Dear Councillor Chernushenko,
Congratulations on your election to City Council. I note that you have been appointed to the Transportation Committee.
I am a former Vice-President of the Ottawa Bicycle Club and an experienced practicing cyclist who believes that cyclists belong on the road and are better off driving their bikes like the driver of any other vehicle. I advocate skilled, lawful cycling with the same rules, same rights, and same responsibilities as other drivers.
I am disappointed to learn that the City is proposing to construct a segregated bike lane in the Laurier Avenue corridor.
I believe that apart from the added congestion that removal of two traffic lanes during rush hour will bring, it is irresponsible to encourage cyclists to ride their bikes in downtown traffic without the necessary skills. City staff claims that members of the public would ride their bikes more but don't feel safe in mixed traffic. If the non-cycling public or inexperienced cyclists don't FEEL safe in traffic it's because they have never been trained to FEEL comfortable in mixed traffic. This is not a safety issue, its perception and skills issue. It is apparent that this bike lane project is being promoted to respond exclusively to public perceptions (feelings) rather than an analysis of the facts. The City's 2008 Bike Plan and the Laurier Avenue Project proposals do not identify any safety issues. There's no examination of accident statistics. Misperceptions should be addressed by education and raising of awareness.
As a property taxpayer, I am offended that $1.3m could be spent in such a way. Just a fraction of that amount would buy a lot of training of cyclists to help them become safe and confident in traffic.
I respectfully ask you to oppose this project and instead ask Transportation Committee to divert part of the funding to the establishment of a cyclist training and motorist "share the road" education program. This would be the most effective use of tax dollars and have the support of law abiding, competent cyclists. The remainder of the savings could be applied to limiting the tax increase planned for this year.