Unintended benefits of Laurier SBL

The Laurier Separated Bike Lane — SBL — opens July 10th.

Considerable criticism has been levelled that it goes nowhere from nowhere to nowhere. I guess these critics want a SBL that never starts nor stops…  they just don’t want it at all.

At the western end of Laurier, the bike lane stops at Bronson. Considerable volumes of bike traffic will have moved off the route to go north and west or south by time the lane reaches Bronson. But for traffic continuing into Dalhousie, Chinatown, or desiring to go south parallel to Bronson, some new measures have been put into place by the City. Thus these areas benefit from the Laurier SBL spending.

For citizens cycling along Somerset, the “old” road marking plan had two lanes marked for each direction. The curbside lane was usually used for parking. However, this was not guaranteed. Rush hour commuters could reclaim the whole street. Now the City has re-marked portions of Somerset  to show one travel lane in each direction, plus marked parking space at the side. This is consistent with the new style being used on Somerset west of Booth which has protected parking bays and one through lane. This is also used when Somerset becomes West Wellie in Hintonburg.

Here are some shots of the new markings. Note the “painted out” former lane markings which show  significant  gain in cycling space (allow for door openings, of course).

A sharrow is visible in the far distance. The spacing between the sharrows is probably perfect for cars going 50kmh but seem rather too far apart to be reassuring to cyclists. I noticed in Toronto and Montreal that sharrow symbols are painted much closer together than in Ottawa.

The Laurier bike lane directs west and southbound traffic along Laurier and Cambridge (through the city’s only woonerf, described here:    http://westsideaction.wordpress.com/2010/12/13/design-exercise-i/    ).

Cyclists from the west can pick up the marked route at Empress, via Primrose, Cambridge, then Laurier. The route is marked with a combination of pavement sharrows and directional signage.

At last week’s quality assurance walkabout with City staff along the route, several of us recommended more frequent sharrows, and using sharrows to mark the turns. In my simplistic view, sharrows lead cyclists on, then when there is a turn in the route, cyclists are supposed to notice the signs mounted high up on posts. This seems a recipe for frustrating cyclists and getting them lost. Better to keep all markings on the road, or on the posts, or both, but not alternating.

4 thoughts on “Unintended benefits of Laurier SBL

  1. When I heard about the Sharrows on Somerset I was still skeptical, because it seemed that they were telling cyclists to go along Bronson, with no cycling facilities at all, but Cambridge is a very pretty connector. At least somebody at City Hall is thinking.

    1. Yup, I use Cambridge every day to go between Laurier and Gladstone. Very little traffic (in part because part of the road is chained off to cars. It works well.

      I note that Gladstone is full of bike traffic, with no bike lanes. Although it’s very busy with car and truck traffic, it’s a natural and necssary route for bike commuters from Hintonburg, Civic Hospital and other neighbourhoods. So half my commute is a bike commuter’s dream (Laurier, Cambridge, Sherwood), and Gladstone, is, well, Gladstone. Here’s hoping it gets a bike lane some day.

  2. I don’t know about you but I am getting really tired of all the complaining. Even when you answer the critics with a well-reasoned response they still keep chiming the same old nonsense. The visitor parking, the deliveries, the emergency vehicles…I guess they don’t have any of this in cities with successful SBLs. And this complaining from the cyclists themselves…no start, no end , no connection and so on and so on. This is a really exciting project and it would be so nice if at least the cyclists could all be on the same page. It’s not perfect yet but it’s a very good start.

  3. I am happy to see the new markings for bicycles and hope to see more on city streets but it seems that there may be some confusion with these new markings to identify parking spaces.

    One example of this can be seen on south side of Somerset between Booth and Lebreton. In one instance it is clearly marked that cars should not park in front of a driveway by boxing the parking spaces on either side of the driveway. A few car lengths to the east the same treatment is not applied for another driveway. This can be confusing to visitors to the area as it appears that the city is saying parking is legal within the newly marked “boxed” areas. The parking signs for this stretch further add to the confusion.

    There is also an inconstancy between the markings and the parking signs on the north side of Somerset between Empress and Lorne.

    Lets hope no one gets a parking ticket as a result.

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