Ottawa

No money to make 29 Ottawa intersections safer for cyclists

The City of Ottawa has come up with a list of high-traffic intersections that deserve better safety measures for cyclists and pedestrians, but it doesn't have the $32 million available right now to improve 29 of them.

'At least we know where the improvements are required,' transportation committee chair says

The City of Ottawa has identified 29 intersections that could benefit from greater safety measures for cyclists. (Marc-André Cossette/CBC)

The City of Ottawa has come up with a list of high-traffic intersections that deserve better safety measures for cyclists and pedestrians, but it doesn't have the $32 million available right now to improve them.

"At least we know where the improvements are required," said Coun. Tim Tierney, chair of the city's transportation committee, referring to the 29 intersections for which consultants have now drawn up preliminary plans.

He cautioned that the list presented to committee Wednesday would take years to roll out and require "scarce" funding.

The review of intersections came after fatal collisions in the spring of 2019, when Mayor Jim Watson and former transportation committee chair Stephen Blais directed staff to study what cycling fixes were necessary — and where — to keep cyclists safer.

Staff identified 74 locations across the city where cyclists and motor vehicles tend to merge, then looked at collision data, speed limits and the frequency of turns.

Of those, 44 intersections were already in a design or construction phase, or fell within the National Capital Commission's jurisdiction and not the city's, such as the Pretoria Bridge and Island Park Drive.

The city's transportation department then asked Alta Planning + Design Inc. to come up with preliminary designs for the remaining 30, but decided one at Bank Street and Riverside Drive N. would be too complicated as it would require bridge modifications.

Chalk messages are left at the scene of a hit and run on Laurier Avenue W. in Ottawa that killed a cyclist on May 16, 2019. (Idil Mussa/CBC)

Funding for Smyth Road intersection

The consultants listed 15 intersections that could use what's called a "protected intersection" at a cost of between $1 million and $2 million, and could be improved through future road work, such as intersections on West Hunt Club Road, Prince of Wales Drive and Hazeldean Road.

Another 14 located in the core would require more design changes because they would affect transit routes or parking, such as intersections on Gladstone Avenue, Preston Street and Bank Street.

Of that list of 29, the City of Ottawa now sees tackling just a single intersection, on Smyth Road at the Riverside campus of The Ottawa Hospital. It plans to rustle up $800,000, about half the estimated cost.

"While that's a welcome investment, we need to go a lot further. If we're serious about eliminating deaths on our roads, we do need to figure out how to fund this list of projects," Bike Ottawa's Erinn Cunningham told transportation committee.

The City of Ottawa last year approved a new road safety plan aimed at reducing injuries on its roads. 

"Certainly, if we could do everything tomorrow, we would," Tierney told reporters, pointing to how colleagues have been urging the federal government to spend more on what's known as "active transportation," such as cycling and walking.

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