CBC: Cyclists call Laurier Avenue upgrades a good start

By Matthew Kupfer

Cycling advocates are calling changes to Laurier Avenue West a good start to what they hope is a broader movement.

The stretch between the bridge over the Rideau Canal and Elgin Street, where the westbound bike lane is sandwiched between traffic lanes, will undergo several changes to improve safety for cyclists, the city said Thursday.

A cyclist was killed in a hit and run collision in that area in May. A man has been charged with dangerous driving causing death.

Heather Shearer, president of Bike Ottawa, said it's good to see the city step up, but there will still be danger spots after the changes. 

"You're not going to be exposed to traffic for a long stretch with people driving past you on both sides," she said.

"There will [still] be some distinct points when you'll need to be very attentive."

The temporary improvements include:

  • A stop sign replacing the yield sign where the Queen Elizabeth Driveway ramp merges onto Laurier, as well as a new bike lane on the ramp itself.

  • A curb, which will close access to the far right turn lane on Laurier from the ramp until it passes the crosswalk into Confederation Park.

  • Flexible stakes marking the Laurier bike lane.

  • A bike signal at the crosswalk between Confederation Park and City Hall.

  • Green pavement markings to identify areas where bike and car lanes overlap.

Shearer said the long-term solution would be a protected bike lane on the north side of Laurier Avenue West and a protected intersection at Elgin Street that would slow vehicles down and create protective barriers for cyclists and pedestrians.

Good start 

Coun. Catherine McKenney said the interim redesign is a good start, but said the city should be slowing vehicles down in places where different road users may clash.

"We know the slower traffic moves, if there is a conflict, the less chance of catastrophic injury or death," McKenney said in an interview on CBC Radio's All in a Day.

McKenney said there are other intersections where right-turn lanes put cyclists into the flow of traffic that the city should improve.

Florence Lehman, a member of Bike Ottawa's board of directors, agreed there are other spots where the city needs to fix safety issues. 

"It would be good to add protection where you have missing links," Lehman said.

She said there are similar issues at the intersection of Sussex Drive and King Edward Avenue and at the section of Jeanne d'Arc Boulevard where a 13-year-old was killed near the Highway 174 on-ramp.

The city said the improvements to Laurier are expected to be completed by the end of August and residents should expect delays in the area until then. 

The city will allocate funding for a more permanent solution in the 2020 draft budget, the release said.

No one from the city was available for an interview Thursday afternoon.

Catherine McKenney