The segregated bike lane through the downtown core has several features outlined in the previous post. In this post, the focus is on the west and east ends of the segregated route. After all, if you can’t get to the route, it won’t be used to its full potential.
At the western end of Laurier, it goes steeply uphill to intersect with Bronson. This is not a fun cycling hill, nor is it where cyclists are likely to want to go. Many will want to go west. So how to avoid the hill, and connect Laurier to Albert/Slater? The City-approved Escarpment Plan for this neighborhood shows a link through the Ottawa Tech playing fields. Here is a sketch from that plan, which I have modified by a dotted line showing a potential bike route:
In theory, travelling diagonally across the playing fields is attractive and workable. But what happens at the foot of Bronson Hill, where Albert, Slater, Commissioner, Queen all meet?
The picture below shows the multipurpose path on the north side of Albert Street at Commissioner (Bronson end). Many cyclists will approach the downtown along this path, particularly if it gets improved as outlined in the BikeWest project proposal. Others will approach the west side of the downtown along the NCC paths along the River, through the Flats, or on street cycling.
This photo is taken from the same spot, only looking towards the downtown. The problem is how to get to and from Albert/Slater/River routes through the playing fields to the Laurier facility. Note that there is no traffic light allowing cyclists or peds to go south from Albert.
Assuming a light is installed at this intersection, where would cyclists go? The right and left curb lanes on Commissioner (the one way short street going southbound just to the intersection where it becomes Bronson) are for cars going up Bronson or turning left onto Slater. Would a cycling lane up the middle work, as cyclists might go straight through to the far corner of the intersection … well, I am pretty doubtful of that being attractive.
Fortunately the entire intersection mess is open for improvement as part of the Bronson reconstruction project. The street will be dug up starting in 2011. This gives us great opportunities to lay out new lanes, new curbs, new facilities. (The city is already planning to extend the bike path on the north side of Albert up to Bronson and then north the short block to where cyclists would mix with Queen Street traffic ).
Once cyclists do get through that intersection, one possible route would be to replace these few parking spaces on Slater with a short segment of segregated cycling track …:
and then its a pleasant respite from traffic while taking a ride through the fields:
The east end of Laurier at Elgin has issues, but not so severe as the western end. Crossing Elgin eastbound from Laurier is straightforward. The main problem I face when I do this segment is as I approach the Laurier curb along the courthouse. By this time, the motorists on my left have accelerated a lot, the street narrows … and I get intimidated into being a gutter bunny.
There are only two garage entrances on the south side of Laurier in this block (court house, city hall) and none on the north side (Confederation Park). In the distance, there are bike lanes on the Laurier Bridge.
I have some reasonable expectation that the planners can design a bike lane, preferably segregated, to get cyclists safely by this stretch of street. After all, the worst possible spot for a segregated lane failure would be in front of city hall … the photo op would be a killer, and not just for the cyclist under the car.