Global News: Area of Laurier where cyclist killed getting safety upgrades, City of Ottawa says

By Beatrice Britneff

Interim safety upgrades to a westbound floating bike lane on Laurier Avenue West will be made before the end of August, the City of Ottawa announced on Thursday, three months after a cyclist was struck and killed in a hit-and-run on the road in front of city hall.

Right now, nothing separates the cycling path from westbound vehicle traffic between the Laurier Bridge and Elgin Street; it’s sandwiched between a regular through lane and a right-turn lane onto Elgin. Cars that want to merge onto Laurier from the ramp off Queen Elizabeth Drive or switch into the right-turn line have to cross the bike lane.

Starting this week, city crews will install flex stakes along the cycling path and a bike signal at the city hall crosswalk, as well as build a new bike lane on the Queen Elizabeth ramp, the city said in a news release on Thursday afternoon.

In addition to that, a new stop sign will be planted where the Queen Elizabeth ramp meets Laurier. Crews will also install pin curbs that will force vehicles coming off Queen Elizabeth to first merge onto Laurier before crossing into the Elgin Street right-turn lane, according to the city.

These measures will “provide additional protection for cyclists” and help reduce speeds along the Laurier Avenue corridor, Coun. Stephen Blais, who chairs the city’s transportation committee, said in the news release.

“By modifying the area on Laurier between the bridge and Elgin Street and revising the lane configurations, we are reducing the length of the conflict area along the bike lane,” Blais said.

Green thermoplastic pavement markings also will be added in that section of Laurier “to identify conflict areas,” the city said.

Interim upgrades ‘better than what’s there’ but full redesign needed, councillor argues

The interim upgrades on Laurier Avenue are being installed as the city studies a more long-term fix.

Many local cycling advocates rallied for immediate changes to the infrastructure on Laurier in the wake of the fatal collision on May 16.

Catherine McKenney, councillor for the downtown core, was one of them. In a phone interview Thursday, she said “the interim measures certainly are better than what’s there now” but added she will continue to push for more extensive safety upgrades in that corridor.

“This interim measure will provide some further safety for cyclists but it is a Band-aid solution at this point.”

McKenney said she would like to see the floating bike lane removed and relocated up against the curb as part of the “full redesign” she’s calling for.

Funding for “the detailed design and engineering of a permanent solution” will be outlined in the 2020 draft municipal budget, the city’s statement on Thursday said.

Catherine McKenney