Cycling Terror On Laurier Avenue

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The point of the following passage is not to reflect on the driver of the truck who is on trial now in Ottawa in relation to the accident below but rather on how unsafe the Laurier Avenue bike lanes are.

After this incident, some biking zealots called on cyclists to converge on the Laurier lanes as if for some territorial marking of some sort. That action was reckless.

These are the last moments of 23-year-old Nusrat Jahan’s life as she was run over by a truck in 2016 on the Laurier Avenue bike lanes, as related by the Ottawa Citizen.

“She was moving and yelling (under the truck) and I heard a sound like the release of air brakes,” testified Brett Hogan, who drives trucks as an army reservist, and witnessed the crash while walking home on Lyon Street that morning.

He was first alerted to what he said sounded like metal scraping on metal, then people screaming and yelling. He turned to see bystanders “flailing their arms” at the driver of the red Tomlinson dump truck stopped mid-intersection. Then he noticed the cyclist still under the truck.

“The (cyclist) screaming seemed to be right in front of the passenger side main axel … As I saw the truck begin rolling forward I yelled ‘stop’ and put my hand up,” he said. “The tires went over the person.”

Hogan said he believed only a few seconds passed between the time the truck first came to a stop — he noted the commotion on the street quieted momentarily — to the time it moved forward “ever so slightly and ever so slowly.”

As Hogan ran to help the woman, he noticed her bike “mangled and pinned” under the drive shaft in the centre of the truck.

The woman’s body was twisted in the truck’s rear axel.

“She was very difficult to reach,” said Hogan, who reached in to look for a pulse on her neck and drew his hand back covered in blood.

“I felt helpless,” he said, describing the pool of blood that began forming at his feet as paramedics arrived.

Following this incident, the City of Ottawa wrote a report on the bike lanes’ safety which caused more green paint to be put on the street and little else.

In fact, the bike lanes are not safe. Anyone who has rode on them or tried to make a right turn on them during rush hour will attest to that.

The Laurier bike lanes are a travesty and should have been located on Slater or Albert beside a surface light rail line which would be closed to traffic except bikes, cyclists and pedestrians. But then the LRT program is another travesty of over-spending, sinkholes and planning incompetence.

The downtown bike lanes should be on side streets where little vehicular traffic operates. Rational people realize this but that would mean city politicians and bureaucrats having to admit they are wrong. People with safe self-esteem and good conscience can admit when they are wrong. Others cannot.

The lack of municipal action on the Laurier Avenue bike lanes is incorrect and depressing.

A proper response from the city would leave cyclists safer and motorists would not be in fear of injuring or killing someone riding a bike.

 

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7 thoughts on “Cycling Terror On Laurier Avenue

  1. The Laurier Avenue bike lanes were a disaster, for various reasons, from the word “Go”.
    Will Mayor Jim Watson and city council take the mea culpa for this or will they point their fingers at someone else? By the way, that’s a rhetorical question. The biking lobbyists need to accept responsibility for this tragedy as well.
    If Ottawa took planning seriously instead of doing a poor job on so many of its projects, the city would be a safer place for all its residents. A good example is Watson agreeing to add 10 police officers to the force in light of the gun violence issues when he doesn’t understand the core issue.
    Putting a band-aid on your right elbow when blood is flowing from your left ankle is nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction and people at city hall, especially the mayor and councillors, need to start taking their day job more seriously.

    2+

    1. Sisco:

      Yes, city councillors do need to take their jobs seriously. So does the mayor.

      Many councillors are not reading reports. Some are orchestrating issues for their own benefit.

      A few have done very little on the issues on which they were elected but have done everything possible for their pet hobby-horses.

      Some have misspent their office budgets.

      Civic politicians were not elected for the above reasons.

      cheers

      kgray

      2+

    1. Avery:

      It is unconscionable that the city report following the horrible death on Laurier’s bike lanes did almost nothing.

      It is unconscionable that councillors are not standing up and saying those lanes should be on a street with much less traffic.

      How many people have to die before Mayor Jim Watson does something about this?

      The Laurier bike lanes are dangerous for cyclists and dangerous for motor-vehicle drivers who most certainly do not want to hurt or kill cyclists.

      cheers

      kgray

      3+

  2. It is all a mess and I will not do a usual Chaz and try to add a twist but I will add a notation to your comment.
    Many people read reports but too many people operate at a functional literacy level that doesn’t allow them to understand what they read.

    2+

  3. The Laurier lane and many lanes in Toronto once again prove that incompetence and amorality are a bad combination in road design …

    2+

  4. The Laurier Corridor Safety Review, completed by the city and consultant Mobycon, and which you cite here, showed a reduction in collisions for users of all modes since the lanes were installed.

    There was a 50 per cent reduction in collisions between drivers and pedestrians, a 32 per cent reduction in the collision rate between drivers and cyclists alongside a 330 per cent increase in the number of cyclists, and even a 10 per cent reduction in collisions involving only drivers. In addition to the green paint which you deride, the city has also implemented an advanced signal phase for cyclists, which creates temporal separation to reduce the likelihood of collisions during right turns.

    Incidentally, the review also included a public survey which asked users to rate their perception of safety, and they judged Laurier Avenue to be moderately safe prior to any of the additional measures. Perhaps you shouldn’t substitute your own opinion for theirs.

    1+

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