Safe Bike Crossing

A number of Ottawa people get worked up over obsolete text in the traffic act. Those “bike paths” and multi-user paths frequently cross traffic roads, access roads to parking lots, and other road-like surfaces. Sometimes a painted crosswalk is located right there, very handy. And sometimes there’s nothing. We are not at all consistent:

Above: Ottawa River bike path, scene 1

Above: Ottawa River bike path, scene 2


Where there is a crosswalk, and the path delivers us right to it, of course we ride across it. Unless you are a real stickler for rules, in which case you dismount, walk your bike across, and remount. Not exactly the most common sight along the numerous bike paths in the city.

Carleton U installed the first “cross ride” I am aware of in this City. Pedestrians walk in the middle, cyclists have lots of room to ride on either side. This is a private road and presumably Carleton has some additional latitude to do what it wants. It would be better to put the cycling symbol on the sides to help cyclists and peds to stay where they are safest:

Raised crossing like this are somewhat self-policing, that is they remind every passing motorist that this is a crosswalk/crossride and to yield to cross traffic. This is of most value when vehicles are turning through an intersection and then meeting the crossing at right angles. Motorists need to be reminded that while they may have missed other vehicles on the road surface, they still have to watch for pedestrians and cyclists.

Here is another raised crosswalk/crossride from Cambridge, MA:

Notice the nifty highly reflective bollards. It strikes me that the direction of crossing is odd on both these installations: normally cyclists would tend to ride to the right of the crossing or pedestrians, but here the indication is to ride on the left:

The square pavers in the sidewalks/separated bike paths indicate pedestrian crossing areas, reminding cylists to watch for peds and peds that they have left the regular sidewalk. This style is very similar to what I saw used in The Netherlands.

Then there is the coloured asphalt surface treatment used on Laurier Avenue. When the bike path and a road meet at right angles, the path is coloured green to remind motorists they are crossing a cycling route and to look for cyclists.

4 thoughts on “Safe Bike Crossing

  1. I’ve wondered about the legality of the stop signs along the Ottawa River bike path for some time (see the firs photo). Surely they’re smaller than required by the traffic code? I suspect, though, that the code requires cyclists to stop at these points regardless of the presence of a sign, in which case the under-sized sign may not matter. As it is, I’ve never seen a cyclist stop at one of them unless a car was present, and even then the driver usually waves the cyclist through.

  2. The one at Carleton is merely a raised crosswalk for pedestrians. Your photo shows that it connects to a concrete sidewalk that is not wide enough to be intended for cycling.

    A better comparison is at the Corktown Footbridge and Queen Elizabeth Drive, where there is a curb depression on the canal side that is wide enough to be part in the crosswalk (for peds) and part in the intersection (for bikes to enter the vehicular traffic on Somerset). This is a significant improvement over other controlled intersections of the pathways in the experimental farm (Merivale, Fisher, etc.) That dump cyclists into the crosswalk.

  3. Just an FYI…the tunnel from Colonel By into Ottawa U now has bike lanes where once they had no cycling allowed. Still a bit of confusion but a nice touch anyway.

  4. In the Cambridge, MA crossing, sending bikes to the left allows cyclists in the street’s cycle lanes to cross the street without having to cross the pedestrians’ paths

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