Colin is the Senior Project Manager, Transportation - Strategic Planning Unit, Infrastructure Services and Community Sustainability Dept., City of Ottawa
Letter sent to Colin Simpson, City of Ottawa Dec. 18/2010
As an Ottawa cyclist with 23 years of experience, I think the segregated bike lane project for Laurier Avenue is a mistake. Educating cyclists is far more important than any of the other so-called safety enhancement, such as the construction of bike lanes, paths, lines on the road, etc.
From those cyclists I have talked to or cyclists I have stopped riding on the sidewalk, it is apparent that fear is a prime motivator for their actions. Fear that comes from a lack of cycling knowledge and skills in traffic. Educational safety programs like CanBike have far more beneficial results than a mere bike lane that gives a false sense of safety. Cyclists need to learn how to cycle in traffic - period. They are part of the traffic as vehicles on the road and should be trained to use the roads.
The money planned for the Laurier Street bike lanes would yield more benefits if it was put into education and an awareness campaign across the city. School children, immigrants and the general population need access to cycling education. Putting promos on the side of buses explaining the basic rules would help; continuing education classes on cycling safety would help; supporting local cycling clubs to offer skills handling classes would help; enhancing drivers' education of the cyclists needs would help; and finally, enforcing the existing rules would help.
Don't waste money on a segregated lane its like putting a band-aid on an artery bleed. It looks like you're doing something but it does not help.