#ottvote my answers to Jim Watson’s questions on cycling.  Peter Raaymakers has been interviewing the mayoral candidates on Public Transit in Ottawa, and Jim Watson asks questions, mainly rhetorically I think, but I have some answers:

Question 1 is in relation to the segregated lane pilot project on Somerset.

f it means, for instance, they’re going to lose a good portion of their parking, and they rely on their parking for customers, are there ways that we can accommodate both the parking and the cycling

Simple:  move the parking area out past the bike lane.  Other than the obvious benefit of not taking away parking from merchants, this allows an additional layer of protection to cyclists, to have parked cars between the bike lane and the cars whizzing past, this is done in Portland, Seattle, NYC and others.  Here’s a picture in Seattle:  http://www.publicola.net/2010/07/21/the-citys-bike-master-plan-needs-an-update/

Question 2, on the same subject:

Is there a street better than Somerset that would be less disruptive to the business community?

Short Answer: No.

Long Answer:  There are many reasons why the answer is no.

1.  Somerset is the only street that traverses the entire core of Ottawa, from Hintonburg  to Sandy Hill (with the new corkstown bridge)  Any other street would not actually provide a way to get through downtown without many turns, some of which would be particularly daunting.  If you’re doing this to make cycling more attractive, this is the only street in Ottawa.

2. Side streets don’t need a bike lane.  Nobody’s scared of cycling on the little side streets downtown, the problem is when they have to get on Somerset, to get to an actual destination, which leads us to three

3.  No destinations.  If you were to put a bike lane on say, McLaren, or Lisgar, people would still need to get off the bike lane to get groceries, or Beer, or Pho.  Again, if you’re trying to encourage cycling, you need to put a bike lane on a street where shops are actually located, so that people can use their bikes to get to destinations that matter.

4. The last point is:  publicity.  Nobody will use a bike lane if they don’t know it exists.  You can have all the ribbon-cutting ceremonies in the world, but it won’t reach most potential users of a bike lane.  On the other hand, everyone downtown goes to Somerset, it’s one of the main shopping streets, so if they see a bike lane, either when driving to the beer store, bussing to pick up some milk at the Hartman’s or walking out to dinner in Chinatown, they will see the bike lane and it could cause them to think about taking their bike next time they have to run errands.

This took so much effort I even went to the bother of mailing Mr. Watson himself on it.

Watson on walking and cycling
imported from Tumblr


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23 October 2010