Improved safety on NCC pathways sought

One dangerous NCC pathway is the confined section along Colonel By Drive near Avenue Road stairs. Photo by John Dance

One dangerous NCC pathway is the confined section along Colonel By Drive near Avenue Road stairs. Photo by John Dance

By John Dance

Local residents have lots of suggestions for how the National Capital Commission could improve its pathway network, especially the safety of its Rideau Canal routes.

At two recent public consultations on the NCC’s network, Old Ottawa East was well-represented by keen cyclists and pedestrians who make daily use of the network. The NCC’s goal is to approve a
new pathway network strategy by early next year.

“I’ve witnessed huge improvements in cycling infrastructure, as well as huge increases in pathway usage,” Jim Fraser, Onslow Crescent resident noted. “The major problems arise when the pathways are filled with casual walkers and casual cyclists – e.g., noon hour, evenings, weekends.”

Specific recommendations from Fraser included signage specifying that all pathway users should keep to the right; a campaign to inform and educate all pathway users – not just cyclists; and ensuring safety after dark is a major component of any education campaign.

Confining high-speed cyclists to the parkways rather than the pathways was suggested by several people including Harry Musson, co-owner of Rentabike and an Old Ottawa South resident, who stated that “the lycra crowd should be encouraged onto the roadways,”, a point with which Fraser agreed.

“As I see it, these roadways are already wide enough to accommodate highspeed cyclists, except perhaps in a couple of spots, and the changes required are minimal – repair the roadway surface, paint bike lanes, post appropriate signage, add traffic calming measures in a few key spots, and enforce car speed limits,” said Fraser.

Jim Strang, a King’s Landing resident, frequent Canal walker and occasional cyclist observed that “there are far too many cyclists who divert the minimum amount possible from their chosen trajectory and pace to move over into the passing lane to the left to pass pedestrians.”

“Courtesy and education starting with the schools about mixed pathway protocol, rights of way and good manners would help,” Strang noted. “The goal should be to encourage a more European approach to cycling (and I don’t mean the Tour de France).”

The NCC noted that since the renewal of its previous pathway network strategy, a 20 km/hr speed limit has been implemented on the pathways, however, frequent cyclists in attendance at the consultation confirmed that there has been no enforcement of the limit to date, in their view.

The Rideau Canal Eastern Pathway runs two kilometres along Colonel By Drive through Old Ottawa East and has unique problems that consultation participants raised.

Bottlenecks under the Queensway and Pretoria bridges and between Clegg Street and Bank Street were cited by OOECA Transportation director Tom Scott and others. “One might look at converting part of Echo into a dedicated bike lane – that could then get you from Main to Bank but set back from the Canal,” he noted.

Another suggestion for addressing the pedestrian-cyclist conflicts on the canal pathway was to build a pedestrian boardwalk off the sides of the Canal where the existing pathway is dangerously narrow and there are no other means of widening it.

“The north end of the Canal, where it does indeed widen out near the Shaw Centre does little for cyclist commuters since it goes nowhere else except onto busy car-only streets,” said Scott. “If we encourage higher-speed commuter traffic to use the canal-side multi-use lanes and then force them back into general stroller-walker-wheelchair traffic at these bottlenecks we might then only serve to increase frustration.”

OOE cyclist Don Fugler attended the NCC consultation and agreed with suggestions to enhance connectivity of the NCC and City of Ottawa pathways and cycling facilities and improve snow clearance of pathways.

Participants asked NCC officials for data on changing use and incident occurrence on the pathways and, as a follow-up, the NCC provided the Mainstreeter with statistics that show that pathway use has doubled over the last two decades.

Also, there is a growing percentage of users who are cyclists as their share of total usage has grown from 56 percent in 1999 to 69 percent in 2016. The canal pathways are two of the busiest routes, with almost 400,000 cyclists on the west side last year and about 250,000 on the OOE side. The counters did not record the number of pedestrians.

facebooktwitterby feather
Filed in: News

You might like:

The Perils of Potholes The Perils of Potholes
Please share your memorable experiences, encounters with Paul Dewar Please share your memorable experiences, encounters with Paul Dewar
OOE Artist Features: Yvonne Coutts, Choreographer OOE Artist Features: Yvonne Coutts, Choreographer
Hosers wash out opposition to ice the Capital Ward Cup Hosers wash out opposition to ice the Capital Ward Cup

Leave a Reply

Submit Comment
© 7955 Mainstreeter. All rights reserved. XHTML / CSS Valid.
Proudly designed by Theme Junkie.