Cyclist light at Graham and Main

A special traffic light for cyclists at the intersection of Main Street and Graham Avenue remains a mystery to many.

“I did not expect it to be as useful as it is,” said Don Fugler, a 61-year-old resident of Old Ottawa East, who rides north on Echo Drive and takes Graham to Lees Avenue several times a week. “I would ordinarily take Hawthorne (Avenue) east and join up to Lees at the end of Hawthorne, right on Concord (Street South), and then left on Lees. I find the Graham route more direct, without the dangerous left hand turn onto Lees. It also avoids the heavy traffic coming east off Pretoria Bridge.”

Jennifer Robichaud, 39, said she didn’t use the light regularly but did so once after visiting Bank Street. She said she also tries to avoid Pretoria Bridge because of the narrow bike lane and grumpy drivers.

Bruce Martin, owner of Cycos, and Gabe Macki, owner of Phat Moose Cycles, both familiar with the bicycle light, admitted their customers never mention it, even though it is just around the corner from their Hawthorne Avenue shops.

The light has shortcomings. The sensors–yellow dots on the road that cyclists must run over with their bike to trigger the light to turn green–are worn and barely visible. According to Fugler, in winter, the snow builds up on the sensors making the light even more difficult to activate. Fugler also pointed out that cyclists had to learn how the light worked relative to the rest of the Main-Graham intersection.

“When the light turns green, you have to infer that it is not green for motorists,” he said.

Neil Johnston, co-ordinator of the University of Ottawa Bike Co-op, wasn’t familiar with the light even though he cycles on Main Street every day. He said he would try use it.

“Anything that helps bikes on the road is a great idea,” he said, adding he had noticed a growing push for bike lanes and lights in Ottawa.

“These things are even better for the winter,” Johnston said. “Any space you can get between yourself and the car.”

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