CYCLIST BAN on the OTTAWA AIRPORT PARKWAY FOILED
Groups Act to Protect Cyclists Right to Use Parkway
In January 1998, the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton announced
its intention to cancel the planned twinning of the Ottawa International
Airport Parkway, a popular route for both commuter and club cyclists.
Despite the dumping of twinning plans, Regional staff submitted
a request to Regional Transportation Committee to designate
the Parkway as a "controlled access roadway". The effect of
such a designation is that future modifications or widening
would be made without considering the Parkway's use by cyclists
or by pedestrians (who currently cross the road) since both
would be prohibited. If approved, it would clear the way for
the Parkway to become a freeway. Staff's report states it
considers Highway 17, another controlled access roadway, to
be unsafe for cyclists due to high vehicular speeds, although
no evidence was offered to substantiate this. In an apparent
acknowledgement of the Region's declaration to cancel the twinning
of the Parkway, staff's report said that cyclists would be permitted
to use it "for the present time".
In February 1998, a representative of the Ottawa Bicycle Club
attended Committee hearings to object to staff's proposal. The
Club made the following comments:
1. As a general principle, the Club is opposed to any prohibition
of cyclists from legally riding on roadways.
2. Access to roadways is not just a transportation issue but a
civil liberties issue too. Cycling on public highways is a well
established right dating back over a century. To put this in
perspective, driving a motor vehicle is a privilege granted by
licence, not a right.
3. The Parkway has been used by the Club as a route on its Sunday
rides since it's opening.
4. Some of members of the Club fly to out-of-town destinations with
their bicycles. They cycle to the Airport.
5. The Club challenges the claim that due to high vehicular speeds
cyclists are not safe on controlled access roadways like Highway 17.
Freeways have not been shown to be inherently dangerous for cyclists.
In approximately half of US states cyclists are permitted to ride on
the shoulders of inter-state highways with no evidence of any safety
problems. The Club suggests insufficient pavement width, not vehicular
speed, is the problem on Highway 17. [The Commissioner of Transportation
interrupted to express agreement.] Wider lanes or shoulders should
be included in designs to accommodate cyclists.
Transportation Committee rejected staff's proposal. Cyclists will
continue to enjoy their right to use the Airport Parkway.