Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Bikes everywhere or are my eyes deceiving me?

Recently there's been some ratcheting up of the complaints about the Laurier Avenue Segregated Bike Lanes (LSBL) in the local media. A recently formed coalition of citizens opposing the lanes claim that the city is fiddling with the number of users for the bike lanes and that these numbers are exaggerated. Today in the Ottawa Citizen one letter writer, incredibly, stated that only about 25 people use the lanes per day. I probably shouldn't have mentioned this comment because it's beyond ludicrous but this is the sort of thing being tossed around by bike lane opponents. Interestingly, a recent comment to this blog complained about having to deal with the "thousands of cyclists". Too many, too little...I guess they can't decide. On my way down Laurier West today I did a rack by rack count from Kent Street to Elgin Street. Every single rack, without exception, had a bike attached and most had two or more. In total, I counted 220 bikes. This does not include any bikes on any of the north or south running streets that were visible to me. Now imagine if all these cyclists were to drive instead! Where would they find the parking? Laurier bike parking


  1. Maybe instead of using their bikes each of them could ride with a colleague... that solves the parking issue (no extra car involved) and removes the need for those bike lanes giving back the streets to their rightful owners, the cars. Win-win situation!

    I'm half sarcastic here ;)

    But seriously instead of building the lane on an already narrow & busy street, they could have easily placed them on one-way streets: it would have been MUCH better for the flow.

  2. Thanks for the comment Anon. A couple of points. First, Laurier Ave was 4 lanes. How is that a narrow street? Busy, yes...but that's because people are going somewhere. This is the same reason you put a bike lane there. Why should bike lanes be stuck out of the way where they won't be used? Anyway, I've used the lanes as both a cyclist and a car driver at rush hour and honestly, the delay for cars, if any, is not much more than a couple of minutes.

  3. I can't help wondering if "flow" is just a more PC way of saying speed. If there's one thing North American cities don't need it's more speeding motor vehicles. The streets are quite intimidating enough as they are, especially for pedestrians, with all these giant trucks and SUVs impatiently lurching down city streets, revving their engines at pedestrians who have the gall to cross streets at pedestrian crossings at anything other than a subservient trot. So, if the bike lanes don't achieve anything other than slowing traffic somewhat due to one more "obstacle" then it has achieved something.

  4. Thanks for the comment Marie. You make a good point. In fact, speed limits are being lowered in many places as our officials come to realize that speeding cars are not a good fit in the urban core of cities.

  5. "Flow" in the sense I meant it, really means the flow of traffic rather than speed. When the light is green, I expect cars to move forward and not play the "start-stop" game.

    Now on Laurier, ever since it was been reduced to 2 lanes, there are spots where you have to wait for anyone turning left or right because there is no other lane to pass them. Same thing for those in front of you who want to get into a parking garage. Very annoying, and if you're unlucky you can wait up to 2 or 3 light cycles before you can get on the other strech where the same thing may happen.

    This creates unnecessary stress and delays for car drivers, who then are more likely to make errors, run red lights, etc...

  6. Thanks for your comments Anon. Personally, I haven't had many problems on the Laurier SBLs. I find them convenient and trouble-free. However, I don't think cyclists should throw away reasonable caution just because they're in those lanes. But really, your last line is pretty much a blame the victim statement. Frustrated and annoyed drivers may injure cyclists so it's best to not annoy them. Hmmmm. It would probably be better if drivers (and I include myself here) would just relax a little and "go with the flow". I mean, really...why is everyone in such an incredible hurry?