The joy of dooring on Scott Street

I am an obedient cyclist. I walk my bike when the sign says to. I do not pass on the right a queue of stopped cars. I stay off sidewalks.

Some of the time.

My intentions are good.

When I remember.

In practice, this can be dangerous. Out near Westboro Station, there is a “detour” sign *  on the Scott Street MUP (bike path, to layfolks) so I dutifully switch over to the painted bike lane on the north edge of Scott, which I rarely use otherwise.


I was following behind (not too closely) an attractive cyclist of another gender and age, when she yelped and swerved out into the general vehicle traffic lane. Fortunately for her (and me) there were no overtaking cars or buses at that moment.

The cause? A vehicle door opening.


Alas, the painted bike lane is painted 1 – 2′ feet inboard of the asphalt edge, but motorists park awfully close to the bike lane:


As shown above and below, there is parallel parking and some vehicles park at an angle, which reduces the dooring hazard but increases the backing up hazard:


(above) Squeezing a big blue truck into the too-small space between the utility post and the bike lane means the cyclist loses their space. But maybe that’s OK because the truck driver got their free parking space.

(below) the car parked not-quite-off the bike lane actually had a few acres of space to his right, but you see there was a puddle in the gravel and he might get his tires wet. There’s still plenty of space for sissy cyclists to go by:


Parking here is popular enough to wear away all the grass and pack the soil down to near-cement status.


So, why are all those vehicles parked there?

I presume a bunch of the parkers are construction workers from the nearby CS Co-Op buildings on McRae. But as it is free parking, when those workers go on to the next project, they will be replaced by office workers at the site. Why not, free parking, right some close to the office. Closer even than the Transit Station.

And when the present gray brick building is built out, there will be another one.

trailhead bldg

The Trail Head post-and-beam building is gonna take a hike someday soon (the contents are moving to Fairlawn Plaza, a box plaza at Woodroffe / Fairlawn).

And there is a mid or high rise project coming on the west side of McRae someday soon, once someone decides how many floors can be built. And then there are the first bunch of apartments at the President’s Choice Retirement Project on Richmond Road. And so on.

And when the transitway is being converted to LRT rail, those workers will be parking somewhere nearby too.

There will always be construction projects.

So what can we do about it?

First, we can ask if we value the green space along the MUP, or consider it expendable. We are talking of a balance of interests here.

If expendable, and parking is the preferred use, can we bound the parking area on its north edge to prevent more “creep” of vehicles into the ever-diminishing greenery zone? Wood posts or precast curbs would do the trick. If we go all out, poured curbs with asphalt parking bays. Like in front of Trail Head or the Buddist Centre now.

Parking could be behind or in front of the cycle lane. I’ll let the experts ponder that.

Beyond the new curb, add some topsoil and grass seed. Maybe even a tree, but not one that will thrive or grow large. We don’t want to be too innovative here.

And to pay for it all, and perhaps make a profit, please install parking meters. At least $5 per day, please and thanks.

And maybe make the zone “by permit only” for construction workers to keep those pesky bankers and Farm Boy clerks from driving to free parking (see, equal non-parking for the 99% and the 1%).

Of course, something will only happen if the City hears complaints. So let the councillor know if you think this is an issue that needs resolution.

* And as for that detour sign that caused the diversion onto the bike lane in the first place, I’ve concluded that like many construction zone signs there actually is no construction going on. The signs are just random artefacts put out and forgotten, for our entertainment. I’ll stick to the MUP from now on.



6 thoughts on “The joy of dooring on Scott Street

  1. Having cycled in Ottawa for over 40 years, I try to avoid busy streets like Scott with parked cars because of dooring. When I lived downtown I averaged one close call cycling accident every 2 months, either: dooring, right or left turn car cutoff, cars running stop signs. I now live in the Westboro Mckellar park area and so such close calls are much reduced; but Wellington Richmond and Byron can still be dangerous at rush hour, so I try to avoid these streets at peak times when I can. The proposed complete street from Westboro to Lincoln Fields will improve safety greatly.

    I also have a rear view mirror to track traffic behind me, so that I know when I can safely avoid an upcoming pothole. The NCC cycle paths are much safer, but dog walkers and skateboarders can be a problem. I had 3 minor accidents over 30 years while cycling on NCC paths.

    My advise is for cyclists in Ottawa
    1) Avoid busy streets with parked cars
    2) Stay alert and use a rear view mirror to anticipate possible hazards
    3) Try to avoid cycling when tired.
    4) Slow down when coming into a congested or unfamiliar areas and situations

    1. “Dog walkers…are problems”??? They’re also known as pedestrians – who have just as much right to use the NCC’s pathways (they’re multi-use, not bike paths) as any cyclist.

  2. Construction workers also occupy a lot of parking spots on Wellington between Parkdale and Rosemount, where the new condos are going up next to the library, and undoubtedly will again if the new sign for the retirement home at the intersection of Parkdale and Wellington ends up as an approved development.

  3. After one near death close call cycling I confine my biking to recreational only and use the bus. I love my vintage 1968 Raleigh and love showing it off but not if I fear for my life. I weigh 135 lbs, a car weighs several tons.
    I also love the name for The Presidents Choice Retirement Project! I hope moving sidewalks are installed for the residents to be whisked to the store to buy all those Choice products.

  4. They were digging up to replace some pipes (or something) last year where those cars are parked.

  5. Re: Dog Walkers

    A few years ago my job was transferred out to a location in Kanata. On the first exploratory cycle commute I was heading west on the NCC MUP which ran through a broad open space with the fenced rear of houses twenty five feet to the south and the same line of fenced backyards twenty five feet to the north.

    The NCC MUP was deserted so I was barrelling along when I noted a pedestrian well off to the north walking along the high fence line. No problem there. Then a few feet further on I saw a great big mastiff nosing around the tall fence to the south. Dogs wandering free are always a problem especially if he considers the NCC MUP to be HIS territory so I kept an eye on the dog.

    And then a glint of silver caught my eye and I realized that the pedestrian strolling along the north fence and the dog digging about the south fence were connected by 50 feet of wire that ran suspended at neck height right across the cycle path.

    So are dog walkers a problem. You bet.

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