More, please

Hmm, high rise apartment building. With affordable rents. Tennants who ride bikes… What could be missing?

Uhh, a place to park them?

This unsightly mess on Bell Street reveals

a) the lack of bike racks;

b) the secondary utility of tree guards;

c) another step in the jeeze-I’m-tired-of-cyclists syndrome;

d)all of the above.

Now I don’t actually believe the City should be rushing out to install bike racks on every sidewalk. Somehow, there is a niggling bit in the back of my mind that wants sidewalks for pedestrians. Convenient cycle parking yes, but not over-running every sidewalk.

I recall my last visit to The Netherlands, coming out of the station at Den Hague, and seeing a sea of bicycles extending in all directions, seemingly forever. How exciting quickly became how dreadful. What a mess. And so many of them seemed to be abandoned, rusted out, or stripped. After the initial bout of novelty, they were about as exciting as a Walmart parking lot.

It seems we need a dialogue in the city about how we store and park bikes. Let’s have it before cyclists become [even more] unwelcome.

17 thoughts on “More, please

  1. Another great post Eric! With regards to “jeeze-I’m-tired-of-cyclists syndrome”, driving back home everyday on Scott street it is impossible to pass a cyclist and stay within a lane boundaries. Crossing over to the left lane – risk to hit another car in a left lane, on the right – one or more cyclists you try not to run over. It is a stress every single day. I understand we need to share the road, but what if “there is not enough to share” – bicycle and a car do not fit in one lane on Scott street ( they are mutually ewxclusive). Cyclists ride 1 meter away from a curb because of the poor road condition. I say: “a cyclist in Ottawa risk his/her life everyday by just using a bike”. My respect goes to each and everyone of you, cyclists!

    1. Thanks — we do feel bad! Awful, too, to switch to the sidewalk and sprint to do the bridge before any pedestrians approach. In any case, it’s refreshing to hear this empathetic point of view.

  2. TarasOttawa: As a frequent cyclist and driver down Scott, if there is not enough room to share, the cyclist has the right to the entire lane. You will have to wait behind them until the left lane clears, and then pass them. Just be happy that your car has suspension… 🙂

    1. Perhaps the biks on Scott should use the convenient path along the Transitway instead – for everyone’s safety and convenience.

      1. What Charles A-M said. It’s impossible to legally bike down that path. I’m amazed there are not more bike/pedestrian accidents on it.

  3. I do think that building owners should be providing secure bike parking (and charge for it, fine, the same way they charge for car parking).

    I would also like to see some permanent vehicle parking space alloted to cyclists – take away one out of every 15 car parking sapaces and put up a couple of bike racks. This gets bikes off the sidewalk.

  4. Taking up a whole car lane for a bicycle is insane. You think you had accidents before!!! There has to be a better solution. To remove car parking spots to provide for bike racks just means that the hostility between cars and bikes will increase. Let’s not stress both riders any more than possible.

  5. Yes, yes. The Netherlands. So dreadful. The main problem: too many bikes! If I had a nickel for every time I heard that… I’d have no nickels. *sarcasm off*

    This has to be one of the sillier complaints I’ve read in a while, Eric. What’s worse, you’re offering exactly no solutions to this perceived problem.

    I’m no bike zealot. I also drive, walk, and take the bus. But I don’t see why a bike parking lot is any more unsightly than a car parking lot, and we really don’t need to make it difficult to park your bike, do we?

  6. Maggie – the City’s bike parking policy seems to be for cyclists to park their bikes on sidewalks. This is OK as long as there aren’t many bikes, but as they and certain destinations get more popular, on sidewalk bike parking starts to impair the use of sidewalks and the aesthetics of the street. Obviously, we have to look at more bike parking solutions than simply installing more ring posts. I guess that wasn’t coming thru from the post …

    If we dont manage cycle parking then we end up with giant surface parking lots of bikes. I don’t really see this as a huge social benefit. Just as we started out assigning society the responsibility for storing our personal cars when we didn’t want them (eg municipal parking garages, parking minimums in law, etc) the netherlands shows us what happens when cycling reaches, say, 30% modal share and there are thousands of bikes to store at popular destinations.

    Its a problem I’d love for ottawa to have.

    Secondarily, bikes all over the place contribute to those already annoyed at cyclists for the sins of the many who ignore stop signs, ride the wrong way, etc. so we should try to maintain a good image for cycling, so that includes some work now to park them safely and aesthetically. We dont need the ‘war on cars’ crowd being joined by the ‘war on pedestrians’ group.

  7. Magie and other readers: for some reason any comments I leave on my blog from my laptop are all attributed to Frances (she-who-must-be-obeyed). I will fix this eventually. If you appreciate the comment, I wrote it. If you don’t, you know who to blame.

  8. I don’t get some of the above comments. What is so “illegal” about cycling along the Scott (or Albert) paths? Both are designated multi-user paths (MUP) or shared use paths, same as all NCC and City “cycle paths”. The City just gave away 25,000 tiny fold up maps that show the Scott path as being for cycles; as does the joint NCC-Ottawa-Gatineau map.

    1. I exaggerated slightly when I said “impossible” to use legally. It was just shorthand for “So impractical it might as well be impossible”

      Eric, just because the city designates something doesn’t make it practical to use (trust me, as an urban dog owner, as well as cyclist, I know this all too well)

      Eric, if one were to use the MUP, especially in the area of the original complaint (right near your house and mine) one would be getting on and off ones bike so often it becomes unusable.

      Every time the path crosses a major street, you have to get off, because the MUP leads you right into a crosswalk.

      Every time the MUP turns into a sidewalk (IE, in front of every bus stop), you have to get off. Even if not legally (even though it looks exactly like a sidewalk), then for the fact that people are standing around waiting for a bus.

      That’s without getting to the HUGE problem of the bridge over the tracks, in which case to use the MUP eastbound, you still have to either
      A) Get off your bike and walk across the bridge
      B) get off your bike, cross at Bayview, bike along the road across the bridge, then get off your bike again to cross back at the lights at the O-Train station.

      The sidewalk over that bridge is so narrow that biking along that sidewalk is dangerous for both pedestrians and cyclists, and the MUP leads people right into that very dangerous activity. I saw (and was nearly run over by) at least ten cyclists when I was walking across that bridge during Bluesfest last month.

      Eric, I’m well aware that the perfect is the enemy of the good, and I know that the MUP is both a particular interest of yours, and part of the grander BikeWest plan, but in it’s current state, it causes cyclists more problems than the huge potholes on the road. I tried using it when I first moved into the neighborhood, but I abandoned it for the above reasons.

  9. Multi-use pathways are fine for some cyclists, but as one who cycles for transportation purposes I’m looking for the most direct route to where I am going, balancing the safety of that route with its convenience. If I choose to ride on Scott Street and that makes it inconvenient for motorists to pass me? Sorry, pass me when its safe or move onto Richmond Road then. Cyclists are traffic too and have equal right to use Scott as a transortation corridor.

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