe” choice?

    Perhaps cycling advocate Councillor Jeff Leiper would like to comment on this decision.

    1. To be fair (and correct) the councillors (and engineering/planning staff) read the review, and picked one of the options presented in that review. Was it the safest option? No. But there are trade offs. The safest option would have been closing O’Connor to vehicle traffic (completely) – but that wasn’t one of the options presented.

      I believe that we may see another bike lane go in on Metcalfe in the future, and a change from bi-directional to southbound only on O’Connor.

      1. Steve:

        With respect, I don’t think a choice of three-quarters or half-safe is good enough. People will pay with that decision with cuts and broken bones. There has already been one death.

        When light rail was being decided, I suggested a surface option down one of Albert or Slater that included bike lanes and pedestrian facilities but no cars. Combining it with light rail would have eliminated the left and right hooks of cyclists.

        No go.

        Now we’re faced with unsafe driving and cycling options because the city decided wrongly and expensively to go underground with LRT.

        So what do we do? Partially safe is unacceptable. We need to yank out the Laurier and O’Connor bike lanes and devote one street north-south and another east-west to bikes only.

        That way everyone will be safe.

        cheers and thx for the comment.


  2. O’Connor is one way south and Metcalfe is one way north. Why didn’t the city just put one bike lane on one street and the other bike lane on the other street. Seems simple. Is it too simple for the over-paid city staff?

  3. Ken,

    According to Councillor McKenny, the Council was not told by City Staff, about the consultants opinion that the plan that was ultimately chosen was less safe. This was stated in a interview on 1310 News.

    She was asked if she would have voted for the plan that was chosen if she knew about the Consultants opinion and she stated she would not have. She also mentioned that City Staff was told that they should have brought all information to Council.

    I’ve said it before and I will say it again, the tail is wagging the dog. Council is not giving enough scrutiny with regard to information that Staff brings forward.

    Anne Marie


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