Cycling a hot topic at transportation plan open house

Cycling was on many minds Tuesday night at an open house seeking public feedback on the city's transportation master plan.

Some bemoan absence of public transit link to Gatineau over Prince of Wales Bridge

Mike Downing, an Algonquin College student, checked out the city's transportation master plan at the first of four open houses on Tuesday night. (Kate Porter/CBC)

Cycling was on many minds Tuesday night at an open house seeking public feedback on the city's transportation master plan.

Mayor Jim Watson last week unveiled a plan to expand light rail to Orleans and to Bayshore by the year 2023.

The $4-billion master plan also includes building three cycling and pedestrian bridges and spending millions more to fill gaps in cycling routes.
Jessica Sselwanjja and Patrick Marchand-Smith recently moved back to Ottawa from Edmonton and they don't have a car.

"We don't own a car, and we like it that way, and so development in pedestrian, biking and transit lines is really important to us," Sselwanjja said.

"I've traditionally not biked in bike lanes because I've been biking on my own, but we're going to have a kid soon and I think if you're going to use a bike trailer, I'd really like to have a bike lane there. So if they can get them up and down every arterial road, I'm happy," Marchand-Smith said.

"I think they're doing pretty well by the looks of it, if we can get it all done and paid for," he added.

No link to Gatineau over Prince of Wales Bridge

A few people at the open house were also wondering how Gatineau fits into Ottawa's transportation future.

While transportation expert David Jeanes said he likes much of what's included in the plan, he also sees a missed opportunity.

The map at the open house shows no extension of the O-Train across the river to Gatineau using the old rail line over the Ottawa River.

"It would have been so easy to extend it across to the new rapid-bus station, which is just on the other side of the Prince of Wales Bridge on [Alexandre-]Taché Boulevard, in Gatineau, right beside the rail line," Jeanes said.

Jeanes said a link that was one of the recommendations of a joint study by the National Capital Commission, Ottawa and Gatineau.

Deputy city manager Nancy Schepers said that even though the link isn't represented in this master plan, the city still hopes it will happen some day.

She said Gatineau is focused on getting its new RapidBus system up and running and that Ottawa's system is also changing.

"We're ready to come to the table, the City of Ottawa is, anytime, we just recognize that both systems are in such transition that the timing is something that we'll have to work on," Schepers said.

Tuesday night's open house was the first of four planned throughout the city. Another takes place Thursday in Kanata, with two more planned for Barrhaven and Orleans next week.


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