Public feedback sought on O'Connor Street bike lanes

The City of Ottawa wants public feedback on the plan to build bicycle lanes on O'Connor Street from Parliament Hill to Lansdowne Park.

Thursday night's meeting to present plan for two phases of plan

The Laurier Avenue bike lane has been deemed a success, so municipal planners want one along a north-south route on O'Connor Street. (CBC)

The City of Ottawa is asking for feedback from the public on a plan to build bicycle lanes along the length of O'Connor Street from Parliament Hill to Lansdowne Park.

The lanes would create a vital north-south route for cyclist commuting between the Glebe and other neighbourhoods and the downtown core, says Robert Grimwood, the senior project manager in charge of the planning study.

"We have some good connections in the city like the pathway along the canal, but what we're really missing is a north-south connection into and out of the core, crossing the Queensway and connecting to communities like the Glebe and Somerset, and so the function of this bikeway is provide that primary spine, all the way down to Lansdowne ultimately," Grimwood said.

The project will be completed in two phases. The first, scheduled to start construction next year, consists of a bi-directional bike lane segregated by pre-cast concrete curbs, paint and flexible bollards — short, vertical posts — along the east side of O'Connor St. from Laurier Avenue to Pretoria Avenue.

From Pretoria to Strathcona Avenue, where O'Connor remains one-way, segregated uni-directional bike lanes will occupy both sides of the street. From Strathcona to Glebe Avenue, where O'Connor becomes a two-way street, there will be painted bike lanes along both sides.

Under the Glebe Neighbourhood Cycling plan, those painted lanes will continue all the way to Fifth Avenue.

Second phase to start after 2017

The second phase, from Wellington Street to Laurier, will commence sometime after 2017, said Grimwood.

"One of the reasons we're able to do that is because O'Connor being a one-way street, the bidirectional bike lane on the east side actually works quite well," Grimwood said.

"We've seen a number of projects from other jurisdictions where they've implemented this kind of a facility, and it has a number of advantages, most notably that it allows the parking on the west side so that there's no interference between the parking and the bike lanes."

Grimwood added that parking restrictions along the west side of O'Connor will likely change to allow stopping anytime, even during afternoon rush hour, due to the perceived benefit to the community.

The city's cycling community appears to be embracing the plan.

"We're excited about it," said Gareth Davies, who sits on the board of directors of the group Citizens for Safe Cycling. "We think O'Connor is going to be the critical north-south bike route. It will be a much needed north-south bike route in a downtown corridor surrounded by fast-moving one-way roads that are designed solely for motor vehicles."

Davies points out bi-directional bike lanes alongside one-way streets have been successful in other cities, including Montreal.

"We're able to learn from past implementations in other cities, so we're not the first ones doing this by any stretch," he said.

Davies also said he's pleased the project appears to be moving along so swiftly, but adds he's "disappointed" the stretch between Wellington and Laurier isn't included in the first phase, and may not be completed for several years.

North-south route to encourage more cycling to work

Still, he believes a new north-south cycling route will encourage more commuters to leave their vehicles at home and pedal to the office instead.

Claude Schryer said he already commutes by bike year-round and he'll definitely make use of the O'Connor bike lanes.

"I do feel better riding in any bike lane. I would use it. I already use them a lot, but often I'm on the road and I'm not feeling all that comfortable, especially in the winter," Schryer said. "I realize sometimes it takes away a little bit from parking, but I think that can be accommodated in other ways. The more bike lanes the better."

Grimwood said providing cyclists with a safe route is one of the key goals behind the project.

The open house takes place at Ottawa City Hall beginning at 6:30 p.m. Thursday with a presentation on the plan at 7 p.m.