It’s evening rush hour on Laurier Avenue and traffic is stopped or crawling.
To the right of your car is a wave of cyclists on the bike lane travelling very quickly. You’re going nowhere.
Ahead is your killer right turn. It’s how a cyclist died last week.
You have to turn right but cyclists have the right-of-way across their lane.
You check your right-side blind spot and mirror to see if any cyclists are coming.
There’s a break in the bike-traffic but you’re stopped and bikes are coming at you quickly down the street.
You have to watch in front of you so you don’t hit a vehicle or pedestrian. In the short period you look forward, you have to make a right turn from a standing start. That’s slow. Too slow no doubt for the cyclists who are barrelling down the bike lane.
And that’s when you have your first bike-car crash. It happened in front of me on Laurier last week and I counted my blessings that it wasn’t me driving that car or riding that bike. It also happened to a cyclist who died last week. How many times do incidents occur each day and the cyclist emerges unscathed?
You negotiate that dangerous right turn 499 times. On the five-hundreth, you hear the smash of a person and a bike against your car.
No one is happy with this situation … cyclist and driver alike. No one wants to injure or kill a cyclist.
How many cyclists will die before city planning discovers that the bike lane in front of its own city hall is not safe?
As the lane opened, a few cautious cyclists maintained that the innovation gave only the illusion of safety. They were right.
But few heard those reservations above the sound of politicians slapping each other on their backs and speechifying that Ottawa was Ontario’s leader in bike lanes.
Maybe after last week’s death on Laurier, Ottawa might become the leader in creating safe bike lanes.
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