Tuesday, 21 May 2013 13:39
The NCC has been changing the method of keeping unauthorized motor vehicles from entering some of its multi-use pathways. They are replacing the typical fold-down bollard with what's called a "P-gate"--so named because it looks like the letter "P" when viewed from one side. On a standard pathway, the 'loop' part of the "P" extends from a post (the stem of the "P") at one side to beyond the central yellow line of the pathway.
This change is causing some concern for pathway users, due to a reduction in the width of the passageway. Whereas the bollard allowed simultaneous cycle travel in both directions, the P-gate will allow only one bicycle/pedestrian through at a time. Plus, the opening feels much more constricted than with the typical bollard because the P-gate is higher and at handlebar height for most bikes.
We have received input from cyclists that these gates are a safety hazard. The restricted space, and knowing who has the right to pass through first when two cyclists meet are the biggest issues. (Placement of the opening is not consistent across all the installations; sometimes it's on the side for entering the path and sometimes it's on the side for leaving it. BTW, if you meet a pedestrian coming the other way, yield to the pedestrian.) P-gates at the bottom of a grade are also a danger, especially in wet weather.
We are looking for suggestions we can take to the NCC on improving the situation. Do you have a better gate design? Or some signage or pavement markings that would make things safer?
Note: You should know that the bollards were rejected because their hinging and locking mechanisms would corrode from being so close to the ground (due to snow and rain, and even dog pee!). They also apparently did not fold low enough to clear certain maintenance vehicles. The P-gate can be swung fully out of the way when vehicles need to access the pathway.
Director, Citizens for Safe Cycling
Photos by Paul Clarke
Sunday, 19 May 2013 12:44
Here are six impressions of the Ottawa - Gatineau Bike Sundays. Organised for the 43rd time, Ottawa opens 50 kilometers of parkways for non motorised traffic. While outsiders might scratch their heads about how a city can just close its parkways, the population is so used to it that no one ever complains about it. Which goes to show how much more cycling is embedded in Ottawa's local psyche than some people would like you to believe.
Although opening roads for Bike Sundays is not common in North America, Ottawa has been standing out as a positive example since 1970. From Victoria Day in May until Labour Day in September a total of 50 kilometers (31 miles for our many American visitors) of parkways are closed from 9 am till 1 pm.
Despite the gray weather and a threat of rain looming, it appeared that thousands were out on their bikes again.
So when popular speakers on public space concepts proudly show examples of that great Bike Sunday they have once in year since 20xx, Ottawans politely smile, knowing that we have already 43 years of bike Sundays under our belts.
Hartwell Locks has always been a popular Canal crossing, with its scenic setting at the south end of the Arboretum. Just in time for the Bike Sundays, a bike trough was finally installed on the stairs leading up to the Locks (or away, depending where you come from). The vast majority figured out how to use it, with people taking clues from each other. We suggested to one lady to hold the bike by the bars and control the bike's speed by using the hand brakes when going down. Pushing it up the trough, holding the bike seat at the back while pushing the bike up might be a good idea.
Information on the Bike Sundays can be found on the NCC web site.
Wednesday, 15 May 2013 20:53
It took about ten years, but finally it is in there. The trough at the Hartwell locks. We'll spare you the details, but the story is unbelievable. One of the past managers at the City of Ottawa didn't think it was necessary to have a bike trough there, while he was watching seniors struggling to get their bikes down the stairs. He stuck to it for six years. Than finally there was change in management, but as usual in Ottawa, there is always another agency somehow involved, in this case Parks Canada. Parks eventually OK'ed the trough last autumn and then it took another seven months before it was installed. We have been on it for a long time but we are happy it was installed today.
We watched some cyclists using it but it appeared that others are so accustomed to lifting their bikes that they didn't even notice the trough. Most bikes went through the trough though, we thought. (now there is a tong twister for non native English speakers).
Although we are pleased, it is kind of sad that in 2013 we are happy with a 4 meter rod of steel in our bike infrastructure while at the other end of the city, $200,000,000 is poured into widening the Queensway in a time that that car boom might be over.
Next step: a crossing between the Hartwell Locks and Carleton University. Apparently, this is priority at the NCC. On demand lights would be great. It is only a 15 seconds inconvenience for drivers.
Ottawa cyclist Kathleen Wilker adds: "A really great part of this story is that after all the hard work to achieve that particular trough, there are now troughs installed on ALL the steps that are part of the brand new O-Train Pathway, even when there is a ramp close by. I feel like the O-Train Pathway is a new standard in best and cycling-friendly practices that is very exciting and encouraging and is a product of many years of advocacy and education." Well said.
More on the locks and lots of examples of troughs (or channels or ramps) from other cities at the Urban Commuter blog. (our current president)
Tuesday, 14 May 2013 19:52
Planning for Vanier VéloFest on June 2nd has come a long way.
The Vanier bike people are working with three other community partners (Centre des services communautaires Vanier, Club Optimiste, and Capital VéloFest) and have expanded the list of activities. A more fulsome description of all the activities is contained in the poster for the event, above. It includes a free BBQ, bike safety games, other bike games, free helmet and t-shirt to the first 100 kids, face painting, smoothies, bike tune-ups, and the list goes on. City councillor Mathieu Fleury and MPP Madeleine Meilleur will be there too. It looks like it is going to be a fun event, and Citizens for Safe Cycling will be there too with info. What a great way to improve our French..,Laissez les bon temps rouler!
Saturday, 11 May 2013 12:19
Capital Vélo Fest, now in its third year, is a weekend of cycling fun in the City of Ottawa. On Saturday June 1, Ottawa City Hall’s Festival Plaza will be packed with all things cycling at the Capital Vélo Fest. Keep up to date on their brand new website, but here is a quick run down of the events:
Friday, 10 May 2013 20:43
While cycling is growing in popularity, we should not forget that some cyclists die in traffic. People like you and us, who left home, work or university and never arrived. Sometimes it was a fatal judgement error, sometimes simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
In 2010 (latest data from StatsCan), 60 cyclists died on Canada's roads, on average 3 to 4 in Ottawa. In comparison, 296 pedestrians died in Canada in 2010. While Ontario's numbers compare with some of the safest countries in Europe, Saskatchewan's track record is not something to be proud of. For more numbers, click here. While traffic casualty numbers keep going down, Canada as a whole should be a lot safer. The Netherlands, after island state Malta the safest country in the world in terms of traffic, had 650 traffic deaths (2012) compared with 2227 in Canada (2010). While the population is twice as large in Canada (17 mln vs 35 mln), the number of fatalities is nearly 3,5 times as high as in the Netherlands. Yet, when we wrote the Federal Minister of Transport to point this out last year, he wrote us back that Canada is just as safe as Europe, conveniently comparing one country (Canada) with the average of 27 EU countries. Therefore, side guards he said, were not necessary. More on 'Safe Trucks' here.
Over the last ten years, several people in the Ottawa-Gatineau region organised the Ride of Silence. It is nothing grandiose, there are no large sponsors and there is no big ticket fundraising, just a short tour to remember those who died too young. This year, Francis Ouimet (Canada Post) is organising the tour. The planned route is the same as last year’s: down Laurier bike lane to Bronson and back to City Hall twice. See the number of bike trips on Laurier Bike Lane here. The poster above shows all the details. There is also a Facebook page here.
Rules of the road
Remember, sticking to the rules of the road greatly increases your own safety. Don't cycle with ear buds, have proper lights at night, shoulder check, stay 3 ft away from cars to avoid dooring, take the lane if needed. Better an angry driver behind you than a mourning family around your picture on the fire place mantle. Ride your bike in the same direction as traffic, not against it. And..don't ride on sidewalks. Not only do you hinder pedestrians, drivers don't expect you there. As the Dutch expression goes: "Avoiding is better than healing".
Thank you Francis for organising the tour this year.
Citizens for Safe Cycling announces the publication of its second annual report on the state of cycling in Ottawa: the 2012 Ottawa Report on Bicycling.
This document outlines the major cycling-related developments that took place in Ottawa in 2012, highlighting new infrastructure developments as well as ongoing programs and celebrating expanded projects, festivals, and initiatives. Key indicators such as cycling modal share and City budget allocation are included for the purpose of tracking these values over time. Last year’s “Top 10” list of problems is assessed, and areas where further improvements are necessary to promote cycling safety and accessibility in Ottawa are noted.
By collecting much of the information about cycling-related activities in Ottawa into one document which can be reviewed and re-articulated annually, CfSC aims to make a lasting contribution to the promotion of cycling in Ottawa.
2012 Key Facts:
Increase in City of Ottawa Budget allocated to cycling since 2011: 44%
Total Distance of Segregated Bike Lanes: 3.0 km
Average Daily Modal Share on Ottawa: 1.8%
Highest Daily Modal Share on Ottawa: 4.2% (Ottawa Inner Area)
Increase in Total Number of Bike Trips in Ottawa since 2005: 40%
Highest Number of Trips on a Single Day: 5,797 on July 1st at Ottawa River Pathway
Total Winter Bike Trips: 181, 395 at 8 CTAP counters
New features in this year’s Ottawa Report on Bicycling include:
Cycling counters from Open Data illustrate bike trends in Ottawa (p. 10)
Special feature on Winter Cycling (p.11)
City councillors share “What cycling-related improvements [they] would most like to see in [their] ward” (p. 16)
Updates on Ottawa’s bike share systems (p. 26)
For inquiries about the 2012 Ottawa Report on Bicycling, please contact CfSC’s Board of Directors: