Ottawa·TRAFFIC

The shift toward safe roads for cyclists isn't complete

I didn't see any change in the attitudes of drivers toward cyclists after yesterday's fatal crash. Quite the opposite, actually.

This shift involves both attitudes and infrastructure

Marie Therese Rivett-Carnac leaves a message at a chalk memorial for the cyclist who died after a hit-and-run on Laurier Avenue near Ottawa City Hall. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

Good morning commuters!

You'd think that on a day where a cyclist was killed there would be a noticeable change in the patience of drivers around bikes. 

I didn't see it — quite the opposite, in fact.

On at least three occasions as I followed a cyclist through Hintonburg, encouraging them to take the lane to be safe from dooring, I had drivers behind me right up on my bumper.

One of them even laid on the horn.

All three times there was a visible red light ahead.

This reeks of ignorance, possibly stupidity and seemingly entitlement, frankly.

From my experience (I commute two trips downtown for a total of more than 80 kilometres a day on routes which avoid Highway 417) there are too many drivers who behave as though they find cyclists to be a hindrance or an obstacle.

They are not, and in fact they are often a far more efficient mode of transportation.

Stress all around

There has been somewhat of a shift in mindset toward sharing the road and more money put toward cycling infrastructure in the last five years or so, but it's not complete enough to make things acceptably safe.

My wife is one of those who often commutes by bike. She does this to Lowertown from Bells Corners.

There are still sections of the pathway network which are closed by flooding, forcing her onto streets she wouldn't normally have to commute on.

I worry about this, obviously. I wish I didn't.

There would be less worry if there were more segregated lanes. The painted strip where yesterday's tragedy happened has a terrible track record for collisions involving cyclists.

It's also very stressful for conscientious, bike-friendly drivers who look, look again, and then look a third time when crossing that painted green strip to change lanes. 

The one on St. Patrick Street is also pretty awful.

There must be a better option.

Have a great day.

If you have a traffic or commuter gripe about driving, cycling or being a pedestrian commuter — anything from problem intersections, to parking, to inefficient routes — send it to Doug at​ doug.hempstead@cbc.ca.

And remember, you can share what you see on the roads with me on Twitter at @cbcotttraffic. Or give me a ring at 613-288-6900.

About the Author

Doug Hempstead

CBC Ottawa's traffic specialist

Doug Hempstead is CBC Ottawa's traffic specialist and can be heard on CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning and All In A Day. Sometimes, he even sleeps. Originally from the Ottawa Valley, he is a musician and family man - married with two daughters. Doug is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years experience in the region covering all types of news. He welcomes your input on traffic issues and can be called directly while the shows are airing at 613-288-6900. Tweet him at @cbcotttraffic or @DougHempstead. His e-mail is doug.hempstead@cbc.ca.

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