Non-Cyclists Have Valid Views Too, Cyclists

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This is a comment from Bulldog reader Shawn Gettler that I thought was worth more discussion.

His comment is below:

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.

 

Below is my response to Gettler’s comment:

 

Shawn:

I think we’re all allowed an opinion aren’t we.

Maybe not on #ottbike where everyone has drank the Kool-Aid, but in other places such as The Bulldog where diverse points of view appear every day and are encouraged.

How would you feel if I told you your opinion is worthless? That you should not say it. I believe that’s what you told me. We value differing opinions on The Bulldog including yours.

The Laurier Corridor Safety Review was written for the people who have a vested interest in keeping the lanes on Laurier. The lanes were city staff’s idea and to move them would be a career-fatal move in the odd realm of city hall. That would mean staff and politicians were wrong. That’s impossible.

These are the same folks who told us light rail was on-time and on-budget. The people who rushed through the Chateau Laurier and zoning and heights reports lightening fast so that residents didn’t have time to comment.

You’ll remember OC Transpo honcho John Manconi saying when LRT was late: “I don’t call it late, I call it an adjustment of the date, for all the right reasons,” one of the greatest whoppers of all time on The Bulldog. Translated from Manconi-ese that means: “Yup, late.” But he couldn’t say that outright in the face of conclusive evidence. LRT was late.

You can make a survey say whatever you want and, believe me, having covered municipal affairs since 1998, I’ve seen compost on fertilizer.

I don’t trust anything the city tells the public anymore. It is spun, twisted, faked, reworded, whopper-ized and just plain lied about.

Look at the Barrhaven LRT environmental assessment … $600,000 for a line not planned past 2031 and the EA will expire in five years.

We’re losing $600,000 in development charges on an EA that will never be used but could result in votes for the local councillor and the mayor. Now that’s fake news.

Here’s what I do know. People with whom I talk avoid driving their cars on Laurier Avenue for fear of striking a cyclist. Same with O’Conner. I sat in front of Ottawa City Hall on Laurier for 15 minutes trying to get into traffic without blocking the bike lane or causing a vehicle accident. During that period drivers less patient than myself turned right into city hall with three bikes hitting the sides of turning cars in that quarter hour where I was. So accidents are happening. They just aren’t reported or cyclists ride away after a few angry words.

Then there was the gruesome 2016 death on the lanes.

So Shawn, don’t be so naive on messages coming out of city hall and particularly the safety reviews coming through municipal staff. Or perhaps you are choosing to be naive. That’s a common trait of the bicycle zealots. Hope you aren’t one of them.

Many parents won’t let their youngsters use the Laurier lanes, which speaks volumes to their safety.

Use your common sense. Would you rather have those lanes on quiet Lisgar or busy Laurier? I think the answer is obvious.

And open your mind. Non-cyclists have valid views, just as you have. I respect your views. Try to respect mine.

 

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18 thoughts on “Non-Cyclists Have Valid Views Too, Cyclists

  1. The reader has pointed out a percentage that would make me uneasy.

    A 32-per-cent reduction doesn’t say much but if we merely assume that there were three collisions before the paint we would now be at two collisions. Maybe that’s good enough?

    A 32 per cent reduction in costs is good if I am trying to increase my profit. A 32 per cent reduction in collisions is rather abysmal when I am trying to save lives.

    The results from painting the road may be acceptable to some but I might like to see separation of bikes and cars or quieter streets being used. If I were the bike rider, I would like to feel very safe, not moderately safe.

    The city chose a cheap quick fix to a big important issue. That 32 per cent does not deserve a pat on the back – it deserves a march on city hall by the cyclists.

    skoal
    Chaz

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  2. My concern with a couple of the bicycle lanes within the downtown corridor:
    1) City hall built the Cadillac of all bike lanes on Laurier Avenue when all that was required was an Impala. (overspending),
    2) The two-way bike lane on O’Connor is dangerous. The road is now much narrower than it was previously and is an accident waiting to happen (perhaps a bicycle will be involved). O’Connor is a major one-way corridor yet it houses a two-way bike lane. The bike lane should be one-way travelling south too. A corresponding lane travelling north should have been built along Metcalfe Street. Yes, the cost to build these lanes would have increased but the outcome would have been safer for everyone. (poor planning)

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  3. The key words in Mr. Gettler’s comment are “perception of safety”. Cyclists perceive the Laurier Avenue bike lanes to be moderately safe. With the introduction of various cycle lane elements cyclists’ perception of safety is now moderately safe. What was their perception of safety prior to the new elements being introduced? Scared witless?

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  4. To be clear, I was not saying that your opinion is “worthless.” I was objecting to your unsupported claim that “[a]nyone who has rode on them or tried to make a right turn on them during rush hour will attest” that they are not safe. If you have another survey or have a specific criticism of Mobycon’s methods, please share.

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    1. Shawn:

      Not everything is a survey. You missed my point.

      Maybe you don’t drive a car but making a right turn or getting out of a parking lot is dangerous in a car on Laurier.

      You might try commonsense rather than your reliance on questionable surveys as seems to be the case with the bike gnomes.

      Open your mind and engage rather than react.

      cheers

      kgray

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      1. I do drive a car, and don’t find that making a right turn on Laurier is dangerous. Getting out of a parking lot, one needs to yield to traffic. Be that pedestrians on the sidewalk, cyclists, or other motor vehicles.

        I will leave the cries of “FAKE NEWS” over “questionable surveys” to others, but we should really be basing our opinions (and “valid views”) on facts – the best available facts – not on “commonsense”[sic].

        As a parent of young children, I would much rather them on Laurier now, than on Laurier before the segregated bike lanes were put in.

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  5. When the users of transit corridors utilize a variety of modes: pedestrian, wheelchair, skate/long board, roller blade, bicycle, passenger vehicle, service vehicle, buses, heavy trucks, there are going to be negative interactions. What is required, not just expected, is that everyone cede a little “territory”, be that space, speed, convenience, to ensure that everyone else’s actual level of safety is higher. Sadly, what happens far too often is that person A expects person B to cede that territory, solely for the benefit of person A. The word that comes to mind is selfishness. Selfishness is part of the human condition.

    Planning needs to take into account the reality of the human condition, not assume that the world will magically morph into a utopia where everyone anticipates everyone else’s wants and needs, and be respectful of those wants and needs. Planning needs to anticipate hazards and ensure that the solution is designed to minimize the intersection of two hazards. No solution is perfect. Every solution requires some give and take, some compromise of one group’s wants to mitigate another group’s needs, which brings us back to that human condition known as selfishness.

    On a related topic, I suggest that the Bulldog’s readers familiarize themselves with the positions taken by various self interest groups (cyclists, pedestrians, home owners) regarding their perception of the optimal solution to the conundrum that is the replacement of the Harmer Avenue/417 overpass. The city proposed removing on street parking along Holland Avenue in order to put in temporary cycling lanes during the two years it will take to replace the overpass. Homeowners objected to losing 100+ parking spots along Holland Avenue for two years, or forever for fear that “temporary” is just a marketing term. The city proposed a different solution, placing cyclists and pedestrians on the same sidewalk. The cyclists objected. The pedestrians objected. Selfish? Who would have thought?

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    1. Ron, so who is being selfish here? Those who don’t want to lose parking spaces for two years, cyclists who were offered temporary cycling lanes to have it rescinded by our mayor or pedestrians who don’t want to cyclists on their sidewalks which is illegal elsewhere in the city?

      If I could only pick one, it would be those who don’t want to lose parking spaces in this situation. Many downtown neighbourhoods have been inconvenienced for years with LRT and infrastructure projects.

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      1. And there you have it, Ron.

        Bike gnomes right, everyone else wrong.

        I wouldn’t bother to engage them.

        The gnomes just see their side.

        cheers

        kgray

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      2. Sam, I don’t live in the area, but I have driven along Holland Avenue a couple of times during June (there and back again), so I don’t have much of a vested interest.

        As an aside, sorry OC Transpo, but I don’t have the two hours it would take you to transport me, when I can drive to my destination in 15 minutes. The section of Holland Avenue at issue has a relatively high volume of traffic passing through a relatively tight space. There are a number of left turn only lanes, meaning that through traffic needs to shift to the right, towards the invariably fully occupied existing parking spaces.

        To answer your question Sam, every one is exhibiting selfish behaviour. The homeowners who don’t want to lose a nearby parking space. The cyclists who want the illusion of exclusive space along an already tight and busy corridor. The pedestrians who don’t want to share space on the sidewalk with cyclists.

        Any solution that is eventually put in place will upset one or more of these self-interest groups, because these self-interest groups are unwilling to see the merits in the concerns expressed by the other self-interest groups. Thus the term selfish. Someone else’s wants and needs are of a lower priority to them that their own.

        Ken, can we agree to stop calling groups “special interest” and start calling them “self-interest”. It is a more accurate description of their interests.

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        1. Ron:

          Self-interest is a good term but as I remember political science undergrad courses, interest groups and pressure groups are the correct terms.

          That said, self-interest is good description.

          cheers

          kgray

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        2. Ron:

          And as I remember, ardent cyclists don’t have a monopoly on selfishness despite at times appearing that they do.

          cheers

          kgray

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          1. Ken, it was not my intention to imply that selfishness is being exhibited solely by the cyclists. The homeowners and pedestrian self-interest groups are also demonstrating selfish attitudes.

            As to Sam’s contention that one group, the homeowners, is being more selfish than the others, well that is a matter of opinion, and my opinion plus 75 cents buys me nothing at my local Bridgehead.

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            1. Ron:

              The strongest lobby group at Ottawa City Hall is the developers.

              Second are the bike gnomes.

              So while they might not have selfishness all to themselves, they’re pretty good at it.

              I distrust lobby groups.

              cheers

              kgray

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  6. I believe Shawn offered a differing view from yours and delivered it in a respectful way. I bike and drive (a pick-up truck) on Laurier.

    Prior to the Laurier bike line I would have agreed with you that a side street would have be a better choice but now fully support the Laurier bike lane and with it’s current changes I do feel safe both cycling and driving. It also is part of a larger cycling circuit so you aren’t suddenly dumped onto a major street with no cycling infrastructure (Sussex comes to mind). Not good for anyone.

    I believe most people would agree that the city implements most infrastructure projects in a half measures and the result with Laurier was a death. It turns out that a study had been done by Carleton University making recommendations that weren’t implemented until after this accident. Deficiencies were known but not corrected.

    Booth street with no accommodation for pedestrians, cars, bikes, LRT is a prime example. I believe the city said ‘it was too difficult’. Now they have cobbled something together that is atrocious and will make everyone unhappy and nervous to use. Ditto O’Connor.

    Prior to the changes I didn’t feel ‘comfortable’ biking it but with the changes and time I think it is much better.

    Cycling is here to stay so I think the best way forward for all is work together to get it right for all involved.

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    1. Sam:

      Thank you for this. I look forward to the biking community working together rather than acting as a pressure group.

      Seeing three bike-car accidents on Laurier in a space of 15 minutes tells me everything I need to know.

      Heavy traffic and bike lanes are a prescription for disaster, and we saw it with the gruesome death on Laurier Avenue of a young woman coming into her prime.

      I don’t know why the co-operative biking community would be against putting bike lanes, rather than on Laurier, but on quiet side streets.

      But then I’m sure they can produce three or four studies written by biking advocates that will tell me I’m wrong.

      Common sense says otherwise.

      cheers

      kgray

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      1. “I don’t know why the co-operative biking community would be against putting bike lanes, rather than on Laurier, but on quiet side streets.”

        We don’t need bike lanes on quiet side streets, because they are already quiet and safe to ride on. However, quiet side streets don’t necessarily get us where we are going. For example, if I wanted to ride my bike from the C.D. Howe building at Bank and Queen to the Tabaret Hall at the University of Ottawa, a bike lane on Lisgar is not going to be very useful for me.

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        1. Steve:

          Always good to hear the compromises the bike lobby is prepared to make. None.

          You make taking a bike down Lisgar and getting to other places sound like trying to get to the moon.

          And as for Laurier being safe and my observations being fake, I would argue that the you don’t stay in major media for four decades by making it up. I can assure you that the Montreal Gazette, Ottawa Citizen and Winnipeg Free Press would have fired me in short order if they discovered my stories weren’t true. Your assertion is as insulting as Trump. But then Trump shows more compromise than the bike lobby. What you know about journalism I learned the first week in the business and I could put what you know in the fingernail clippings from my little finger.

          Three accidents in 15 minutes and a woman wound around a truck axle then crushed. Sure that’s safe.

          Use your head, Steve, rather than your gut.

          And where were you Oh Mighty Seer Of All That Is True when the city decided to build a hyper-expensive LRT tunnel downtown when one of Albert and Slater could have been used as a train, bike, pedestrian corridor with no cars. LRT doesn’t make sharp right turns. Think, then take action. People think that’s pretty good idea now but it sure was lonely espousing it when former mayor Larry O’Brien was making wrong decisions. Sometimes the adamant bike lobby sounds as if its brains are located near where it’s bicycle seat is located.

          Steve, you need to start looking for solutions that work for everyone rather than your one-thought linear pronouncements that would do Stalin proud.

          Try this. You won’t, but try this. When I was on the Citizen editorial board for seven years, we had to come up with unanimous agreement on three topics for editorials. We had 45 minutes. The six people on the board had political views that varied from conservative, libertarian, democratic socialist and liberal. We almost always found three we could agree on and then we got to work writing what we thought and incorporating the ideas of others in the editorial as well. It was an amazing, interesting process that took a great deal of trust and goodwill. I didn’t always get my way but I knew that the position came from thoughtful people who had the best interests of the community, nation and world at heart.

          The only time in seven years I put my foot down and would not compromise despite five colleagues encouraging me to do otherwise was on the legalization of marijuana which my colleagues strongly backed. I didn’t. Not bad for seven years methinks.

          Steve, I support bike lanes and biking as a health and environmental action.

          But I don’t support you or your fellow bike zealots because I don’t like how you go about things. Uncompromising and abusive. Not good.

          You and your fellows alienate people rather than bring them on board. You alienate me. I don’t think you represent even a small minority of cyclists. Most people are reasonable. Most people on The Bulldog are reasonable in this great forum of ideas. We’ve had about 12,000 comments on this news site in less than six years and the bike zealots are the most unreasonable people with whom we’ve dealt during that period.

          You’d last on the Citizen editorial board for five minutes. We’d get nothing done.

          I’ve tried to impress this point on you before but your blinkered thought doesn’t allow that.

          Now if you don’t mind, I’d appreciate you not selfishly wasting my holidays talking to someone who can’t listen.

          cheers

          kgray

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