Ottawa

Laurier Avenue has highest number of collisions involving cyclists

Thursday's fatal bike crash occurred just a few pedal strokes away from the Ottawa intersection where more cyclists are struck than any other.

Cycling lanes have drawn bike commuters — and that's led to crashes

The scene of a fatal hit and run on Laurier Avenue W. that killed a cyclist yesterday. According to city numbers from 2013 to 2017, more cyclists are struck at Laurier Avenue and Elgin Street than anywhere else. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

Thursday's fatal bike crash occurred just a few pedal strokes away from the Ottawa intersection where more cyclists are struck than any other.

A westbound cyclist was killed on Laurier Avenue W. in a hit and run just east of Elgin Street yesterday morning.

Several spots along Laurier, where separated lanes were installed in 2011 west of Elgin, actually have the highest collision numbers anywhere in the city.

Laurier Avenue and Elgin Street had 12 reported cyclist collisions between 2013 and the end of 2017, according to numbers in the city's open data catalogue analyzed by CBC.

Over those five years, there were 1,452 collisions involving cyclists across Ottawa. The most recent data the city has online is from 2017, with the numbers from 2018 expected later this year.

The second highest collision spot is also on Laurier, between Metcalfe and Kent streets, with 10 reported collisions during that five-year period.

The intersection of Laurier and Bank Street is fourth. Two other spots along Laurier are also in the top 20.

More volume, more issues 

Shawn Gettler with advocacy group Bike Ottawa said the Laurier Avenue bike lanes have attracted a lot of cyclists, so they're more likely to run into conflict there.

"We are approaching half a million rides through there every year now," he said. "So if most people are there, that's just going to be where most of the incidents occur."

Gettler said the lanes themselves are largely safe, but the intersections could be improved. He said while his group will push for intersections that better separate cyclists from motorists, those won't be easy to implement.

"Obviously, we'd welcome full protected intersections all the way across. But that's going to be something that we'll have to convince the city to pay for," he said.

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)

A review of the lanes from 2017 showed the collision rate along Laurier had dropped 30 per cent after the lanes were installed, while the number of trips had jumped 330 per cent.  

Gettler said the location of Thursday's collision — the bike lane there is not separated from traffic — is particularly dangerous.

"What you have is like a floating bike lane that goes across a right turn lane. So you're going to have a lot of vehicle motion across there, and that's just introducing conflict," he said.

'Just paint' 

Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper agrees there's a real problem in that spot.

We have dozens of people who are being catastrophically hurt every year.- Coun. Jeff Leiper

Leiper, who took part in an impromptu rally Thursday following the crash, said that on that stretch of Laurier there's "just paint" protecting bike riders.

"You probably couldn't design a piece of cycling infrastructure better to put cyclists in danger," he said.   

Leiper said the overall data shows intersections aren't safe enough for cyclists, and as the city updates its transportation plan, there should be more money for cycling infrastructure.

"We have dozens of people who are being catastrophically hurt every year," he said.

"We need really strong language in that document [that says] we are going to spend more money on cycling to make it safer."    

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