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The Ottawa Citizen Online Letters Page
Monday August 16, 1999
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Monday 16 August 1999

New lanes are threat to cyclists

Avery Burdett
The Ottawa Citizen

Rod MacIvor, The Ottawa Citizen / Avery Burdett says the NCC should have consulted with cycling groups before opening new cycling lanes in the Lebreton area.

Perhaps it's time the NCC withdrew from the transportation business. Having declared cyclists to be second-class road users on the Champlain Bridge, they are attempting the same in the Lebreton Flats area.

Last week, cyclists noticed new two-way bike lanes on the same side of the roadway on Fleet Street and Broad Street.

It seems they connect Pooley's Bridge in the east to the NCC pathway to the west.

These streets were easily navigable by cyclists, at least until the bike lanes appeared.

Riders are now squeezed into narrow lanes. They are obstructed by hydro poles, badly fitting sewer grates, potholes, gravel and garbage.

They could wait forever for a green light -- the light is activated by vehicles arriving in the regular lane on the north side -- heading west on the "wrong" side of the road at the Booth Street intersection.

Some don't bother and run the red light.

If they survive, they may still cycle head-on into motor vehicle traffic turning in front of them on the same side of the roadway.

They could crash into each other at a 90-degree turn at Fleet Street and Broad Street.

They may or may not stop at this turn depending on how they interpret the newly compromised stop signage.

That's assuming they get onto the bike lane system in the first place. There are no signs in either direction to indicate that the lanes and the NCC path system connect.

Apparently, this work was carried out by the NCC but nobody bothered to inform the City of Ottawa, which owns the roads.

No consultation with cycling groups occurred.

According to the City manager responsible for co-ordinating cycling-related issues, the NCC implemented the lanes in an attempt to improve "user safety" through the Lebreton area, although no "user safety" issue can be determined -- virtually no motor vehicles use these roads.

Despite this, the city has not declared an intention to have them removed.

How many times do representatives of cyclists have to remind the NCC and the City of Ottawa that all cyclists fare best when they are treated and act as drivers of vehicles?

If anyone should wonder why there is so much unlawful cycling in this area, they need look no further for the answer. Government encourages it.

Avery Burdett, Ottawa

director, Ottawa Bicycle Club

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