Archive for the ‘city council’ Category

Segregated Cycling lanes

Hello all!

With winter finally seeming to have been beaten, it’s time to take this blog out of its seasonal (albeit never planned) hibernation.

There’s been a lot of attention paid in the past few weeks to a pilot project that would see the city create a segregated cycling route through centretown on a trial basis. The Sun was the first to report on it on March 15th (though doesn’t have most of the details exactly right and is pretty slanted against), Centretown News followed up on the 26th (their details are right, but they managed to get some names wrong), and the Citizen has something published today. Note all stories talk about different events: the Sun followed the original presentation to the Roads and Cycling Advisory Committee (full disclosure: I’m chair of RCAC. I write here as an individual), the latter follow Councillor Holmes’ stepping in to propose the creation of a different consultation mechanism.

I think that there’s lots to be optimistic about in this. Given that this will be a bit of a first for Ottawa (at least in the core). My impression, at least based on what RCAC was told, was that the plan was to begin meeting with other community and business groups. What is being proposed here is to make the consultation process more formal. That might slow things down a bit, but I’m not sure that we would have seen any changes this cycling season in any case. It’s more important that we do what is needed to make sure that everyone is comfortable with the process and is able to contribute as much as is possible: it’ll produce a better result, and it will help avoid infighting amongst various road users/business groups/residents.

Now, in The Citizen Holmes’ suggests that downtown was listed as an option, but the cycling plan calls for considerations of larger east-west routes, which is true. I think that the idea of a downtown route for the pilot has more to do with it being an area where there is a good concentration of places to go, local residents, and people commuting in. There’s also already a lot of bicycles. That’s a good mix for a first project, and is probably different than if it were farther from the core.

City Cycling Safety/Lane study?

News out of transportation committee today: a motion from Clive Doucet calls for a city-wide study of cycling safety hazards and whether or not segregated lanes might be a solution. The Citizen and CBC have it covered.

Doucet, quoted in the CBC:

“I hope to see Ottawa becoming much safer,” Doucet said Wednesday. “We’ll hopefully have an east-west dedicated lane through the centre of the city, which we don’t have now. I mean talk to my staff, who come to work down Gladstone and have to share the lane with a bus — pretty scary.”

Now, I bike down Gladstone all the time and have never really felt unsafe given the volume of traffic. But I also bike 9 months of the year and contribute to a cycling blog, so I’m probably not the best judge of average. A full set of city-wide cycling lanes designed for commuting would certainly be nice, and would probably help to get more people onto bikes. I know I’d certainly appreciate something a bit more dedicated in the downtown core, given that Queen St., and the risk of door prizes and people making blind right turns, represents that most dangerous couple minutes of my day.

These lanes require dedicated funding for cycling projects, which have been something that the city has not always been great about finding. Also, while it doesn’t seem to be in either of the links above, I seem to recall staff mentioning somewhere else that in most of the areas where we’ve seen accidents segregated lanes are not really feasible.

These now go onto full council for further discussion, so emailing your councilor support would be handy.

Cycling in the City Budget

It is city budget time in Ottawa: an annual event where everything is seemingly threatened with cuts, fistfights erupt in coffee shops over whether individual taxpayers should pay 11 bucks a household to fund arts programs, and no one is entirely clear what will be offered next year until the damn thing is actually passed. It is pretty incovenient for residents, but I can only imagine how trying it must be for the city staff and individual groups who don’t know if they will be employed or exist next year.

This blog, ofcourse, is paying particular attention to the budgets cycling commitments. I’m still working through the budget, but Citizens for Safe Cycling has prepared a useful breakdown of the budgets cycling commitments (PDF). The focus is, ofcourse, the Ottawa Cycling Plan. To implement it in 5 years as the city has committed would mean a commitment of around $5 million from the city this year;there is actually about $700,000. As we said at the time, the real test of commitment will be how much funding they are willing to designate.

Separate but equal

Giacomo Panico laments the lack of seperated bike lanes in the Ottawa Cycling Plan, and suggets Laurier Avenue as one street that could be benefit from such a division. While most Ottawa streets don’t see the kind of car chaos that the New Yorks streets in the video do, I think the major arteries certainly have enough traffic to deter most casual cyclists from becoming commuters.

Council failing on biking

Ecology Ottawa and the Sierra Club issued a report card on the current council’s environmental measures. They say that “Mayor O’Brien’s Council lags behind other Canadian cities on the environment.”

One reason for some of the failing grades: lack of funding for cycling. From the Ottawa Citizen:

[F]our years ago, funding for cycling came in at $400,000 per year and out of all commuters, two per cent rode bikes. Funding for cycling is now zero, and Mr. Doucet said it’s no surprise that cycling rates are stagnant “while other cities have caught up to Ottawa and are passing us.”

You can take a look at how your councillor is doing here.