I have been involved in cycling in Ottawa since I first got trained in Can-Bike by Gavin MacPhail way back in 1994. I know a lot of you have been involved a lot longer; I have also been actively involved in the various City and Regional advisory groups, as well as CfSC, over the years. I learned a great deal in that time, and my views and opinions are still open for change. I actively teach Can-Bike and am a National Examiner in the program.
We, the cycling community, are our own worse enemy. We continue to in-fight as to what should be done, and can never come up with a consensus as to what could be done.
The 'experts', Avery et al, have a great deal of knowledge and experience and I know what they say is technically correct.
The 'general' cycling community continues to be bullied by the motoring public, and has the cycling inferiority complex ingrained into them by years of the auto industry propaganda.
The 'government' which has to make decisions on issues around transportation, education, engineering and spending, is caught in the middle. Do they listen to a small minority of 'experts' on cycling, or the vast majority of taxpayers? This is a no-win situation for us, the cyclists who want the best for everyone!
So, instead of this constant bickering and fighting, which I am so sick of, its time to be positive and not negative about cycling. Lets make the most of the situation, and try to make it work. At least something is being done, if the 'experts' in the cycling had won, and convinced Ottawa not to go ahead with the Laurier bike facilities, what would have been done? I can tell you, nothing! Because again, we can't make a decision, ourselves, to provide City hall with direction to follow.
Will this facility work? IMHO, no - for all the reasons you have stated. Will collisions and injuries for cyclists, go up along Laurier? yes, I fully expect them to, particularly for new cyclists. As experienced cyclists, we will know where the danger spots are, and know how to avoid them.
I expect, everyone will see the problems with the facility within 3-5 years, and move on with another strategy. But, it is possible it will succeed, maybe motorists will be more aware of cyclists and cyclists will learn to be more aware of cycling dangers at intersections.
And the biggest positive for me, in all these years of this cycling governance issue, is the possibility that projects like this will draw more cyclists to our community.
I see the only way we, the cycling community, are going to get some serious headway for change in laws, budgets, facilities and attitudes is when cyclists make up 10, 20 and 50% of the transportation public! That should be our goal folks. So whatever draws more people from their cars and buses to a bicycle, I am 100% for! I hope this project does that. I also hope the City has the insight to take cycling surveys before and after to determine if there is an increase in cycling.
We are, right now, on the verge of a potential quantum change in the cycling paradigm. Gas prices are skyrocketing, auto manufacturers are dragging their feet on making affordable alternate fuel choices; so the motoring public is getting gouged, plus with a hovering recession, is hurting them bad in their wallets. Ottawa is an ideal sized city for alternate transportation, and since the Transit system is a dismal failure to provide realistic commutes, cycling could really have an impact now. I swear I see more cycling commuters on our roads. Too bad our winters make year round a near impossibility. But still, we could easily get to 10 to 20% cycling commuters on the roads, and once that critical number is reached, it could increase substantially as Ottawa, in general, gets its head around cycling, and sees it as being viable, safe and motorists friendly.
So the bottom line is, the Laurier cycling facility is going ahead, despite your objections; the general public wants to give it a try. Instead of burying your heads in the sand and going off to pout about it, work with it and try to make it a success; the goal being to draw out more people into cycling, while now fighting to keep them safe.