Bike lane project raises concerns

City of Ottawa

City of Ottawa

New city bike lanes could look like this.

Centretown residents are raising concerns about the planned bike path that will run along the east side of the O-Train corridor and, while the path is welcomed, there are issues when it comes to lighting and the path’s design.

The $3.2-million project is a victory for cyclists and other users alike, as the path will run north south, allowing commuters to get downtown quickly from Prince of Wales.

Robin Bennett, cycling co-ordinator for the City of Ottawa, says the path will end at the northwest quadrant of the intersection at Preston and Prince of Wales, and will connect from Carling Avenue down to the Ottawa River primarily along the east side of the O-Train.

Bennett says the alignment of the path along the Dow’s Lake parking lot is yet to be determined.

Before the detailed project plans are set in stone, the Dalhousie Community Association is hoping to hold a consultation with the city to discuss safety, lighting, and visibility issues on the path.

Darwin says the design of the path is a major concern, especially when it comes to users feeling secure.

“You want to make sure that people feel comfortable using a path,” he says. “You have to make it feel safe.”

Darwin says he would like to see some areas of the path going in a straight line, such as through the underpasses.

Lighting on the path is also a concern, as commuters and others will be using the path later in the evenings.

“You don’t want people to feel that they can’t go there because it’s dark,” Darwin says.

“In this case, I believe they have already agreed that they will probably have to illuminate it.”

Hans Moor, president of Citizens for Safe Cycling, says he finds proper lighting of paths to be important when it comes to safety.

His suggestion, inspired by Delft University in Holland, is to try using LED lights on darker paths.

“(The lights) brighten when they sense a cyclist and dim again to 20 per cent or so when the cyclist has passed to save energy,” Moor says.

Somerset Coun. Diane Holmes says there are plans to hold consultations concerning the bike path, but the date hasn’t been set.

Holmes says the opinions heard there will influence the design of the project, currently at the draft stage.

“The more discussions we have, the better,” she says. “The local people are the experts on what’s happening in the neighbourhood.”

For Darwin, the aim of the consultation is to make sure everyone will be happy with the final design of the path.

Getting contributions from those who will be using the path allows for more understanding on what will and will not work, Moor says.

“Community input is always good. It may bog things down sometimes, but the concept of input is good."