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Cycling Plan up for a vote today

Wed Jul 9, 2008 Miss Vicky 

XUP, Ottawa's Pedestrian Blogger, had a great rant about cyclists on sidewalks today - expressing many of the sentiments that have been niggling at Miss Vicky for quite some time. The construction on Wellington has only enhanced the pedestrian/cyclist conflict, especially in areas where the street has been closed. I can understand not wanting to take the long detours if you're just doing errands in the 'hood, but for goodness sake, people, get off your bikes and walk them when you are sharing the tiny and dangerous gravel routes designated for pedestrians, will you?

As XUP points out, Ottawa's draft Cycling Plan is up for discussion at City council today. It's a long-overdue and, as Bob over at Flacklife has pointed out, somewhat problematic. But it's something. Let's pass the thing - then we'll have something on the books, at least.

Of course, Ottawa is notorious for passing plans and then ignoring them. It will be up to the cycling community to hold the city to its word and make sure the plan is implemented. David Reevely has started the discussion over at Greater Ottawa. Citizens for Safe Cycling has a good intro to the plan as well as updates about the debate. If we are to shift the city's approach to cycling to something that takes the need for safe commuter routes and better biking infrastructure (secure bike parking downtown, anyone?), then we should all be getting more involved by supporting CfSC's efforts and holding the city accountable.

There are a couple of interesting motions accompanying the plan, coming from the Transportation committee. One asks staff to investigate and propose a pilot for a dedicated bike lane on Gladstone from Preston to Elgin - on the street, but separated by a median. Another calls for priority in road resurfacing and repair to be given to cycling and transit routes. There is also a motion to investigate the possibility of a "Smart Bike" bike sharing program with the private sector. And of course there is the motion to accelerate the implementation period... something Miss Vicky fully supports.

Now, all of this is going on the same time as a plan for our neighbourhood is under development. There have definitely been some complaints about the consideration (or lack thereof) for cyclists in the road reconstruction plans. And, inevitably, the demand for wider sidewalks to encourage a more walkable neighbourhood means less room for cyclists on the mainstreet. Miss Vicky doesn't think the idea of a designated lane for cyclists on Wellington ever really got off the ground - instead the recommendation is to designate cycling routes on alternative streets (Armstrong, Spencer). This is fine for commuters but not so great for people who do their errands in the 'hood on bikes. It's a quandary, for sure.

Some people were moved to reply

tOM A Trottier Jul 10, 2008 01:36 AM said:

Sidewalk cycling is always problematic. Pedestrians are very vulnerable.

But when the new street opens, I suggest cyclists just take the lane. You and traffic should be going about the same speed on this narrow street - slow.

tOM

Richgold Jul 10, 2008 11:09 PM said:

I'd disagree that the alternative routes are good for commuters. One reason I returned to transit is that to get to Centretown from Hintonburg I had a choice to take Scott Street (and have a head-to-head with a ParaTranpo bus every fricking morning), or commute along the bike paths (there are not that many people along the path when I need to travel and I didn't feel like it was a safer alternative.

Pushing people into this designated side street is pushing the problem to one side, while asking people to make due. (I liken it to the cash in lieu of parking debacle. That's another rant for another day.)

rmp Jul 18, 2008 05:22 PM said:

Perhaps the real issue here is not pedestrian-cyclist conflict. (Really Miss Vicky has a cyclist ever really posed more of a danger to pedestrians that a Double Chariot?). Rather, the conflict is a lack of space for non-carbon based transportation. The question is more why, when they redo a street, no space is left for cycling on one of Ottawa's only safe east-west streets.

[Edited By rmp Jul 18, 2008 05:22 PM]

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