Skip to main content

Segregated Bike Lane Pilot Project

Overview

On July 17, 2013, following a two-year pilot project, Council approved the permanent installation of separated bike lanes on Laurier Avenue West.

The bike lanes will largely remain in their current configuration (separated from motor vehicles using temporary concrete curbs) until the street is due for reconstruction, expected sometime after 2018. When Laurier Avenue West is reconstructed, the separated bike lanes will be converted to raised cycle tracks.

Pilot Project Background and Permanent Approval

The project was initiated in 2008 when Council approved the Ottawa Cycling Plan (OCP). Council directed staff to pilot a downtown east-west on-street dedicated cycling lane separated by a median from regular traffic. This direction was given in the context of the vision and goals of the OCP, which include the following:

  • To triple the number of person-trips made by bicycle
  • To make cycling safer for cyclists of all skill and age levels
  • To link, connect and expand existing cycling facilities.

In February 2011, after a technical evaluation of all potential east-west downtown routes, Council directed staff to implement the pilot project on Laurier Avenue West. Following this, staff engaged in a period of consultation and engagement with local businesses and residents to address any concerns with the design.

The segregated bicycle lanes were opened on July 10, 2011. Throughout the two-year pilot project staff undertook monitoring over a wide range of indicators to assess the bike lane's usage and the impact on other travellers as well as residents and businesses. In response to public feedback several minor design improvements were made throughout the project.

In November 2011, Council approved funding for the East-West Bikeway as part of the Ottawa on the Move initiative. The East-West Bikeway is a 12 kilometres bicycle route between Westboro and Vanier which utilizes the segregated bicycle lanes along Laurier Avenue West. The East-West bikeway route provides improved connections to Laurier Avenue West, improving the utility of the segregated bike lane section.

In fall 2012, staff provided an update report to Transportation Committee and Council that highlighted the first year of the performance monitoring results for the pilot project. Key indicators confirmed significant increases in cycling activity along Laurier Avenue with more than triple the amount of cycling trips compared to before the bicycle lanes were implemented. The update also provided encouraging results for other indicators as well, including collision data, emergency response times, and maintenance efforts.

In summer 2013, staff reported to Transportation Committee and Council following the conclusion of the two-year pilot period. The report documented the results of the monitoring program and the impacts of bike lanes across a range of indicators. In summary, the results of the monitoring program indicate that the bicycle lanes have achieved their main objectives of significantly increasing bicycle traffic and cycling mode shares within the downtown area. Other key indicators include: improved road safety with fewer reported collisions and fewer near-collisions; minimal impact to motor vehicle operations; parking and loading mitigation opportunities; no impacts to emergency response times; and feedback from cyclists, residents, businesses and other road users.

The Report also identified both short- and long-term improvements to Laurier Avenue West to address some of the issues identified through the pilot project. Short term improvements focused on providing additional street parking and a new section of raised cycle track at the western end to better connect with the Albert Street multi-use pathway. The longer term recommendation is to convert the separated bicycle lanes to raised cycle tracks when the street is reconstructed sometime post-2018.

On July 17, 2013, Council approved the permanent installation of the bike lanes on Laurier Avenue and directed staff to consult with the public as part of the design process to reconstruct Laurier Avenue West to include raised cycle tracks. Following Council's decision to make the lanes permanent, the project won the 2015 Sustainable Communities Award in Transportation from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

Accessible Pick-up / Drop-off Locations along Laurier Avenue West

This information is provided to assist with the pick-up and drop-off of individuals with physical challenges along Laurier Avenue West given the recent construction of segregated bicycle lanes between Elgin Street and Bronson Avenue.

The key map [ JPG - 106 KB ] indicates the preferred accessible pick-up and drop-off locations along Laurier Avenue for each of the scenarios described below.

Para Transpo

Para Transpo can pick-up or drop-off clients at the following locations:

  1. Private Property (taxis sedans only)
  2. Para Transpo Zones
  3. Loading Zones
  4. No Parking Zones
  5. No Stopping Zones (without impeding traffic)
  6. On-street parking spaces (limited ramp access)

Accessible Parking Permits

Vehicles with a valid Accessible Parking Permit can pick-up or drop-off at the following locations:

  1. Private Property (requires permission)
  2. Loading Zones
  3. No Parking Zones
  4. No Stopping Zones (without impeding traffic)
  5. On-street parking spaces (limited ramp access)

Vehicles without an Accessible Parking Permit

Vehicles without an Accessible Parking Permit can pick-up or drop-off at the following locations:

  1. Private Property (requires permission)
  2. Loading Zones
  3. No Parking Zones
  4. On-street parking spaces (limited ramp access)

Cycle Ottawa - On The Right Path Video

127 MB

Dialogue

Colin Simpson, Senior Project Engineer

Ottawa’s downtown area is an exciting part of the city. It is packed with business, entertainment, restaurants and history. It’s a busy area and travelling through the city’s core can be difficult at times. The answer for a safe and comfortable commute is to cycle on the new Laurier Avenue Segregated Bike Lanes.

Whether for business or pleasure, cycling is a healthy choice for both you and the environment. It’s also an affordable choice for people of all ages.

The City of Ottawa is building the first downtown segregated bike lanes in Ontario – another important step on the path to becoming a greener and more sustainable city.

Painted bike lanes are available throughout the city but busy streets with lots of traffic can be intimidating for some people. We have learned from other cities that bicycle lanes separated from motor vehicles provides comfort and safety for all road users.

Now, new segregated bike lanes have been installed on both sides of Laurier Avenue in opposite directions between Bronson Avenue and Elgin Street.

These new bike lanes are separated from motor vehicles through the use of concrete curbs, plastic poles, parked cars and planter boxes.

A new traffic sign will instruct motorists to remember to yield to cyclists and pedestrians when making right turns.

A straight arrow signal followed by a green ball will allow pedestrians and cyclists to move through intersections ahead of turning motorists.

The new left-turn bike box makes left turns simple and safe for cyclists. Proceed through the intersection on the arrow or green ball and enter the painted green box, turn your bike and wait for the signal to change before continuing on your way.

Right turns on red lights will no longer be permitted along this section of Laurier Avenue including all of the north-south cross-streets. This makes it safer for cyclists and prevents motor vehicles from blocking the new left turn bike boxes.

Cyclists – remember to watch for pedestrians at taxi and loading zones and at on-street parking locations east of Lyon Street. Pedestrians will be crossing the segregated bike lane at these locations.

New loading zones and on-street parking has also been added on Gloucester and Nepean streets to replace those spots removed from Laurier Avenue.

You’ll see some other changes on Laurier Avenue as well.

When travelling east on Laurier – the O’Connor intersection will see a shared through/right turn lane.

Left turns from Laurier Avenue onto Metcalfe Street will be restricted during weekday peak periods. These turns will not be permitted between 7 and 9 a.m. and 3:30 and 5:30 p.m.

At Elgin Street, there will be one westbound through lane and a dedicated left turn lane that will be available throughout the day.

The Laurier Avenue bike lanes are an important step in connecting cycling paths across the city. East of Elgin Street, new painted bicycle lanes link you to the Rideau Canal pathways via the Queen Elizabeth Driveway.

Cyclists heading west can choose to bike through Chinatown and Little Italy via the new signed biked route west of Bronson along Cambridge, Primrose and Empress Streets.

Alternatively, westbound cyclists can also link up with the Ottawa River Parkway by choosing Bay Street and Wellington Street.

Mayor Jim Watson!

Since 2005, cycling is the fastest growing mode of transportation in the City of Ottawa. In fact, over the summer months cyclists make about 60,000 trips per day around the city. This bike lane is one of the initiatives we are focusing on this year. It will make the downtown more inviting and safer for everyone. This project supports business, the environment, tourism and your health. I invite you to take your bike out for a spin and join me on the new bike lane.

The New Laurier Avenue Segregated Bike Lanes Pilot Project is an important addition to Ottawa’s cycling network. Grab your bike and come on down – to shop, visit, work or play. Tell us what you think.

New Cycling Facilities - Signs and Symbols

Bicycle Route

The bicycle route sign indicates those streets that form a part of the Bicycle Route Network. These streets are shown on the Ottawa Cycling Map.

Bicycle with Arrow

Indicates that the direction of a bicycle route is changing.

Bicycle Lane

Bicycle lanes are marked with a solid white line, typically 1.5 to 2.0 metres from the curb or edge of road. Bicycle symbols are painted at regular intervals to indicate that these lanes are for use by cyclists.

Reserved Bicycle Lane

Reserved lane signs indicate that lanes are reserved for bicycles.

Special Vehicle Lane

Reserved for specific vehicles (buses, carpools, bicycles). In Ottawa, cyclists may ride in these marked or signed reserved lanes.

Shared Pathway

Indicates an off-street pathway shared by pedestrians and cyclists. Cyclists must yield to pedestrians.

Bicycle Detour

Bicycle detour signs indicate an alternate route for bicycles where construction activities require closure of the usual bicycle route.

Three Yellow Dots

These three dots are painted at intersections and indicate the most responsive part of a metal-detecting loop embedded in the pavement. This loop senses when a vehicle, including a bicycle, is stopped and changes the signal from red to green.

Two Stage Left-Turn Bike Box

These bike boxes will be provided at all intersections along Laurier Avenue West in the north-south directions to help facilitate two-stage left turns for cyclists. Cyclists turning left will be expected to first proceed straight through an intersection and then wait in the designated left-turn bike box for the green signal on the cross street to complete their left turn movement.

Bike Box

A bike box is used at intersections to designate a space for cyclists to wait in front of cars at a red light, and to proceed through the intersection first when the light turns green, followed by drivers. Look for Ottawa's first bike box at the Bay St. and Wellington St intersection.

Sharrows

Sharrows are road markings showing a bicycle with two chevrons. The purpose of a sharrow is to remind residents to share the road when driving or cycling in Ottawa.

Ride Safely: Follow the Rules of the Road

Cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers. The Ontario Highway Traffic Act and City by-laws apply to cyclists too.

Remember:

  • Obey all traffic regulations and speed limits
  • Yield to pedestrians and watch for school children crossing the routes
  • Walk your bicycle on a sidewalk or when in a crosswalk and yield to a bus when it is leaving a stop
  • Watch out for doors of parked cars - they can open at anytime
  • Signal before turning
  • You must use front and rear lights on your bicycle after dark
  • All bicycles must have a warning bell
  • Helmets are required if you are under 18, safety vests or reflective clothing are recommended
  • Wearing headphones that cover both ears is NOT recommended while cycling

Traffic Changes for Motorists

Traffic changes on Laurier Avenue

  • Right turns on red lights will no longer be permitted along this section of Laurier Avenue including all cross-streets.
  • When travelling east on Laurier – the O’Connor intersection will see a shared through/right turn lane.
  • Left turns from Laurier Avenue onto Metcalfe Street will be restricted during weekday peak periods - between 7 and 9 a.m. and 3:30 and 5:30 p.m.
  • At Elgin Street, there will be one westbound through lane and a dedicated left turn lane that will be available throughout the day.
  • A new traffic sign will instruct motorists to remember to yield to cyclists and pedestrians when making right turns.
  • A straight arrow signal followed by a green ball will allow pedestrians and cyclists to move through intersections ahead of turning motorists. When the traffic signal turns green:
    • Cyclists proceed through the intersection first, followed by drivers.
    • Drivers should remember to check for cyclists to their right before turning right.

Frequently asked questions

What is a segregated bike lane?

A segregated bike lane is a designated on-street bicycle lane that is physically separated from motor vehicle traffic through the use of barriers such as curbs, parked cars, delineators, or other street treatments.

Who can use a bike lane?

The Ontario Highway Traffic stipulates that all designated bike lanes, including segregated bike lanes, are to be used by cyclists only.

Can I walk in the segregated bike lane?

Just as cyclists are not to use sidewalks, pedestrians should not use bike lanes. This will ensure that both cyclists and pedestrians do not put each other in danger.

Do I have to ride in the segregate bike lane?

No, there is no law that obliges you to ride in the segregated bike lane. Cyclists who want to move at the speed of traffic on Laurier will be encouraged to use the roadway as increasing safety, not speed, is the purpose of the facility. As a cyclist, you have the same rights and responsibilities to obey all traffic laws as other road users.

As a motorist, how should I deal with segregated bike lanes?

  • Always check for bikes when crossing the lane to park or make a right-hand turn.
  • Do not park or drive in the segregated lanes along Laurier (you may cross over them if turning or entering a loading zone). By parking or driving in a bike lane, you are endangering cyclists by forcing them to suddenly merge into vehicular traffic.

Will emergency access be compromised resulting in slower response times?

Measures have been established to ensure access and response times are not compromised. For example, some of the barriers have been removed along critical sections or are of a flexible design to allow emergency vehicle access. The City’s emergency response teams have been involved in the design of the facility and are monitoring and tracking their response times to calls along Laurier.

What about people with accessibility issues?

New additional Para Transpo drop off locations have been added along and adjacent to Laurier. The facility does not hinder safe access and crossings at intersections. Para Transpo vehicles and vehicles with accessible parking permits are permitted to do pick-ups and drop-offs in Loading Zones, No Parking Zones, and No Stopping Zones along the corridor (without impeding traffic). Further, a block-by-block review was undertaken and some additional curbs were removed to further improve access for emergency workers and persons with mobility issues in the days leading up to its opening. Additional information about accessible pick-up / drop-off locations is available online.

What will happen in the winter?

The segregated bike lanes will be maintained throughout the year in their current configuration. The pre-cast curbs, plastic poles and planter boxes will remain in place along Laurier during the winter months and the bike lanes will be plowed to the same bare pavement standard as the motor vehicle travel lanes. Equipment utilizing a mechanical sweeping broom, plow and snow blower will clear snow. Following this a liquid anti icing spray will be applied to the bike lanes while the use of roadway rock salt and grit will be minimized. The bike lanes will be officially closed when dangerous conditions exist such as after major winter storms or if black ice is apparent. You can find out if the segregated bike lane is closed by calling 3-1-1 (TTY: 613-580-2401) or tuning in to local media.

Why invest in segregated bike lanes?

  • By better connecting key destinations, improving comfort and convenience, and attracting a broader group of residents and visitors to cycling, segregated bike lanes offer a range of benefits, including: Providing opportunities for daily physical activity and associated health benefits
  • Reducing pollution associated with transportation
  • Promoting access to local businesses and economic activity
  • Providing an inexpensive form of transportation that is widely accessible
  • Increasing tourism
  • Adding value to urban development
  • Ensuring a better return on our tax dollars. For example, Copenhagen has found that society gains $0.24/km when a person chooses to cycle; whereas by car, society suffers a net loss of $0.14/km.

How was Laurier Avenue selected?

  • Laurier Avenue West was selected as the location for the segregated bike lane for a number of reasons, including: Highest number of cyclists of any east-west corridor within in the study area
  • Traffic signals at every intersection, which provide for a safe route
  • Proximity to several major destinations such as City Hall, main public library, Confederation Park, central business district, schools, high-density residential dwellings
  • Convenient connections to the Transitway, University of Ottawa, Sandy Hill, the ByWard Market, Gatineau, Lebreton Flats, Chinatown, and the Glebe
  • Excellent connections to other bicycle facilities, including: the NCC pathways along the Ottawa River and Canal; existing bike lanes along Percy St., Bay St., Lyon St., and over the Laurier Avenue Bridge (which connects to Nicholas St.); and the existing bike-friendly staircases near Cambridge St. that connect to the neighbourhoods to the west of the escarpment
  • No bus routes
  • No curb side garbage pick-up
  • High volume of vehicle traffic, so segregation would increase cyclist safety and comfort
  • Plenty of off-street parking lots in the vicinity, with additional capacity for new on-street parking along adjacent and nearby parallel streets, thereby minimizing the impact of the pilot project in the area
  • Opportunity to revitalize the commercial street frontage, as the bike lanes will draw in continuous activity during evenings and weekends, hence promoting the extension of commercial activities that currently focus on the demands of weekday office workers

Were residents and businesses consulted?

Extensive consultations with residents, community groups, businesses and other stakeholders have taken place, and their feedback was incorporated into the design of the bike lanes wherever possible. The City continues to work with all stakeholders who may be impacted to make sure that the community needs are addressed to the fullest (within the broader context of the overall project). This is a pilot project and the City will continue to monitor and encourage people to provide feedback on how this project can be improved.

What is being done to help inform both motorists and cyclists about traffic changes?

The City has created a detailed informational video (available on ottawa.ca/bikelane) that takes viewers on a tour of the bike lanes, demonstrates the proper use of the facility, and provides an overview of the resulting traffic changes for motorists and cyclists alike. Further, for the first couple of weeks, volunteers, by-law officers and police will be along the lanes to answer questions and help make cyclists and motorists aware of these changes.

Where are people supposed to park now?

On-street parking has increased in the area, particularly along the side streets, while 44 parking spaces still remain on Laurier. For every space that was removed from Laurier, an additional space was added to Gloucester and Nepean Streets, which are only a block or two away. Unlike the previous parking spaces on Laurier which were limited to off peaks hours, these new spaces are available throughout the day, some for free. Additional information about on-street parking changes in the area is available online.

It should also be noted that additional bike parking has been implemented along Laurier, with dozens of new ring and post facilities installed between Bronson Avenue and Elgin Street.

What have you done to accommodate business drop-offs and deliveries?

Emergency vehicle access, access to off-street loading zones and access to a building’s

entry and parking garage have all been maintained as is the case with hotel and taxi zones. On-street loading zones were placed in close proximity to their previous locations with the additional and three were added to improve access to businesses along the corridor.

Will businesses suffer?

Extensive research indicates that businesses typically benefit from facilities such as these, especially from the increased number of cyclists who are more likely to stop on their way compared to motorists. A summary of this research is available online [ PDF 290 KB ].

If this is a pilot project, what are the conditions of success?

The City will monitor the success of the project by surveying businesses, residents and cyclists, and collecting bike and traffic count information. Just as multiple factors lead to the selection of Laurier, determining success will rely on a number of criteria including public feedback, increased cycle counts, improved safety, and business activity.

Won’t this only serve to increase gridlock along Laurier?

Changes to traffic movements along Laurier are designed to increase safety and minimize congestion. The time it takes the average motor vehicle to travel the entire length of the corridor during peak periods is expected to increase by 30-60 seconds as a result of these changes.

Why no right turns on red lights?

This is being done to facilitate the implementation of the new left-turn bike boxes that would conflict with right turning vehicles on red lights. It will also increase safety for the high levels of pedestrians and cyclists along the corridor.

How will travel in the bike lane be enforced?

Bylaw and police will monitor the use of the bike lane to see if conflicts or safety issues occur. Other motorized vehicles, like mopeds, remain strictly prohibited and will be ticketed and fined for using the lane.

Who is not allowed to use the segregated bike lane?

  • Pedestrians
  • Anyone operating a motorized vehicle that is not classified as a bicycle under the Highway Traffic Act

What is a “bicycle” under the Highway Traffic Act?

A bicycle is considered to be "a tricycle, a unicycle and a power-assisted bicycle, however, does not include a motor-assisted bicycle."

For use in the Province of Ontario, a power-assisted bicycle, or e-bike, is a bicycle that:

  • Has a maximum weight of 120 kg (includes the weight of bike and battery)
  • Has wheels with a diameter of at least 350 mm and width of at least 35 mm
  • Meets the federal definition of a power-assisted bicycle:
    • Has steering handlebars and is equipped with pedals
    • Is designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground
    • Is capable of being propelled by muscular power
    • Has one or more electric motors that have, singly or in combination, the following characteristics:
      • It has a total continuous power output rating, measured at the shaft of each motor, of 500 W or less
      • If it is engaged by the use of muscular power, power assistance immediately ceases when the muscular power ceases
      • If it is engaged by the use of an accelerator controller, power assistance immediately ceases when the brakes are applied
      • It is incapable of providing further assistance when the bicycle attains a speed of 32 km/h on level ground
      • Bears a label that is permanently affixed by the manufacturer and appears in a conspicuous location stating, in both official languages, that the vehicle is a power-assisted bicycle as defined federally
      • Has one of the following safety features, an enabling mechanism to turn the electric motor on and off that is separate from the accelerator controller and fitted in such a manner that it is operable by the driver, or a mechanism that prevents the motor from being engaged before the bicycle attains 3 km/hr.

Do all e-bikes look like bicycles?

E-bikes may resemble conventional bicycles, or resemble scooters and limited-speed motorcycles as illustrated below.

Effective October 3, 2009, conventional style and scooter-style e-bikes that meet the definition of a power-assisted bicycle, as described above, are permitted on roads and highways where conventional bicycles are currently allowed. They must follow the same rules of the road as set out in the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) that currently apply to cyclists, with some exceptions.

   

On what roads can an e-bike travel?

E-bikes are allowed to travel anywhere bicycles are permitted to travel. Any municipal by-law prohibiting bicycles from highways under their jurisdiction also apply to e-bikes. Municipalities may also pass by-laws specific to e-bikes that prohibit them from municipal roads, sidewalks, bike paths, bike trails, and bike lanes under their jurisdiction.

E-bikes, like bicycles, are not allowed on controlled-access highways such as 400 series highways, the Queen Elizabeth Way, the Queensway in Ottawa or the Kitchener-Waterloo Expressway, or on municipal roads, including sidewalks where bicycles are banned under municipal by-laws.

How does a segregated bike lane differ from a shared or multi-use pathway?

Multi-use or shared pathways such as those along the Canal and the Ottawa and Rideau rivers are not regulated under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act. In Ottawa, these off-road facilities are where pedestrians, cyclists, rollerbladers, and personal mobility devices are all permitted and expected to share the path. Off-road path users are typically required to yield at driveway and access lanes while bike lane users have the legal right-of-way.

Effective October 3, 2009, conventional style and scooter-style e-bikes that meet the definition of a power-assisted bicycle, as described above, are permitted on roads and highways where conventional bicycles are currently allowed. They must follow the same rules of the road as set out in the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) that currently apply to cyclists, with some exceptions.

What should I do if I see a vehicle blocking the bike lane?

Please call the City at 3-1-1 immediately. By-law staff will respond as required. You may also report it as part of our online service requests.

Laurier Ave – Safety Review

The city of Ottawa is conducting a safety review of Laurier Ave. Please give us your feedback regarding your travel on Laurier Ave.