Photo and story by Ryan Tumilty
Overhaul of downtown bus-heavy streets planned after LRT opens
When Ottawa's LRT finally starts running and allows buses to move off of Albert and Slater streets, separated bike lanes could move in starting next summer.
>The city released its detailed plans for the downtown streets' post-Transitway future on Monday.
The bus-only lanes on the street would be removed in the overhaul and largely replaced with one-way bike lanes from Bay Street to Elgin in this first phase.
The city would also remove 210 parking spots that are currently available after 6 p.m. and replace some sections of the water mains.
Councillor Catherine McKenney said the change is about giving people options to get around downtown that don't involve a car.
"We see the congestion in the downtown, people can't move out there, and there is no other option than to get people either on transit, cycling or walking," she said.
McKenney said this design is close to where they need to be, but there is still work to be done, particularly where the bike lanes would cross Elgin Street.
Open for ideas
City project manager Randy Dempsey said getting the bike lanes safely across Elgin is one of their challenges that they have to work through.
He said they're hoping people who ride in the area will be able to share their ideas and perspective.
At Monday's open house, they even had a template of the intersection so cyclists could sketch their ideas of where the lanes could go.
"It's a nice design. It's beautiful we are going to be relieved to not have the buses running down Slater and Albert," said Moe Chaouni, who operates a language school in a building near Slater and Metcalfe Street.
He said his one concern is the noise the construction will generate, because he needs to be able to hear his students.
"We prefer if the construction could be done at night time, that will help our business to operate."
The city plans to refine the design this year, taking comments online until July 5, with the goal of having a final design in the fall.
Assuming the LRT opens up, the construction could start as early as the summer of 2020.
More work will be done as far west as Empress Avenue, including a segregated bike lane, and as far east as Waller Street, but those plans aren't as far along.