Cycling along Albert / Scott — path vs road

In my earlier blog on the proposed 801 Albert St condo development (corner of City Centre Ave, opposite Tom Brown and opposite Bayview Station) I mentioned I thought the site plan would be improved with the inclusion of a new multipurpose path set back from the curb. Most residents will be familiar with the Scott St multipurpose path, and the Albert St one built last year. I personally find both these paths very useful and cycle or walk on them every week. That is not to say they are perfect. The Albert path detours at every bus stop to pass between the bus shelter and road, a cyclist-pedestrian accident just begging to happen. The Scott St path does this bizarre bus stop thingy at Tunney’s and Westboro Stations too, where the planners didn’t seem to be able to think of way to get the path past the bus stop (which shows that not much thought or consultation goes into these things…). Of course, I and others complained about the City’s design for the Albert St path months before it was actually built … but alas, City Hall proved unable to accept suggested improvements (the excuses were creative, especially the one to post signs instructing cyclists to get off and walk their bikes at the approach to every bus stop or intersection).

Despite their inadequacies, I find both paths useful (and so do the cyclists that use these paths daily). And I much prefer them to cycling on the edge of the road, with or without a widened lane supposedly shareable by cyclists and commuters and buses. I have never have taken my young children on these roads, either on their baby seats, tag-a-longs, or own bikes. We used the sidewalks.

One day last November, I started cycling west along the Scott St path from the Bayview intersection. Parallel to me, on Scott St, was a bike commuter. Nifty tight suit, big colourful face shield, multi speed bike (I was on my heavy clunker six speeder). At green, the commuter was off like a bullet, swerving around the unsmooth catchbasins, passing the line of cars at each red light. And I caught up to him at each light, and we started off even again. I didn’t race, I am incapable of that, I just plod along. We were still parallel at Parkdale, Holland, Island Park. Then at Lanark, he made the light and I caught the red. By the time he turned at Churchill I was still a few hundred feet behind. In my humble opinion, he gained nothing in speed or safety by riding on the road.

So … why do I want a wider path on the south side of Albert in front of the new condos? Simply to provide a safe access to the Bayview Station for residents and workers on the south side of Albert. To someday, hopefully, connect to the maybe-someday-path from Dow’s Lake to the Ottawa River. To provide safe, grade separated path to the river when the LRT blocks access across the Flats. Until we get the city to actually build paths, we gotta make due with the little that we’ve got or can get.