Will bicycles be allowed on LRT at peak hours?

Less than a year before light rail is expected to be up and running in Ottawa, cyclists fear their access to the trains with their bikes will be restricted during peak hours.

No clear answer from OC Transpo as transit agency studies best practices worldwide

Ottawa's Confederation Line is set to open in 2018. It's unclear whether bicycles will be allowed on the trains during peak commuting times. (City of Ottawa)

Less than a year before light rail is expected to be up and running in Ottawa, cyclists fear their access to the trains with their bikes will be restricted during peak hours.

So far, there is no clear answer from the City of Ottawa about what the new LRT experience will be like for cyclists, who are increasingly concerned there will be a gap in service on the Confederation Line.

"There are indeed voices saying that getting on trains with your bike would not be allowed every hour and that worries us," said Étienne Grall of Bike Ottawa, an organization that promotes the interests of cyclists in Ottawa. 

For him, cycling and light rail are two complementary modes of transportation in a city that is becoming more and more extensive, with some residents having to travel long distances to get to work downtown. 

It's why he believes cyclists should have the means to shorten their commute at all times of the day. 

Étienne Grall hopes the LRT trains will be accessible to cyclists at all hours of the day. (Radio-Canada)

'Have designated spaces'

"It's very important that cyclists who do not necessarily go 20 or 25 kilometres from home every day can ride the trains at any time to reduce the bike portion," he said.

There should be a place for cyclists to store their bikes on the trains, even during rush hour, Grall said.

The best solution, he believes, would be to have a head car identified with a pictogram of a bicycle on the door.

"It would not make sense to say you can go anywhere with your bike. The best practices around Europe and North America are to have designated spaces," he said.

'A missed opportunity'

Heather Shearer, vice-president of Bike Ottawa, said it's her understanding that bikes will not be allowed on trains during peak periods. She calls the direction the city seems to be going in "a missed opportunity."

"Anyone who wants to do a multi-modal trip … will need to figure out a solution, such as storing a second bike at a -frequent destination, or taking advantage of a bike-share service," Shearer wrote in a statement to Radio-Canada.

'Bikes and transit make good partners."- Heather Shearer, Bike Ottawa

"Bike Ottawa has requested that the City of Ottawa support bike share as an extension of our public transit system, but we have no indication that the city is taking action to pursue that idea.

"LRT would be much more successful if more people had better station access. Bikes and transit make good partners," she added.

Cyclist Rob Green feared that if there is no designated area for bikes, they will end up getting in the way of passengers.

​"We are hoping we can find a solution. We need to use our bikes more," Green said. 

OC Transpo examining best practices

Pat Scrimgeour, OC Transpo's director of transit customer systems and planning, said in a written statement to Radio-Canada that it is currently examining best practices in rail transportation systems worldwide.

OC Transpo will make a recommendation to the city's transit commission later this year, he added.

In the meantime, OC Transpo said all LRT stations will have outdoor bicycle parking and they will also have grooves on stairs that will allow cyclists to go up and down with their bicycles more easily.

With files from Radio-Canada