Segregated bike lanes reduce accident rate

Only 3 collisions reported since introduction of lanes, down from 5 a year
Segregated bike lanes have reduced the accident rate a year after they were introduced, officials say. 2:09

Cyclist and motor vehicle collisions are down, city officials say, a year after introducing a segregated bike lane project on Laurier Avenue.

Only three collisions were reported since the bike lanes opened last year, even though bike traffic there has increased by five times.

Previously there were about five accidents a year on the same stretch of road.

Close to 3,000 riders a day now ride along Laurier Avenue.

While many cyclists said they felt safer using the new dedicated lanes, others complained that pedestrians were stepping into the lanes without looking, and that drivers were cutting them off at intersections.

"Somebody did that to me and I was able to slow down before I hit [the car], but I still fell off my bike, and that was kind of a painful experience," one cyclist said.

Study to identify 'conflict points'

Those near-misses often go unreported, but now hundreds of hours of activity on bike lanes has been recorded by high-definition cameras, as part of a case study by Carleton students.

The students want to see if cyclists are using the marked green boxes to make left turns, whether cyclists are looking for "right hooks" (when a car cuts off a cyclist in a bike lane), and also whether cyclists are choosing not to use the bike lanes at all.

That footage will later be run through software analysis, said Colin Simpson, a manager in the transportation and planning division of the City of Ottawa.

"That automatically identifies those moving objects, and provides a track or trail for those moving objects, so we can look to see where those tracks or trails cross each other, and then identify potential conflict points," Simpson said.

The data will be passed on to the city by the end of the summer.