East-west bikeway design modified

Changes have been made proposed to the design of a key link in the for the east-west bikeway in Centretown, which connects Albert Street and Laurier Avenue, following a barrage of complaints on social media. 

The original design proposed a stretch of bikeway that would have forced a cyclist to dismount. But that proposal has since been revised and cyclists will no longer have to get off their bikes near the corner of Bronson and Slater streets. 

Some dangerous streets currently separate Laurier Avenue bike lane and a multi-use pathway along Albert Street; this link would join the paths for cyclists. The original design that cyclists dismount rather than make a costly change to traffic lights between Bronson and Slater. The new design removes the need for cyclists to get off their bikes and keeps everything else intact.

The plan was changed after the city realized it was not going to cost $100,000 to change a traffic-signal system – as originally presumed – to avoid forcing, cyclists to dismount, as they originally thought, says Somerset Coun. Catherine McKenney.

“There was some concern around whether the signals at that intersection would actually have to be changed out and if that was the case it was going to be very expensive,” says McKenney.

The original design effort was inadequate, says Thomas McVeigh, president of the Centretown Citizens Community Association.

“They couldn’t actually find a real solution and we need to do better for our bike paths,” says McVeigh. “We have to treat them as seriously as we treat roads.”

While the design has now been redone and cyclists will no longer have to dismount at the intersection, there are still problems with the proposed bike path, says cyclist Brian McPherson, who took his complaints to Twitter.

“I’m disappointed I feel like it’s going for the easy solution rather than the best solution or the most easily integrated with the way people would actually travel,” says McPherson.

Funnelling people through a park and then onto a busy, awkward intersection is not the ideal solution, says McPherson. He and other cyclists in Centretown would like to see more options.

“It seems like a lot of focus and money put to some not 100-per-cent awesome solution when there would be other possibilities,” says McPherson.

The concerns, according to McVeigh, run deeper than just this specific bikeway.

“This is another example of not doing what we should in terms of active transportation,” says McVeigh. “Pedestrian and bike paths are treated as second-class citizens even in the downtown core, which we shouldn’t accept.”

The city has made some important moves to improve cycling infrastructure, says McPherson, but frustrations expressed by cyclists on social media have also highlighted the long time it takes to implement even minor improvements.

“Sometimes I and other people, on social media, get frustrated with the pace. Everything seems to take so long to happen,” says McPherson. “If it wasn’t that every process seemed to take two or three years to show up then people might be more flexible or willing to deal with the qualities.” 

McKenney says she’s pleased with the planned changes to the bikeway and says now that she will ensure they are implemented according to plan.

“There is a solution where they will be able to direct cyclists through the intersection at Bronson and Slater. I will make sure that that happens,” says McKenney.