O’Connor, Laurier Bike Lanes Fail Safety Test: Reader


Frequent Bulldog contributor Ron Benn says transportation modes must be built safely:

We need to separate the issues. Should the city build separate infrastructure for different modes of transit, and if so, does the city have a responsibility to ensure that this infrastructure achieves the right balance between utility and safety?

To answer the first question, yes, the city should build infrastructure for its residents to use. That the use will be seasonal is of limited concern. The Voter pointed out in a prior column, the city provides a lot of recreational properties, many elements of which are used seasonally. I think that, just as the city provides soccer pitches, baseball diamonds and outdoor rinks, it is important for the city to also provide cycling facilities for its residents to use.

Building the infrastructure in a manner that is safe is a challenge.

Retrofitting transportation/transit routes, with the existing constraints of right of way width, intersections and buildings requires superior problem-solving skills. Too often the city tries to put too much into too small a space. Often, in existing routes, there isn’t enough space for pedestrians, skateboarders, cyclists, passenger vehicles, transport and delivery trucks and buses to navigate safely.

Relying on everyone, not just most of the individuals, piloting their way along these routes to follow the rules of the road, exercise prudent caution and show courtesy to their fellow travellers is naive. The most likely outcome is that someone will not be paying attention, or will make move that is imprudent in the circumstances (jaywalking, darting across traffic lanes to get to the left turn lane, not checking for bicycles when making a turn). The probability of a collision is a function of volume (all modes of traffic loads) and the consequence of error can and has been fatal. The design and implementation of the bicycle lanes needs to take this into account.

The Laurier and O’Connor bicycle lanes fail to achieve the balance between utility and safety, and that puts the residents of this city at an unnecessary risk.



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3 thoughts on “O’Connor, Laurier Bike Lanes Fail Safety Test: Reader

  1. Ron,

    I agree primarily with your final paragraph.

    The Laurier bike lane already demonstrated flaws. Without any report or suggestions regarding changes, the O’Connor lane opened. Today, another cyclist was injured. We do not know what the causative factors were, and given the history of communication from the City, we will never know.

    City employees put forth the plan and design of these lanes. Are they cyclists? Are they motorists? Do they even live in the City? Do they transverse these routes? Are they really informed on these issues?

    Ineptitude prevails.

  2. Ottawa isn’t the first community to decide to install bike lanes. Surely we can learn from other places that are ahead of us on this. Why aren’t we consulting them?

    I recognize that the city is inserting these lanes in pre-existing constricted spaces among many other demands on the same square footage. That does present extra challenges.

    Are we learning from that experience and setting up the construction of new roads and pathways to include either bike lanes or the space for them to be installed in the future? Or are we setting ourselves up for this same problem to be repeated over and over again?

    1. The Voter:

      The city made mistakes on Laurier. It has problems on O’Connor.

      That pretty much answers your question.




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