Petition to nix Laurier bike lanes secures 2,000 supporters

Portia Baladad

Portia Baladad

Bikers use the segregated bike lanes on Laurier Avenue Thursday morning.

A Centretown residents’ group wants the Laurier Avenue West segregated bike lanes removed and has landed 2,064 signatures on a petition for its cause.

Bay/ Bronson Residents’ Action Group for Fair Access to the Road is working to rid Laurier of the segregated bike lanes and the convenience and safety issues that arise from their concrete barriers. Dozens of parking spaces have been removed because of the barriers and the group is calling for the old parking structure to be restored.

“Laurier residents and businesses were clearly blindsided by council’s decision in the fall of 2010 to install the bike lanes on Laurier Avenue West,” said the group’s chair, Janine Hutt, at a Wednesday afternoon news conference.

The group says that since the pilot project began, business has declined on the street and two businesses have even closed up shop.

Hutt said Mayor Jim Watson has received the petition and the group expects it will go to council for consideration.

The group is willing to compromise on the project and has sent Watson a possible interim solution to the bike lane problem. The plan calls for barriers to be removed and replaced by sharrowed lanes. Still, Watson rejected this strategy.

Watson sent an email to Hutt, outlining his views on the project. “It is my view that we should let the pilot project run its course and fully evaluate it at the end,” he said in the email to Hutt that was circulated to media.

Watson also said the segregated bike lane saw over 2,300 bicycle trips on May 14, making it one of the busiest lanes in the country.

Watson recognized that there are challenges but maintained he is confident they can be resolved.

Still, Hutt and her group will keep pressuring the city for the duration of the pilot project.

The group is not against cycling or bike lanes, said Hutt. “We just don’t believe that they’ve done the right thing.”