Twenty reasons to oppose the Laurier Avenue Project

posted Dec 31, 2010, 6:28 PM by Avery Burdett   [ updated Jan 7, 2011, 12:04 PM ]

Thirteen why cyclists should oppose the Laurier Avenue segregated bike lane project:

1. Normal cycling, as has been practised since the modern bicycle was invented about 130 years ago, will be less convenient than it is now and less predictable.
2. Cyclists will be ghettoized into an area of the roadway where there will be high frequency of lateral movements (pedestrians and vehicles). The bike lane will be located between the sidewalk and car parking bays. Car drivers will have to cross back and forth across the bike lane to access their parked cars at least three times when they first park. Once to visit "park and pay" machines, once to place parking receipts in their cars, and once again to return to the sidewalk.  Cars and other vehicles will be moving in and out of the many underground parking lots. Risk to cyclists and pedestrians will increase. 

3. Cyclist left turns from Laurier Avenue on to Percy Street will be made from the bike lane on the right side of the roadway. Cyclists will be required to cross two lanes of bi-directional traffic. Increased risk.

4. Intersection and mid-block designs violate traffic flow principles and create crossing conflicts between cars and bikes. Over 6,000 right turns occur daily off Laurier Avenue according to the City's own numbers. Risk will increase significantly as has been shown by the experience of Copenhagen (see reports in Reference Material on this site).
5. Physical bike lane barriers will extend to intersections forcing inconvenient two phase left turns on cyclists. Cyclists are being treated as pedestrians on wheels.

6. The dangerous practice of passing other vehicles on the right is sanctioned and encouraged. Cyclists can easily reach speeds of 40km/h on the flat. Right turning motorists can not reasonably be expected to yield right of way or be held responsible for collisions. 

7. Part of the sidewalk parallel to City Hall will be allocated to cycling, effectively giving official approval to sidewalk cycling.

8. Cycling is being promoted among the untrained and inexperienced with the false promise of safety. These cyclists will be exposed to the most risks. Cycling has a per km accident and injury rate significantly higher than transit or auto use. Any modal change will not be at the expense of car use but mostly public transit - the one with the lowest fatality rate.

9. Cyclists riding legally outside the bike lanes will suffer an increase in motorist hostility. Many motorists believe that cyclists belong in bike lanes where these exist. Cyclists riding in mixed traffic lanes already, for example on the Ottawa River Parkway, are subjected to abusive behaviour.

10. Motorists will be diverted from Laurier Avenue onto parallel residential streets which many cyclists use now because traffic volumes are lower. These streets were not even considered by the City as crosstown cycling routes.

11. There is the risk that use of bike facilities will become mandatory as is already the case in Quebec, the Netherlands and Denmark.

12. The major counter-measure to improve cyclist safety, training and cycling experience, is not taken seriously by the City. The CIty doesn't understand the psychology of cycling. An awful lot of cyclist skills training  (as delivered to school-age children in Denmark and the Netherlands) could be bought with the $1.3m project price tag.  A major PSA to promote road sharing aimed at motorists could be funded too and there would still be a chunk of change.

13. There is no safety problem in Ottawa. There is a perception problem. The City has carried out no analysis of cyclist accidents in Ottawa yet claims that more members of the public would ride bicycles if the only felt safer. The repeated use of the word "feel" in City documents is an admission that the public perceptions don't match reality.  Former councillor Jacques Legendre admitted such in an interview with a Citizen reporter.  Experienced cyclists have a perception that is closer to reality. It is inappropriate to provide an engineering solution to a perception problem.
Cyclists are motorists and taxpayers too. Seven additional reasons to oppose this project.

1. The estimated $1.3m price tag. This excludes on-going costs such as snow clearance.

2. Rush hour gridlock already on Laurier Avenue will be exacerbated. Two peak hours travel lanes are to be removed. Travel times by car will increase by up to 70% through the Laurier corridor unless significant diversion of traffic occurs. Pollution, congestion, and driver frustration will increase.

3. Current "right turn on red" manoeuvres, including those on north/south cross streets, are to be prohibited in order to accommodate cyclists legally blocking intersections while they wait to turn left.  North/south traffic flow will be negatively impacted.

4. Traffic volumes will exceed capacity at four intersections for certain manoeuvres.
5. The current left turn from Laurier on to northbound Metcalfe St will be prohibited. Longer travel distances will result as drivers will have to head south off Laurier before heading north.

6. Seventy percent of on-street parking will be eliminated.
7. Business owners and residents will be negatively impacted.