The story of BikeWest began at the point where the transitway meets Albert-Slater where they split in front of the Good Companions centre just west of Bronson. It began there because the block between the split and Bronson used converted bus lanes which won’t be required once the downtown LRT is built and BRT is suspended. For all points west of the Albert-Slater split, BikeWest does not use any street lanes but is a separate route all the way west to Dominion Avenue using the City-owned right of way on the north side of Albert and Scott Streets.
Alternative Route through LeBreton Flats
The Albert-Booth intersection will be a major traffic intersection in the future. It must allow for a number of complex and busy turning motions. It is subject to gridlock. Can BikeWest avoid this intersection?
If the BikeWest route detoured slightly north where the current transitway alignment is, it could pick up the new LRT right of way accross the Flats. The new LRT LeBreton Station will be approximately at the same location as the bus transitway station, but one storey down from Booth Street. The LRT will pass under Booth with a grade separation. As it goes west accross the Flats, the new LRT route will drift south for a straighter approach to Bayview than the transitway now takes.
If BikeWest was built along the side of the LRT, it could also pass under Booth Street, and the eventual Preston extension too. This route would be only a few meters longer than the original alignment along the north curbside of Albert, but would be faster and safer as it would be grade separated. At some point west of Preston it would resume its alginment along Albert and then Scott. It does not matter for now which side of the LRT alignment BikeWest is on, there are attractive elements to either choice.
One side or two side?
The BikeWest project outlined over the previous few days envisions a two-way bike route on the north side of Albert and Scott. Some people may prefer the idea of a wider bike lane – separated physcially from traffic or not – on each side of the street, going with the car traffic. The reason to avoid this approach is apparent from a glimpse at a city map: the north side has fewer intersections (about 12 on the north side) than the south side (about 36 intersections), plus the south side has numerous driveways and commercial entrances, some of which, like Holland Cross Beer Store and Trailhead, are very busy. The north side has no driveways or commercial entrances, and is not likely to ever have driveways, since the buildings proposed along Albert will have their driveways from a new road to be built north of Albert, and of course along Scott the north edge of BikeWest would be the depressed transitway right of way.
The relative scarcity of intersections is one of things that makes BikeWest affordable and usable and safer than on-road lanes. With the perception of increased safety, cycling becomes a more viable attractive option for getting around. Throughout its length, BikeWest requires only one expensive bit of physical structure: at Bayview. Albert Street already uses up all the available bridge over the OTrain tracks. The transitway bridge will be converted to LRT use. However, the LRT planners have identified that it may be necessary to widen the transitway bridge to improve alignment to the proposed Bayview Station hub. With all the contracting to build the north-south and east-west stations, allowing for interchanging passengers and trains, etc it would be a marginal additional cost to either widen the Albert street overpass or to construct a separate overpass for cyclists that would safely take cyclists past this busy interchange and permit cyclists to access transit and the river parkways.
At this point, it is assumed that BikeWest would be closely parallel to Albert Street. If however, the alternative alignment suggested above it taken through the Flats, the bike route might well be on the north side of the LRT station and could cross over the North-South train tracks to arrive in the middle of the proposed urban development on the former Bayview Yards and then pass under the LRT to regain the Scott Street right of way.
That’s it. No other structures are required between Bronson and Dominion. If the bike route is extended beyond Dominion, along the LRT if it runs through the Ottawa River parkway/oldCPR alignment, then some underpasses would be required where the Ottawa River Commuter Expressway and the new LRT swing south at Lincoln Fields. Underpasses like the ones at Carleton and NewOrchard Avenues are simple and relatively cheap, or even cheaper if they are simple square box underpasses like the one where the river side bike path goes under the Champlain Bridge at Island Park.