Improvement must be constant


There is a value to coming back time and time again to upgrade existing cycling facilities. We do that naturally with cars, but for cycling … surely just building something once is enough?

I think that is one reason we had a recent fatal accident on the Laurier Bike separated facility. It was hard to achieve everything within the set budget at the first go around, and compromises were required.

Once the track proved busy, and worth keeping, we did not go back to improve it. Instead we are waiting for the next road rebuilding cycle (2018 or ….).

And someone paid the price for the complacency… with her life.

That’s a price too high.

In the photo above, the parked van is at least only semi-blocking the cycle track, which in Ottawa counts as progress.

In the pic below, this motorist parked right at the intersection of the river parkway path with a parking lot entrance road. That he was blocking a path doesn’t seem to have been a concern. When I went by, there were dozens of empty parking spaces a few metres further on, but this space was closer to a bunch of sun saluationers or something on the shoreline:


At Monday’s AGM for Citizens for Safe Cycling / BikeOttawa, the fast-growing membership figures tied nicely with the politicians jumping out in front of the parade. The event attracted six city councillors, and Mayor Jim Watson, who not only shook a few hands prior to disappearing, but stayed for a while to hear some of the presentations.

It’s progress on some city fronts, and setbacks on others:


Here is a fun 5 minutes video from Streetfilms about cycling in Vancouver. Key takeaways: revisit and revise and improve constantly. Learn what really works (note how many people comment on the planters dividing the cycle tracks from the street).

I found this best viewed on a full size monitor so you can catch some details.

6 thoughts on “Improvement must be constant

  1. By the US Capitol there is a lot of street parking that is exclusively reserved for people who work for Congress, mostly the Senate. (The House of Reps. seems to have enough structured or lot parking.) There was a time when someone with this special privilege kept parking in the crosswalk on one of the streets. Even though the parking was privileged, the streets are considered part of the city of Washington and subject to normal laws, so it is/was illegal to park there.

    But the Capitol Police (a separate police agency controlled by Congress) never did anything. I finally went over to their office and filed a complaint that they weren’t enforcing the law. I guess they did/wrote the person a ticket, because they stopped parking that way.

    I get tired of people parking in bike lanes but can tolerate it for Sunday church. But like the photo you show, it is incredibly aggravating with all the encroachments that occur when there are clearly available alternatives close by.

    1. And why should church goers have any special treatment? Is it because they are to dumb to know any better since they come straight from the middle ages, I’m curious. Explain please.

  2. I agree with you. Watching construction on O’Connor and the possibility of planters, etc – makes me long for a fix for Laurier.

  3. I often wonder whether Ottawa city staff look at what other cities have done, and identify what works and what doesn’t work, or whether they decide to reinvent the wheel each and every time.

    Having spent time in Toronto on the weekend, I was intrigued by some of the cycle lanes on Bloor Street, between Spadina and Lansdowne. The cycle lane was adjacent to the sidewalk, with posts separating it from the on street parking lane. While not perfect, it appeared to keep parked cars from encroaching on the cycle lanes. In addition, I suspect that there is a lower frequency of being “doored” by a passenger than a driver, as every vehicle has a driver (today at any rate), but not every car has a passenger.

  4. Ottawa should put in a lot more effort to either outright separate bike lanes from the roadways, either through barriers or grade separation. I do not get what is so difficult about putting a separated bike lane next to the sidewalk instead of sandwiching it between the road and on street parking. Nor is it that much more expensive.

    I was honestly disappointed when they didn’t put bike lanes on the Booth St Bridge, but I am more surprised they didn’t simply make grade separated lanes when they were building it. There was easily room for for a bike lane between the bit of sidewalk in front of the light posts and the half sized bike lane. They could also have done this in other places like on Heron Bridge very easily when they were rebuilding it and adding the bus lanes a few years ago.

    The only real challenge is at bus stops and even that is easy to take care of, you create a separate island for bus boarding between the road and bike lane. In areas where there isn’t space ensure cyclists know to stop during bus boarding shouldn’t be too hard, while not ideal we already deal with mixed pedestrian and cyclist traffic a lot in Ottawa like on the canal or river parkway multi-use paths.

  5. I would just like to say that yesterday a bylaw enforcement guy stopped and told the truck blocking the bike lane on Monk Street to move as I was coming. It was refreshing to see some officers take it seriously. Laurier is still scary and everyday somebody cuts me off. Enjoy your articles.

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