Double your bike paths ….

Double your pleasure, double your fun, double your bike paths …

Our society is prone to leap to solutions before clearly identifying problems or examining alternatives. Recent blogs on safe injection sites, green roofs, intensification … all have elements to me of being solutions searching for a problem.

Before we go off parallelling our bike paths with yet more asphalt, we should examine the success of those segments of paths that are already segregated. Pathway apartheid may or may not work.

For many years, the bike path along the Ottawa River Commuter Expressway was on the inland side of the freeway from a point near Island Park all the way up to New Orchard Avenue. The riverside path was reserved for pedestrians. Turns were sharper, there were even the odd stairs. Cylists still preferred the waterside route, ignoring the no bike signs. At Westboro Beach, there was even no paved path over the sands.

Then, the NCC widened the river side paths, and fixed the geometry to better suit cycling (gentler grades, gentler curvers, long sight lines). As part of this, they built a number of new segments suitable for cycling but left the pedestrian-only paths in place. The best example of this is from Island Park to almost New Orchard where the path is almost completely double-tracked, ie there is a bike path and a pedestrian path.

I still see cyclists on the pedestrian paths, and pedestrians (espcially joggers) not using the pedestrian only paths. We should determine why users use which path they do, and not install acres more asphalt and then wonder if we did right.