Residents at the west end of Laurier Avenue are calling for better street design in response to parking headaches caused by the street’s new segregated bike lanes.
The Bay-Bronson Action Group for Fair Access to the Road has sent a letter to Mayor Jim Watson and city council requesting the city address the need for parking on Laurier Avenue, specifically between Bronson Avenue and Bay Street.
The group is backing up the request with its own detailed analysis of bike traffic on Laurier Avenue bike lanes. The analysis found cycling traffic has increased by just 16 per cent in the Bay-to-Bronson stretch since the city installed segregated bike lanes in 2011.
Data for the analysis was collected from three bicycle counting stations installed by the city and verified by security cameras.
Segregated bike lanes are physically separated from the rest of traffic by barriers such as concrete curbs, plastic poles, planters, and parked cars. The Laurier bike lanes are part of a two-year pilot project by the city and are the first of their kind in Ottawa.
Richard Asselin, of the citizen action group and author of the analysis, says the segregated bike lanes have made it impossible for visitors to the area’s condos to find parking within 100 metres of the buildings.
“It’s extremely inconvenient and often costly when you’re considering people like contractors and taxis who try to park near our buildings,” Asselin says. “Some contractors have refused to come to our building because they don’t want to walk back and forth several hundred metres to their trucks.”
Asselin says the replacement parking lot for Laurier Avenue is about 350 metres from the buildings, a distance that is especially difficult for the large number of elderly residents in the area.
Asselin says the problem is frustrating because the analysis shows there to be relatively little bike traffic at the west end of Laurier Avenue, especially in the winter months.
The data show that between the middle of November and the middle of March, when temperatures are most often below freezing, bike traffic falls to a trickle on all parts of the avenue.
Cyclists in the city have had a positive reaction to the segregated bike lanes, according to Hans Moor, president of Citizens for Safe Cycling.
Moor says that more bike lanes are important for the future growth of downtown as more cyclists mean fewer large vehicles clogging up the streets. He says he is confident the city will eventually find a compromise for parking spaces.
“We are convinced that the city will find a solution to satisfy the complaints of some condo owners near Bronson,” he says. “One could think of a one-way street for example, or perhaps even a shared space.”
Some opposition to segregated bike lanes remains, however.
The Bank Street Promenade BIA has released its own detailed report in response to the Laurier Avenue pilot project. The report cites parking, traffic, and Ottawa’s long winters as reasons not to implement the segregated bike lanes.
Asselin adds the action group does not want the segregated bike lanes removed but instead is seeking a compromise for access to the road.
“Many people in our buildings like the bike lanes and make use of them,” he says. “But there is no doubt about it that there are a number of options that allow both bikes and parking in this stretch of the street.”
Asselin says he recently heard from city project manager Colin Simpson that the city is considering reinstating some parking at the west end of Laurier Avenue.
Simpson was unavailable for comment.