NCC peddles new bike lane for Wellington St.
Friday, 18 February 2011
By Polly Leger
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Published in : Centretown News, Front Page
A National Capital Commission pilot project will see a segregated bike lane on Wellington Street as early as this summer, Centretown News has learned.
The NCC plan follows the city’s recent approval of a highly controversial segregated lane for cyclists along Laurier Avenue, which was strenuously opposed by the Bank Street Promenade BIA before it was given a green light earlier this month.
The NCC’s planned Wellington Street route for its segregated lane stretches from Bay Street to the Portage Bridge. The protected lane is to run westbound along Wellington Street, with a non-segregated, eastbound lane marked in paint on the southside of the street.
NCC spokeswoman Jasmine Leduc called the northside route a “temporary segregated bike lane” that will be closely studied before officials determine whether it will become a permanent part of the downtown streetscape – and possibly whether it would be extended further east along Wellington.
“The rest of Wellington will be part of the study, and only after the conclusion of the study will plans be made jointly between the city and the NCC for the type of cycling infrastructure that will be appropriate for Wellington Street,” she said in an email.
Robin Bennett, co-ordinator of cycling facilities for the city, says the NCC is “increasingly focused” on road cycling, and not just along multi-use recreational pathways.
Leduc says the federal agency has joined forces with city officials in Ottawa and Gatineau to upgrade cycling infrastructure.
She says the agency’s key aim is to improve the “cycling experience” for commuters.
Segregated lanes, touted by cycling advocates as more rider-friendly because they used barriers to physically separate cyclists from cars, are often more costly and controversial than simple painted lanes.
Plans for the segregated bike lane on Laurier Avenue turned into a heated debate between cycling advocates and critics, including Bank Street Promenade executive director Gerry LePage, who raised concerns about cyclist safety, parking problems and increased traffic congestion under the plan.
However, Robert Dekker of the Centretown Citizens Community Association says the Wellington project should roll forward without contention.
“Based on the designs, I do not expect any outrage on the project,” he says. Dekker has met with the federal agency and says the project will be a “great resource for commuters and tourists alike.”
According to Dekker, the Wellington Street project was initiated in response to a wave of requests from cyclists for a safer route along the Ottawa River Parkway.
The long-missing link to the Portage Bridge will mean cyclists using other NCC pathways will no longer have to risk darting out into traffic to reach the bridge.
The city is slowly shifting gears towards becoming a more bike-friendly capital, and joint projects with the NCC are part of that roadmap. According to the city’s 2008 cycling plan, available online, the city still has another 20 years before its cycling infrastructure will be completed.
Bennett explains that although there are hundreds of bike lanes in the works, action depends heavily on the schedules of other infrastructure projects – including sewer upgrades and road widenings.
Due to the sporadic nature of plans to implement cycling infrastructure, community associations often have a slew of bike-related projects up their sleeves.
Dalhousie Community Association president Eric Darwin says his group is ready with proposals as soon as an opportunity arises.
“You have to be prepared, It’s like having a shopping list, even if you have no money.”
Currently, the DCA is proposing an upgrade to the Percy Street bike lane, making it bi-directional.
Much like the plan for Laurier Avenue, the segregated lane on Wellington Street will be maintained for 12 months before a final verdict is reached on whether it would become permanent.
Last update : 18-02-2011 07:21