The City of Ottawa Cycling Plan includes a project to develop an East-West Bikeway from Churchill Avenue in the west through to Hemlock Road at St. Laurent Boulevard in the east. This Bikeway would incorporate the current downtown Laurier Avenue segregated bike lane and pass through Sandy Hill using the existing on-street bike lanes along Wilbrod and Stewart Streets.
The City held a public open house on Oct 18th, 2012 at Le Patro d’Ottawa on Cobourg Street to outline the plans for the section from Laurier Avenue at Waller Street eastward to the eastern terminus and to collect comments from the public.
For the section through Sandy Hill several cycling related changes are proposed. Starting at Waller Street and Laurier Avenue, the plan involves providing a segregated bike lane eastward up to Cumberland Street and then northward along Cumberland Street up to the Wilbrod and Stewart Streets bike lanes. This is a welcome improvement to the treacherous cycling conditions along this section of Laurier Avenue in particular. It will require some widening of the roadway and some removal of on-street parking.
Continuing east, along Wilbrod and Stewart Streets, the existing bike lane surface will be improved and depressions that collect water after rainfalls will be levelled to make the cycling experience along these corridors more pleasant.
The Bikeway will then turn northward again along Cobourg Street with the installation of a bike passage across the treed area at Besserer Street and the painting of new on-street bike lanes along Cobourg Street between Rideau Street and St. Patrick Street.
There are a couple of other changes proposed along Stewart and Wilbrod Streets.
On Stewart Street, between Friel Street and King Edward Avenue, the existing extra wide road width will be reduced by up to 2.2m and some of this width will be turned into green space with shrubs with the run-off water from the road directed into this area referred to as a ‘bio-retention’ area. The idea is to reduce storm water run-off into the sewer system (as well as making a more pleasant environment along the street).
On Wilbrod Street, the proposed change which requires some careful evaluation is the changing of two of the 4-way stops (at Nelson Street and at Cobourg Street) down to 2-way stops, thereby removing the requirement for cyclists to have to stop so often as they travel down this corridor. ASH has alerted the City to concerns that this could lead to safety issues as drivers proceeding on the cross streets may stop and then start to cross Wilbrod Street as today assuming cars arriving on the intersection on Wilbrod Street will also stop. Since this will no longer be the case it could lead to potential collisions or near misses in these intersections until drivers adjust to the change.
ASH has also highlighted concerns that this change may lead to an increase in traffic speed along Wilbrod Street and has suggested that in the place of the removed stops that speed humps be installed to keep the speed of the cars similar to the current level. Speed humps could potentially be a better solution than 4-way stops as the act of stopping/restarting at corners may generate more noise than in the case of a vehicle who’s speed is reduced through an intersection via a speed hump. If you would like to provide a point of view on these proposed changes please contact Councillor Fleury’s office as a final decision on these various design alternatives is expected within the next few months.
The map below details the route as well as provides a colour coded key of the proposed time frame for implementation of these changes. This map indicates an intention to also add new bike lane facilities along Laurier Avenue from Elgin Street to the Canal in 2014. This will be an important part of attracting additional riders to this Bike Way as currently that section requires cyclists to mix with high volumes of cars in a challenging environment.