News / Ottawa

One lane for cars, two for bikes in pilot project

City experimenting with ‘advisory cycling lanes’ in Sandy Hill.

A cyclist on Somerset Street East, where the city has implemented an “advisory cycling lane” pilot program, which does away with the yellow dividing line between two-way motor vehicle traffic.

Adam Kveton / Metro Order this photo

A cyclist on Somerset Street East, where the city has implemented an “advisory cycling lane” pilot program, which does away with the yellow dividing line between two-way motor vehicle traffic.

The question when building cycling infrastructure is where to draw the line – paint a new lane for cyclists, or paint images of bikes on the road to remind drivers to share the space.

But when it comes to the city’s new “advisory cycling lane” pilot project, the decision was to remove a line – in this case, the yellow dividing line between both directions of vehicle traffic.

A four-block section of Somerset Street East starting at Range Road by the new Adawe Crossing now sports a pair of cycling lanes, and one wide lane that motorized vehicles going both directions must share.

The pilot project – which Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury calls a first in Ottawa, and possibly a first in Canada – is meant to provide cyclists with a safe link to downtown.

“In an ideal world, we would do a complete street along Somerset, but because that requires years of planning and funding, we are putting in a measure that we believe is ideal for this type of street,” said Fleury.

Namely, it’s a residential street with low speeds, he said.

The president of Citizens for Safe Cycling, Gareth Davies, said he considers the advisory lanes a welcome addition to the city’s cycling infrastructure toolkit – one modeled after successful infrastructure used elsewhere in the world.

“Advisory lanes would seem to be an improvement over just the sharrows that we see on a lot of streets now,” said Davies. “Time will tell if people use them correctly, but in many ways they are designed to enforce a pattern of good behaviour that hopefully exists currently with most drivers where you would wait until it’s safe to get around the cyclist and leave them the one-metre minimum as you pass.”

Fleury added that more signage is coming for the area to inform cyclists and motorists how to use the road.

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