Bikes, e-scooters could be permanent fixtures on city's trains: report

A local cycling advocacy group is lauding a plan to permanently allow bikes and e-scooters on Ottawa’s two commuter rail lines. The proposal comes after the city received zero complaints about bicycles on the Confederation LRT line over a 15-month period.

No complaints about bikes on LRT since line launched in 2019

A man walks his bike through the Tunney's Pasture LRT station in September 2019. Bikes have been permitted on LRT trains since the line launched, but a new city report suggests making that policy permanent. (Andrew Lee/CBC)

A local cycling advocacy group is lauding a plan to permanently allow bikes and e-scooters on Ottawa's two commuter rail lines.

Next week, transit commission will be asked to enshrine cyclists' rights to stash their bikes on the appropriate train cars on both the Confederation and Trillium lines.

The commission approved that as a temporary measure in 2018, while directing city staff to report back 15 months after the launch of the light rail network in September 2019.

According to the latest staff report, allowing bikes on board LRT has caused "no operational difficulties or overall inconvenience" for other riders.

Nor had there been any complaints between September 2019 and November 2020, it noted.

The policy also discourages people from driving to LRT stations, provides health benefits and reduces congestion and greenhouse gas emissions, the report said.

Typical of bike-friendly cities

"If you look at cities where there tends to be high bicycle ridership … there tends to be this kind of integration," said Érinn Cunningham, president of Bike Ottawa.

"It just makes it easier to not use your car and makes it easier to use transit."

For similar reasons, city staff are also recommending that "lighter, two-wheeled electric bicycles" and e-scooters — which were recently approved for a second straight summer, despite some safety concerns — also be permitted. The report doesn't distinguish between privately owned e-scooters and those available for rent.

Cunningham said that was fine with him, even if Bike Ottawa hadn't taken an official position on e-scooters.

"I think it's a good form of active micro-transportation," he said. "So I also see it as a positive."

No drones

While smaller electric bicycles should be allowed, staff recommend banning larger electric bikes that "are similar to mopeds" or have more than two wheels from the network.

Transit users would also have to walk their e-scooters and electric bicycles while inside stations, not ride them.

The unapproved use of drones on any city transit property should also be prohibited, the report said, as they could distract bus and train operators and potentially be used "with ill intent."

The recommendations are set to go before transit commission Feb. 17.

With files from Natalia Goodwin

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